High Intensity Training for over 50’s

I can’t recommend High Intensity Training for over 50’s highly enough. At the age of 55, it has become even more important. 

I have created an easy to understand introduction to HIT training.

I would appreciate you having a look.

This might just be the first step to a different level of health and fitness.

Some terms used by gym instructors and coaches –

Aerobic capacity – Your body’s maximal oxygen uptake during intense exercise. The more conditioned you are, the more oxygen can be taken in and used by your body.
Conditioned – The process of training to become physically fit. This will involve exercise, diet, and rest. There is also a psychological process required to give individuals greater resilience when faced with physical stress.
VO2 peak or Max – This term is used as an abbreviation to describe Aerobic capacity. V = Volume. O = Oxygen. Max = The maximum
Cardiovascular – The circulatory system, the heart and blood vessels. Your heart is a muscle and should be able to pump large volumes of oxygenated blood with each beat. Unlike your leg muscles, your heart won’t become fatigued, although due to disease of the heart and blood vessels it can be put under stress but if it lacks fitness to pump the much-needed oxygen around your body, then this will result in your legs not getting the oxygen they need and they will become fatigued. The good news is that HIT can make your heart fitter.

Lung capacity and blood health – It’s all well and good having a fit heart but if you don’t have the lung capacity, the average total lung capacity of an adult human male is about 6 of litres of air, then clearly the amount of oxygen available for each breath is reduced. Smoking, disease and illness can all be negative factors in lung capacity.
The health of your blood can also influence the transportation of oxygen. Factors such as dehydration or anaemia can have a negative impact.

What is HIT?

HIT stands for High-intensity interval training. Sometimes referred to as HIIT.
If an individual is working to create a maximum heart rate between 80-100% over short intensive exercises with a short recovery and then repeat, this would be HIT training. The activity should last between 30 seconds and 2 – 3 minutes, depending on the ratio of work-to-recovery used and the person’s level of fitness. A session should not last much longer than 30 minutes, although I do see sessions being coached for longer than this but may be due to other factors such as – too much rest time, the coach including other non-HIT exercises to add variety. The warm-up and cool down will also add extra time to a session.

What are the benefits of HIT?

The difference between HIT and other exercises is that HIT is effective for specific body systems that, if improved, show marked changes in your health and fitness. Other forms of exercise are also important and cannot be ignored but as we are talking about HIT, it makes sense to focus on HIT’s scientifically studied results.

  • Cell Metabolism – Anaerobic interval training. A study has shown HIT reduces ageing at the cellular level, by increasing the production of proteins for the mitochondria, your cells’ energy-releasing powerhouses, which otherwise deteriorates over the years. Strength training also achieves this but HIT is more effective.
  • HIT releases a protein that protects nerve cells which aid learning and memory.
  • You will also burn fat for some time after you have stopped exercising. This is due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), A HIT session burns up to 50% more fat than a regular cardio workout.
  • HIT also produces muscle building hormones.
  • You can have amazing results with as little as 20 minutes activity, as long as you commit to it being high intensity.
  • Your Aerobic capacity and your body’s fitness conditioning will improve.
  • As you become fitter, your VO2 peak will improve.
  • Your Cardiovascular system will also benefit. Your heart will be stronger and you will pump blood more effectively, reducing fatigue.
  • Your Lungs will be getting a good working, which can only benefit your lung capacity and your blood health should be monitored regularly for improvements in unhealthy cholesterol or reduced glucose levels.

Examples of HIT

  • Treadmill training that incorporates a short period of speed followed by a short rest before and repeat. 10 minutes would be sufficient.
  • Circuit training and other similar forms of high-intensity training such as Meta Fit.
  • Sprint training – 30 – 50 metres flat-out run. Walk back and do again. CAUTION this form of exercise can cause injuries if you don’t warm up or have no basic level of fitness.
  • Spin classes that are HIT specific.
  • Basically, any form of activity that you are clearly giving 80 – 100% effort. Kettlebells, jump ropes, boxing, cycling. There’s no limit when it comes to this type of training and that’s why it can be for everyone of all abilities.

Remember it’s YOUR 80-100%, not Mr Fitness standing next to you. As long as you are honest with yourself, then you are doing HIT!

So is it safe for over 50’s?

The short answer is yes! All the benefits already mentioned don’t suddenly stop being a benefit when you reach 50. In fact, the benefits are probably more important.
It clearly makes sense to speak to your doctor if you have any reservations and don’t do it if you know of any reason that prevents you from doing HIT but if you are healthy and over 50-year-old, then go for it!

What has it done for me?

I have been lucky enough to have had a good level of but now it’s all about stopping the decline of ageing as much as I can.

  • When I do HIT training, I notice that when I go for a run, I have more of a spring in my step and find hills easier.
  • When I do weight training, I can tolerate lactic acid better.
  • Cycling is more powerful.
  • My gait when walking feels smoother.
  • I have an inner sense of wellbeing that appears to come from my fitness level.
  • I am more motivated and willing to try different fitness classes.
  • My weight remains at a healthy level.
  • I feel mentally sharper.

I stopped HIT training for several months last year due to a wrist injury (not related to HIT) and I noticed that all the above benefits were starting to reverse. Not dramatically but subtle things like when out a walk with my dog, I felt less bouncy on my feet.

My conclusion – HIT has positive effects on your body.

No matter what your age is.


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