For Strong Nation instructor Marlyn Gumabon, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is more than a fitness fad – it’s become a core part of her philosophy.
A Zumba and MixxedFit instructor, Gumabon juggles them all, but, when done correctly, she said, HIIT workouts are efficient fat-burning routines that combine body weight, muscle conditioning and quick-burst plyometric moves.
It seems too good to be true, but studies show 30 minutes of interval training, which includes 10 to 20 minutes of warm-up and cool-down, has the same cardiovascular benefits of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, stated a recent Tribune News Service Report.
The high-intensity bursts combined with weight work burns calories even during the recovery period right after the workout.
It works, Gumabon said, “it is very efficient way to exercise and may help you burn more calories than you would with other forms of exercise. Some calories burned from high-intensity intervals come from a higher metabolism, which lasts for hours after exercise.”
A Strong Nation instructor since 2017, Gumabon said she got into it because she wanted to learn other forms of fitness.
The bursts of intensity, which can be modified to suit any fitness level, allows you to work more efficiently, she said, adding that translates into burning more fat at a faster rate than steady-state cardio.
The TNS report echoed Gumabon’s statements, adding HIIT workouts are especially beneficial for older people.
"It's well documented that HIIT wins the race when compared to low to moderate exercise" in reducing fat deposits, including belly fat, says Debra Atkinson, founder of Flipping Fifty, which offers hormone-balancing exercise for women in menopause. "Not only is (belly fat) the number one complaint of women in midlife, it's also a health risk.”
Besides the calorie and metabolic burn, Gumabon stressed the many benefits of a smart HIIT routine.
“It can help you lose fat, you will gain muscles and can improve oxygen consumption,” she said. “It can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar.”
She emphasizes safety first, cautioning people against jumping into new workouts right away. If you have never done HIIT workouts, consult with their primary care doctor or cardiologist before starting something new, she said.
And, for beginners, she recommends Tabata-style HIIT workouts. Look them up; there’s a ton of them on YouTube or various fitness apps.
“You can go at your own pace and strength,” she said, endorsing Tabata workouts.
A common mistake with HIIT workouts is doing them every day of the week. Your body needs days off to recover, repair and build muscle.
Advanced athletes, who know their bodies and understand their limitations, can handle four to five days a week, the TNS report states. However, newbies should consider two to three days of HIIT workouts a week.
Recovery time is crucial to any workout program, the TNS report emphasizes.
“HIIT is a great, safe and effective workout, but there’s no need to do it every day,” Gumabon said. “Keep it to three times per week. You’ll still reap the benefits and give your body time to recover properly.”
The length and frequency of HIIT workouts - 30 minutes, three to five times a week - is fairly standard, but the ideal work-to-rest ratio within each session depends on your fitness level.
“There are so many types of HIIT workouts,” Gumabon said, endorsing Urban Fitness Guam’s various workouts, including CardioMaxx, Urban Athletes, Indoor Cycling, Abs & Butt, and Cross Training.
Most gyms are offering online workouts during the lockdown, she said. Check out your favorite gyms and see what they’re posting.
For Gumabon, who operates out of Urban Fitness, she said their IG @urbanfitnessguam offers daily workouts that people can check out.
“The benefits of HIIT workouts is I burn calories – I’m losing weight and building muscle,” she said. “I think that’s the best part of it – building my muscles without the use of weights.”