January 22, 2012

Gimme a HIIT, man! ~ Rossana Jeran

After the holidays, need we be reminded that cardio is a necessary part of any exercise program, even if you don’t need to lose weight? The heart is a muscle too, so it needs exercise to stay strong and healthy.

The common belief is that the more cardio we do, the more calories we burn and the more weight we lose. Fortunately, it doesn’t totally work that way! Thank Goddess!

You heard it from me (I’ve done my homework!) and I hereby release you from spending hours and hours (and HOURS) a week doing cardio in the future! In fact, prolonged aerobic exercise, anything methodical, over 30 minutes, actually works against you and any weight loss goals you might have.

Are you ready to hear one of the best-kept secrets to losing fat?

Research shows that by choosing Interval Training over long, steady periods of cardio, you significantly increase your metabolism in up to two days post work out. This 24 to 48 hour increase in metabolic rate is what gives people results—fast!

So what is Interval Training? It is sometimes referred to as HIIT, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The specific method I use with my clients is called Tabata, an innovative, cardiovascular protocol studied by and named after Dr. Izumi Tabata, Ph.D., a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports.

His research showed that the Tabata method disrupts the body’s homeostasis more so than prolonged aerobic exercise, resulting in the body needing more energy to restore itself back to a normal, resting rate. This results in a longer fat-burning process.

Furthermore, when exercising at your all-out maximum effort, in short quick bursts, your body produces a chemical called catecholamine. This chemical triggers the body to start burning fat. Goodbye, belly fat!!

You see, prolonged aerobic exercise, anything over 30 minutes, increases the cortisol level in your body, a hormone that is released by the adrenal system when the body is over-stressed either by fear, too much physical exercise or emotional distress.

Sometimes referred to as the “fight or flight response,” high cortisol levels break down muscle instead of fat and encourage belly fat to stay put. Learn to work with your chemistry!

Work out at a higher intensity but shorter duration to produce catecholamine and make the fat-burning process last longer.

So, how exactly do you do Tabata? It is both easy and effective.

My motto is, “You can do anything for 20 seconds!” especially when you know you get to rest for 10 seconds after.

These intervals are specifically timed, following a 20-second burst of activity with a 10-second break, and can be applied to all kinds of physical activities.

Finding the one that best suits YOUR personal preference and fitness level is a very important aspect of doing Tabata. You must enjoy what you are doing!

I will do a DEMO in the video above, first with power walking and then running, but know that Tabata can be done with an

• Elliptical machine
• Swimming
• Jumping jacks
• Jumping rope
• Bicycling/Spinning
• Squats, push ups, etc…

Take note: You DO need to have access to a clock with a second-hand or a stopwatch so you can time your intervals.  

To begin, choose one exercise that you will do. Warm up for at least two minutes.

The key is to move as fast as you can (for you), while keeping good form, for a 20-second burst of action, followed by a 10-second period of rest.

Start with four minutes. That’s eight rounds or two cycles a minute. As your fitness level improves, you will want to increase your Tabata work out to 12-16 minutes per day, but that’s it. 

No more hours of long, boring cardio! And, depending on your fitness goals, doing Tabata 3+ days a week will have you seeing incredible results or break through any exercise plateau.

I offer a coached Tabata session on the Fit Conscious Happy mind/body product line. You can browse the entire line here. Fit Conscious Happy is available as a computer download, on iTunes or DVD.

Work smarter, not longer, because just like the heart, the brain is a muscle too! 🙂

To your health,


Rossana Jeran is a certified Sacred Breath/Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga teacher. She is also a CPR-certified personal trainer. Two years ago, Rossana established Fit Conscious Happy and created innovative, interval-based workouts that blend yoga, isometrics, cardio, weight training and Mindfulness meditation. These effective workouts have been proved to enhance cardiovascular performance, burn fat, and tone and strengthen muscles. Fit Conscious Happy offers fully programmable iPhone Apps and downloadable, 30 minute workouts for the computer or iTunes. Perfect for the busy person, family, traveler or student on the go!

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