The Most Important Muscle to Work Out; Train Your Heart With HIIT

Don’t get me wrong, training for sexy legs, arms, abs, and buns are absolutely important for function and improving your body.

But are you training the most vital muscle in your body you can’t see?

“You may think anything that gets your heart rate up can count as cardio training, so you will be fine just doing high-rep squats. Well, no. Just like you can have concentric and eccentric muscle contractions when doing curls and presses, your heart can have different training adaptations.” – Andrew Read

We spent this week covering how to speed up your metabolism. Through different types of training, such as HIIT, weight circuits, and different forms of aerobic exercise, the different ways your body utilizes energy are challenged to improve.

But aside from the metabolism-boosting benefits, they do an amazing job at exercising the most important muscle in your body, the heart! Gaining age has many positive benefits, but it holds no prisoners when its negative effects try to sneak into your life. Things like decreased bone density, increased fat mass, and a big drop in energy levels are not mandatory, but are a part of the aging process, which you have control to slow down!

“But the primary danger of aging is its effects on your heart. Thanks to oxidative stress, high cholesterol, hypertension, and obstruction in the cardiovascular system, age increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, peripheral arterial disease, heart failure, and other cardiovascular events.

HIIT may be able to counteract the cardiovascular effects of aging, at least to a certain extent. The American Physiological Society (APS) found that resistance-based interval training can improve endothelial function, leading to an increase in nitric oxide production, better blood vessel dilation, and improved blood flow. It can also help to decrease inflammation and the risk of diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.” – Andy Peloquin

What is HIIT?

High-Intensity Interval Training, in basic terms, is alternating between sets of timed work and rest periods. They usually range between 10 – 60 seconds in duration and is an extremely efficient way to get a lot of work done in a short time frame. Pushing your muscles really hard in a short time frame causes your heart to begin working in overtime; this is a great way to improve the quality of your heart health (even though it might not feel easy doing it).

Why is Interval Training Important?

If you want to become better at reading, would you read the same small book over and over again? I doubt it. Choosing varying lengths, genres, narration, and even old English books would definitely make you a stronger and more efficient reader.

The same goes for exercise

Unless you are a professional athlete, well-roundedness is the best approach to achieve the best possible fitness. By varying hard efforts of output and recovery, your heart (and other muscles) become really good at working to their maximal ability and then get a rest period to calm back down. This contrast is less damaging on the joints and muscles than long, endless endurance, and is also really time efficient for anyone with a hectic schedule. That combination of resistance training, intervals, recovery methods and aerobic endurance all are components to achieving a fulfilling and physically free lifestyle.

As a coach, asking one of my students to give an “all-out effort” for a 5k run will look and feel much different than an “all-out effort” for a 30-yard sprint. It is physiologically impossible to sustain your maximal output possible for a prolonged amount of time. Once you can decipher that maximal effort is relative to the task you have at hand, that is when the magic can happen. The ability to move swiftly, with power and prestige is light a dimmable light switch you can adjust on the fly within your body as the task demands. But how does that improve? With time and practice!

Your Body Responds to the Demands Placed On It

“Most every high intensity physical activity is a state of “crisis” in the body. It endangers oxygen supply to tissues, increases body temperature, reduces body fluids and fuel stores, and causes tissue damage.

Hormonally, your body basically freaks out. Then it brings out the big guns to deal with the problem. High-intensity exercise stresses the body so much that it’s forced to adapt.” (source)

Just like any other muscle in the body, your heart is a muscle that has to be exercised in different ways to stay as healthy as possible. If you are stuck in a boring, unchallenging routine at your local gym, now is the time to make the change. Your body has to be stimulated with a mixture of intervals and endurance, flexibility and strength training, and establishing the best way to move around day to day pain-free with confidence. Each week here at Orca, we love to mix interval and strength training with mobility and endurance to give students the total ticket to physical freedom.

But just like you wouldn’t step off of your couch and run a marathon, if it is your first time exploring HIIT, maybe don’t press 100% down on the gas pedal to make sure your technique is crisp, and to avoid unwanted nausea or an uncomfortable rapid heartbeat; I mean it is called high-intensity interval training for a reason!

The Big Takeaways

  • The basic principle of HIIT is short burst of very high-intensity movement, followed by low-intensity recovery periods
  • Your Heart is a Muscle and Must Be Exercised to Remain Healthy
  • Interval Training Strengthens Your Heart and Cardiovascular System
  • Burn More Fat in Less Time With Efficient Interval Sessions
  • Strengthen Fast Twitch Muscles to Improve Power, Speed, and Sexiness
  • “All Out Effort” is a Relative Term

If you want to experience interval training at Orca Empire, stop on by! On Tuesday and Friday, our training focus is on improving the conditioning of the heart, muscles, and mind. If you haven’t heard about our weekly program, you can follow the link here to read how our coaching style is on the forefront of positive change within the fitness community 

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