A great exercise routine to boost yang in Winter body types is High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. Consisting of short, high-intensity bursts of exercise, HIIT is an alternative to continuous or steady-state aerobic activity. HIIT workouts typically involve intervals of 30 seconds to several minutes of intense exercise at 80-95% of maximum heart rate, separated by equal or longer amounts of recovery time at 40-45% of maximum heart rate. These work and recovery periods are repeated for a total workout time of 20-60 minutes. HIIT can be performed with different modes of exercise such as running/sprinting, cycling, swimming, rowing, or elliptical cross-training.
Since Winter body types tend to be cool and yin-dominant by nature, HIIT workouts can provide some balance for these types by increasing internal “fire” and revving up yang. Elevating heart rate and working up a sweat can energize these body types and boost metabolism. Compared to steady-state aerobic exercise, HIIT has been shown to burn more calories and increase fat oxidation, even after the workout is complete. HIIT significantly increases both aerobic and anaerobic fitness and improves cholesterol profiles and insulin sensitivity. Research also suggests it may be more effective at reducing body fat than other types of exercise.
HIIT workouts can be completed in shorter periods of time than continuous endurance workouts, making them a convenient option for those with busy schedules. However, because they tend to be more exhaustive and energy-intensive, they also require longer recovery periods between workouts and should not be performed on consecutive days. In order to reduce the risk of injury, interval training workouts should gradually be incorporated into exercise routines only after a base level of aerobic fitness is established. Depending on your fitness level and needs, you may also need to adjust the duration, intensity, or type of exercise. Here are two examples of HIIT workouts:
1:1 HIIT Workout
3 minutes of high-intensity exercise, alternated with 3 minutes of recovery time. Repeat this combination 3 to 5 times per workout. Repeat workout 3 times a week.
Wingate Interval Workout 30 seconds of maximum effort, alternated with 4 minutes of recovery. Repeat this combination 3 to 5 times per workout. Repeat workout 3 times a week.
American College of Sports Medicine. 2014. High-Intensity Interval Training https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf
Boutcher, S.H. 2010. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. Journal of Obesity doi:10.1155/2011/868305
Shiraev, T. and G. Barclay. 2012. Evidence based exercise: Clinical benefits of high intensity interval training. Australian Family Physician 41(12):960-962
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