The Father of HIIT

There are some pretty popular workout routines floating around these days, but HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is one that has become really popular. HIIT involves doing an exercise at a high intensity for a short period of time followed by a rest period. Due to the amount of work during the high intensity phase these workouts do not last very long. There are variety of these routines you can do and if you push yourself hard enough, you can get your heart racing. A good example of a HIIT workout would be running sprints. You would run all-out for the sprint and then rest for a certain period of time or as necessary.

Now there are short and simple exercises which tire the body rapidly, and so save our time; and time is something which we ought to keep strict account. –Seneca XV: On Brawn and Brains

One of the biggest excuses I hear today by people not exercising is that they don’t have enough time. Logging excessive hours in the gym is not for everyone. And if you study philosophy, there is some pretty good advice from Seneca, a Roman stoic philosopher. In his 15th letter, he discusses the excesses of the ancient equivalent to our modern-day gym rats. Spending all their time working out led to them eating more and drinking more. Seneca actually says they had spent so much time working on their bodies that their minds had become dull (this from the excessive food and no doubt wine). From a philosophical standpoint, getting in a quick HIIT workout may be the way to go. The Stoics believe that time is one of our most precious commodities. You only get so much of it, and it would be a shame to waste it.  Is there a better use for our time than spending all of it plodding along on the treadmill? Seneca seems to think so. He says that while yes we should be working out our bodies, we need to “come back soon from body to mind.” So get that metabolic pump in that is going to keep those calories burning throughout the day. But when you are done, consider working out the part of you that is really going to enhance your life and future. Again, here is Seneca:

The mind must be exercised both day and night, for it is nourished by moderate labor, and this form of exercise need not be hampered by cold or hot weather, or even by old age.

Never done a HIIT workout or don’t know where to begin? There is an amazing amount of free resources on the internet. Give them a try and see which ones work for you.

Going Solo

This is the first week you are on your own. At least in the gym where you will have no workout partner. This will be a good week for a self-assessment. Can you push yourself? Will you cheat yourself? Do you have the discipline to get to the gym while most of the world is still sleeping? Or will you take an extra day off and sleep a little longer?

The decisions you make this week will play a large part in your fitness success. This journey is ideally one you will be on the rest of your life. A mediocre output will result in mediocre success. But if you push through the barriers that your mind will create, you can find that you are able to do more than you imagined. This week will test whether you only have the desire to get fit or if you have the discipline to get fit.

Get a Journal

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Do you know what you did the last time you worked out your [fill in body part]? If you are not keeping a journal, then measuring your results (and your progress) is a guessing game. To stay in this game over the long haul, tracking your stats will help. If you don’t, you may find yourself doing the same things over and over again. If you want to stay the same, keep doing the same things. If you want to progress and get into the best shape of your life, you need to up the intensity. Depending on your goals this may mean adding weights or repetitions, running an extra mile, or doing something new. Find a way to push yourself a little harder. Measure it, write it, and then compare it.