Bored With Exercise? Consider VIIT: Variable Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular fitness program because people achieve good results in less time, when compared to more moderate workouts.
HIIT alternates short bursts of vigorous activity with intervals of low or moderate activity, and while it quickly enhances athletic performance, the intensity involved is more than many of us care to engage in.
Fortunately, for those wanting an effective but more moderate way to get in shape, many fitness centers now offer variable-intensity interval training (VIIT).
VIIT is a type of exercise that alternates three intensity levels of activity: high, moderate, and low. The high-intensity intervals require 90 percent effort, the low-intensity intervals about a 40 percent effort—moderate effort naturally lies somewhere between.
VIIT workouts engage all the body’s five major muscle groups, and incorporate cardio, strength, and agility conditioning. The constant change of pace and exercise activity creates a welcome workout variety. Participants can often choose from exercise options that make VIIT suitable for different fitness levels.
The Three Intensity Levels
VIIT’s low-intensity segments utilize controlled movements that increase core strength, balance, and flexibility. These exercises, often taken from the yoga and Pilates traditions, also diminish anxiety, promote good sleep, strengthen the immune system, and serve as the active recovery period in a VIIT workout.
The moderate-intensity segments focus on muscle flexibility, strength, and endurance. This is where people feel their muscles “burn” as they do repetitive movements such as lunges, planks, push-ups, and squats, or perform activities utilizing hand weights or kettle bells. These exercises tone muscle, develop lean muscle mass, and moderately elevate pulse and respiration.
VIIT’s high-intensity segments involve aerobic activities ideally performed at 90 percent of a person’s capacity; VIIT beginners may need to work their way up to that ideal. (At 90 percent capacity people cannot speak more than three consecutive words without having to take breath.) Typically during the high-intensity segment of VIIT workouts, short bursts of vigorous activity alternate with short rest or recovery periods, such as 30 seconds of a jumping activity, followed by 30 seconds of walking in place.
One VIIT workout might include five minutes of moderate-intensity strengthening exercises, followed by five minutes of high-intensity intervals, and then a final five minutes of low-intensity controlled movement. However, different gyms and instructors will offer their own versions of VIIT.
Common VIIT Sense
Because VIIT tends to be a full body workout addressing strength, flexibility, and endurance the risk for injury is low—when done with common sense.
If you have your doctor’s blessing to exercise and want to try VIIT, make sure the instructor, or workout video includes activity options that suit your fitness level. Slow and steady is a smart way to reach new exercise goals.