When we attend the annual Can Fit Pro World Fitness Conference each year there are always a few new things to try. Some are good, some not so much and some are great! We purchased “fitness drumsticks” after the conference this year and have been having fun with them in our classes. This is a way of tricking our class participants into doing a million squats and lunges in one session without really being aware that that is what they are doing! The “sticks” are used to hit the floor, then hit together above the head or just at shoulder height. Routines are usually choreographed to music so there is a specific beat to keep and because you are hitting the floor to make that beat the range of motion for the squats, plies and lunges is quite deep. Hence the great leg workout! We have discovered there is much we can do with these sticks to create a great workout that not only tones the legs but also elevates the heart rate. Arms are also toned just through holding the drumsticks (which weigh less than a pound) and moving them in various directions at various speeds. This is a great, fun activity that has you feeling a bit like a rock star. Beware the tired legs however.
HIIT (high intensity interval training) and Tabata continue to be popular at this conference. Tabata is a method of interval training designed in Japan for their national speed skaters. It was been embraced by the fitness industry as way to “get fit quick” or just get a high intensity workout in a very short session. True tabata takes only 16 minutes to complete. The idea is that you work as hard as you possibly can during the session and only take the required rest breaks. HIIT is the same. If you feel good during these workouts you probably are not working hard enough. They are meant to be tough. Work hard in the intervals, which are cardiovascular in nature and only rest for the allotted time. Tabata is 20 seconds of high intensity followed by 10 seconds of recovery. This is repeated 8 times and then a 1 minute rest is allowed. All of that is repeated 3 more times for a total of 4 sets. Then you are done! In more ways than one! Typically exercises are repeated and are usually simple in execution so as to be able to maintain good form and high level intensity.
HIIT is similar to Tabata but follows no set plan. The intervals are what you decide them to be. Maybe 30 seconds of hard work, 15 seconds recovery or 45 seconds of hard work with 1 minute recovery. The idea with this type of training is that when the body is confused by the changing levels of intensity it burns more calories. It definitely does that, but this method of training also boosts the cardiovascular benefits. Participants of one study who did Tabata four times a week for 6 weeks saw improvement in both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning as well as improvement in their MVO2 or maximum oxygen uptake (which is an indicator of cardiovascular health). Others in the study who did steady state aerobic conditioning for one hour, 5 times a week on a stationary bike saw less improvement in their aerobic capacity, less MVO2 improvement and no change in their anaerobic capacity.