The reason why balance and recovery is vital for both HIIT and heavy weight training is that they use the same energy system:

the anaerobic energy system. Unlike the aerobic energy system (dominant during lower intensities such as brisk walking or jogging) that uses oxygen to break down carbohydrate and fat for energy, the anaerobic system recognises that there’s not enough oxygen to go around – despite your huffing and puffing and instead turns to phosphocreatine and lactic acid. The former lasts for around 10 to 20 seconds, and the latter creates a burning sensation that most people take as a signal to ease off, or stop.

According to Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition, Most high-intensity physical activity is a state of crisisin the body: it endangers oxygen supply to tissues, increases body temperature, reduces body fluids and fuel stores, and causes tissue damage. Although it sounds borderline horrific in science terms, this stress is also what makes high intensities beneficial. Hormonally, your body basically freaks out, he continues.

Then it brings out the big guns to deal with the problem; high-intensity exercise stresses the body so much that it is forced to adapt. The kicker is that these adaptations take time, and hence the downtime between your sessions (and good nutrition) is crucial in keeping your body happy, and bolstering your results. While high-intensity exercise is more time efficient, it places more stress on the body and cannot be trained as frequently as lower-intensity exercise, Lim says. High-intensity training is very demanding and for most people it is important to be reasonably well recovered between sessions. Thus a combination of all intensities can indeed be beneficial.

The best of both

Conclusion: exercising at both low and high intensities does not make you soft; it makes you smart. “Different intensities are a must when it comes to getting results with your training, says personal trainer Kim Beach ( “If you stay at the same intensity all the time with no variety, your body will get used to this type of training and your fitness will not improve. Getting results and improving your fitness level comes from stepping out of your comfort zone. You might think, Hey, if I can survive 20 minutes of HIIT, I can survive an endurance run. But different training styles beget different results and you might find your low-intensity training session isn’t, ironically, a walk in the park. “Intensity is only one small piece of the training puzzle and other variables such as weekly frequency, modality and amount of training must be considered and programmed correctly for optimal results, says Lim. “If your goal is to run a marathon, you will need to incorporate lots of low-to- moderate-intensity training sustained

over a longer duration in order to stimulate specific adaptations, but for broad goals such as weight loss, strength and fitness, it is nearly always best to employ various levels of intensity.

For other specific, health-related goals, there are some proven benefits when it comes to choosing intensity. For instance, in isolation, the science says that vigorous high-intensity exercise increases aerobic fitness more effectively than moderate-intensity exercise, Lim says. However, humans and their workouts aren’t on paper and there are other factors that can turn flog-fests into false economy.

“Exercise between hard training sessions will allow your body to remain active while recovering, says Lim. “Low-intensity, low-impact exercise with minimal spinal loading is best – such as light swimming or yoga.

“This kind of training is less demanding on your muscles, joints and nervous system, allowing your body to rest and recover from fatigue and soreness.




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