A few years ago, I had a friend who plateaued within about 10 pounds of her healthy goal weight. She ate a well-balanced, healthy diet and worked out almost every day, but she just could not get the scales to budge. At the advice of some others, she sought the help of a personal trainer, who recommended she try high intensity interval training, or HIIT.
The benefits of HIIT include a shorter workout with high fat-burning and cardiovascular benefits. The popular weight loss site SparkPeople recommends that you see your physician before beginning a HIIT regimen.
If you are ready for a HIIT routine, one of your best tools can be your workout playlist. Even if you are not quite in shape for HIIT, a lower intensity workout can still be achieved by using your playlist to regulate your stride and pace, thus giving you an interval workout at your own level of fitness.
How can my playlist help?
According to a study by Brunel University, listening to music and exercising to the beat can increase your endurance by 15 percent. In a HIIT program, you will have high intensity intervals that challenge you to take your workout to the limit before coming back down to a lower level and then starting again. If a great song that pumps you up for the intense portion increases your endurance significantly, you will get better results from your efforts.
Of course, slowing down is not always so easy, either. In a HIIT regimen, you must alternate high intensity periods with lower intensity intervals. But like a driver coming off a freeway, sometimes it can be hard to go back to the lower speed limit and stay in that range. According to research from the University of Oxford, fast-paced songs only make this transition harder, especially for people with musical training.
Setting up your tunes
You'll want to choose the right songs in the right order for your playlist. Generally, a HIIT workout consists of the following intervals: a few minutes of warm up, high intensity intervals of maximum effort interspersed with lower intensity intervals of medium-high effort, and a few minutes of cool down. The higher and lower intensity intervals are repeated in alternating fashion to give you the workout you desire.
You will want to lay out your playlist to reflect the level of intensity needed for each segment of your workout. If you are an Elvis fan, you might warm up with "Love Me Tender" but you'd be better off with the pounding beat of "Burning Love" for the high intensity portions.
One thing to note is that your highest intensity intervals in a HIIT routine are quite short compared to the lower level parts of the workout. These bursts of maximum effort are only one or two minutes in length. Most songs are longer than that. If you just can't slow down with a heart pumping jam in your ear, feel free to cut your song short and put in a longer version when you build more stamina.