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Knocked out by HIIT? Try This Instead

Knocked out by HIIT? Try This Instead

March 31, 2019

When it comes to exercise trends, nothing’s more hip than HIIT these days. Exercisers are flocking to High Intensity Interval Training in record numbers, and for good reason: When done effectively, it burns more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.


But like all forms of exercise, you can do too much of a good thing.


HIIT is designed to push you near your max capacity — essentially, to make your body scream “Uncle!” If you exercise that intensely more than twice a week, you risk injury. Conversely, if you’re breezing through multiple HIIT classes, you’re not actually HIIT training. 


To avoid both pitfalls, follow a balanced workout routine that produces results while staving off boredom and burnout.


To simplify things, we’ve devised an easy-to-follow, seven-day plan utilizing our Catalyst Fitness studio classes and personal training team below.


Try it out, and let us know how it works!


DAY1: fitLAB, Les Mills Grit, Sprint or a HIIT personal training session.


WHY NOW? You’re refreshed and energized from the weekend, so it’s the ideal time to HIIT it hard. Remember, the operative word here is “intensity”: If you’re not draining your tank during these classes, you’re shorting yourself.


DAY2: Active recovery (1 hour or less)


WHY NOW? High-intensity exercise builds up significant strain in your system, inhibiting athletic performance. A great way to help the body recover is through low-intensity aerobic activity. Walk, jog, bike or engage in any other form of cardio at an intensity just high enough to get your blood pumping. If,on a perceived exertion scale from 0-10, “0” is binge-watching Netflix and “10” is scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro, your perceived exertion should be a “3.”


DAY3: BodyPump, BodyFlow, or personal training session


WHY NOW? Yesterday’s recovery reduced the residual muscle fatigue you were experiencing from Monday’s high-intensity workout. In short, the time’s ripe for strength training.


DAY4: Day off


WHY NOW? Unless you’re prepping for the Olympic trials, there’s no reason — or benefit — to work out four days in a row. Remember, rest helps you recover, get stronger and perform better.


DAY5: fitLAB class, Les Mills Sprint or HIIT focused personal training session


WHY NOW? After a day off, your recuperated self will seize the challenge of a second high-intensity workout.


DAY6: Tempo cardio or Catalyst Cycling Class


WHY NOW? On the heels of HIIT, your body can handlethis exercise: 4-6 10-minute intervals at a perceived exertion of 6-7, with a 90-second rest between intervals. Tempo cardio enhances your performance forfuture HIIT workouts, because it’s designed to increase your fitness level. Maintain a hard but sustainable pace. You should be able to speak a few sentences but not, say, debate politics.


DAY7: Day off


WHY NOW? If you follow our schedule faithfully, you don’t need to work out more than five days a week. Nor will you do your body any favors by pushing it. Kick back and enjoy your day off. You’ve earned it.


Knocked out by HIIT? Try This Instead



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Protect Your Heart, Part 1: Understanding Heart Rate Zones

February 12, 2019

Tis the season: hearts are everywhere. Chocolates and love notes aside, let’s use February to talk about how to protect your heart: and no, we don’t mean swiping left or sliding into DMs. Your heart is one of the most essential parts of your body, and the first step is understanding exactly how heart rate zones work.

Knowing your heart rate zones is a great first step in understand how hard you are working, and how your body is responding to your workout.  Your heart rate might be much different from the person next to you depending on age, gender, fitness level, and individual variations,and that’s ok.  A good start is to find YOUR Maximum Heart Rate, using this simple formula: 220 minus your age.  Once you have that figured out,every workout will fall into one of the 5 zones.

Zone 1 is you just existing. As you start the class and gradually warm up, you’ll find that your heart rate rises gradually as you get warmer and warmer, moving you into Zone 2.  Think about using Zone 2 during your warm up before the real work begins.  When doing a steady workout, you might have aimed for Zone 3 and stayed there for the duration if your time on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike. HIIT workouts are going to demand frequent bursts into  Zone 4 and sometimes short ventures into Zone 5 before coming back down for a rest.  Hit that interval hard, take abreather as your heart rate comes down, then get ready for more intervals working back into these high zones.

As you get into the workout and work your way into these high zones, pay attention to your breathing, the pounding of your heart,the searing in your muscles.  Listen to what your body is telling you, and push yourself into that zone that is just gets you uncomfortable.  

The great news is that HIIT workouts are great for your heart and body!  Like revving the engine on a car, these ensure that your body gets to experience the whole range of intensity levels that steady endurance alone can’t offer.  And as you get fitter, the same intensity workout will start to feel that little bit easier and you can push yourself harder!

Stay tuned for the next of our Protect Your Heart series: the best foods for heart health.


Catalyst Fitness member James Thompson is a 4-time National Championship- winning rower who competed for the Canisius High School, West Side Rowing Club, and Cornell University teams. He currently competes as an elite level cyclist with the Shickluna Bikes/Catalyst Fitness cycling team.

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