There was once a time when exercise meant a few sessions each week spent training or playing sport. Today, science has come a long way from that. Studies have shown that in order to lose weight, you need to combine three types of activity: high-intensity interval training (HIIT); low-intensity, or “incidental” activity; and resistance training.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
In the 1990s, researchers in Japan made an intriguing discovery: just four minutes of high-intensity exercise (four cycles of a 20-second sprint followed by a 10-second active recovery), when carried out for five days per week over a six-week period, could deliver equivalent fitness to one hour of normal-intensity exercise.
Since the discovery of HIIT, evidence of its benefits has continued to grow. Researchers have learned that unlike normal-intensity exercise, HIIT directly targets visceral fat, burning away the fatty deposits that can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Recently, studies have also shown that as well as improving fitness, HIIT can actually reverse the effects of ageing on the mitochondria – the power-houses of the cell. As we age, the ability of the mitochondria to obtain energy by burning glucose declines. In tests, however, HIIT boosted the performance of mitochondria by 49% in people aged 18-30, and by a stunning 69% in people aged 65-80.
Our aim is to get you to a healthy weight with minimal fuss, in minimal time. This is why HIIT is central to our exercise plan: we know how busy life can be, and so we work with your schedule, not against it.
It is well-known that in order to be fit, you have to engage in what doctors call MVPA – “moderate/vigorous physical activity”.
What is less well-known is that your activity level between training sessions also impacts strongly on your health. In a review of 48 studies conducted over a 15-year period from 1996 to 2011, researchers found a clear link between sedentary behaviour (independent of physical exercise) and mortality risk. Living a sedentary lifestyle was also a predictor of increased weight gain from childhood to adulthood. A further study has shown that in older adults, incidental activity can help to protect against cognitive decline.
We’re passionate about turning theory into practice, so here are some ideas to help get you off the sofa and on your feet:
On the way to work get off the bus one or two stops early
When you get to work take the stairs, not the elevators or the lift
In the office
- take regular “desk breaks”: even a three-minute walk around the building will help to keep your muscles and metabolism well-tuned.
- walk about when you are on the phone
- drink plenty of water: this will make sure you get up a few more times through the day to use the bathroom!
- use your lunch break to go for a walk
- catch up for a walk with a friend, instead of a coffee
- if you can, walk to the local shops instead of driving
- instead of reading on the sofa, download an audio book and go for a walk – it’s a great way to unwind.
Resistance training: it’s not just for body-builders
Muscle accounts for 20% of resting calorie expenditure. And so the more muscle tissue you have, the more energy you burn up at rest. This is why resistance training forms a key part of the Fast 800 exercise regime.
By building more muscle tissue, you can expect to achieve:
- increased lean body mass
- increased muscle strength
- better body shape
- an improved resting metabolic rate
- lower fasting blood glucose
- lowered risk of osteoporosis, and
- lowered blood pressure.
You should aim to do a minimum of two resistance training sessions per week, on two non-consecutive days, made up of 8-10 sets of exercises focused on different muscle groups, with 8-10 repetitions in each.
Research suggests that in order to obtain maximum reduction in blood pressure, your workout should also include at least one element of “isometric” training. Isometric training involves maintaining a fixed position rather than carrying out repeated movements. Examples include the plank, the wall-sit, and the glute-bridge.