How long should I exercise?
Duration is the length of time you spend doing something. In this post I’ll discuss how to apply duration and frequency to HIIT weight training.
If you are just starting a workout program then you don’t want to burn yourself out and get discouraged by going full force – potentially injuring yourself in the process. Establish a baseline on which you can build.
Set ‘reachable’ goals
Pace yourself. Set realistic goals – how long do I need to exercise to reach those goals? For example, your initial goal could be to do 20 minutes of HIIT cardio Monday, Wednesday and Friday and HIIT weight training for 30 minutes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Its important to give yourself a rest day – Sunday.
To build up to this goal, start your cardio work at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate two weeks. This will get your body primed to do extended HIIT cardio training sessions later. Be sure to add a warmup and a cool down phase of one minute each to your cardio.
Ideally aim for twenty minutes of continuous cardio. However as a precursor, the twenty minutes can be broken up into segments of 2 ten minute sessions or even three 6 minute sessions. So if you are doing a jump rope routine for your cardio – your goal would be to skip for twenty continuous minutes. Initially, these can be broken into segments.
The American College of Sports Medicine does recommends at least 30 minutes of steady state cardio 5 days per week or 150 minutes each week. When doing HIIT cardio we can cut this in half.
Your eventual goal is to increase the intensity with interval training for twenty continuous minutes each session . . . . keeping the number of days the same – three.
Unless you are an elite athlete you should only put in those twenty minutes once for the day. . . not ‘two-a-days’ like football players or other professional athletes do.
How much is too much? What about diabetics?
One of my workout partners who is diabetic will do up to an hour of cardiovascular exercises by splitting time between the treadmill and the bicycle or some other cardio equipment. He does this several days per week and is able to keep his glucose level in the normal range with little or no meds.
He can get the same cardio benefits if he were to cut that time by a half or more by doing HIIT. Long steady state cardio is not necessary since excessive cardio can be counterproductive. It works for him and since he enjoys doing extended cardio routines I don’t discourage him.
I don’t recommend long cardiovascular exercises for diabetics because our body is very adaptable. If you cut back on the amount cardio or decide to do some other form of exercise, it can affect your blood glucose – and hence your energy – levels.
There is a delicate balance between high and low sugar levels. An increase or decrease in cardio routine should be done gradually to avoid the dangers of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia if you are diabetic.
How often should I exercise?
Frequency is the number of times in a given period that you do your workout routine. For example, doing HIIT weight training exercises three times per week and walking or jogging five days each week would be considered your exercise frequency.
If your goal is to lose weight then start by walking 30 minutes per day, five days each week. You will eventually graduate from walking to jogging for those 30 minutes each day.
Jogging is ok for a time, but to get the best weight loss benefit you will need to start doing high intensity interval training three days per week and continue with regular cardio on the other two days.
The benefits of aerobic exercises drops off quickly if you decide to stop. It’s important to continue with your routine so as not to lose the mental and physical rewards that exercise can give you.
Develop a workout routine that you can follow consistently and incorporate the three important facets of activity – intensity, duration and frequency. You will be amazed at how you will look and feel in eight weeks if you sick with it and control your diet.
Remember . . . . for something to become a habit, whether good or bad, you need to do it for about three consecutive weeks.
There are twenty-four hours in a day – set aside one of those hours as an investment in your future well-being. Hopefully, you will strive to make HIIT weight training a regular habit which can help you lose weight and look leaner and healthier for years to come.
To a healthier you,