Nothing says a hard workout like a body drenched in sweat. Leggings you could literally peel off. And greasy, dirty hair don’t care – right?

It’s the post ‘I nearly died during spin’ high, and we know it well.

From full-throttle bootcamps to TRX on repeat, it seems there’s no shortage of HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, designed to kick our butts into mega shape – come hell or coconut water.

But here’s the thing. HITT may give its die-hards the sweat they need to feel complete, but done too much and too often, and you’re setting yourself up for trouble. That’s according to leading research and experts like Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition.

Too much HITT exercise can throw your hormones off balance due to the amount of stress on the body. Without sufficient rest and recovery, the body is left to its own defenses, which typically includes holding on to fat, lowered immunity, recurring injuries and for those vanity types (who, us?) – accelerated signs of aging.

Think of the die-hard spinner.  She’s a total regular and works the front row every time.  But despite her goal to get leaner, she complains she’s put on a few. Must be all the sitting at work she thinks.  And back on the bike she goes…

Now this isn’t to say HITT workouts can’t be beneficial. Far from it. There’s loads of research to show these types of workouts can boost fat loss, increase cardiovascular function, decrease risk for dementia and so-forth. Key is not to over-do it, or better yet, balance your HITT workouts with lower intensity efforts.

“Exercise should make us feel, look, perform and live better… not crush us. Movement should help us function freely -not incapacitate us.” Dr. Berardi.

What if you could leave the gym feeling energized, not exhausted? What if, instead of doing more, you could do better?

Say hello to the Slow.

Dubbed LISS (low-intensity steady state) exercise, it’s a fitness movement that’s making waves thanks to recent studies showing slow and steady can be highly effective for achieving easier and long-lasting weight loss, as well as building and maintaining lean muscle mass.

But to be clear, slow exercise doesn’t mean swapping sprints for a leisurely walk. It means maintaining a steady pace for between 30 and 60 minutes. Whether you’re swimming, jogging or doing a barre class, you’re working your muscles with concentrated effort. You’re spending more time holding poses or lifting weights – instead of aiming for more and more reps.

How LISS Works:
Research shows by keeping your heart rate in a zone that’s between 60 and 80 percent, you’re in the optimal fat burning zone. Blood flow is steady and circulation is optimized. Further to that, it’s much kinder on your joints and knees.

Perhaps the biggest plus to LISS is the variety of ways to do it. Outdoor power walking or jogging for example, mixed with push-ups or step-ups on a bench are all good. If you’re a gym-goer, the rowing machine can be a great option, same for a stair climber.

And let’s not forget longevity too. Those who engage in this type of exercise have been shown to stick with it longer, versus those on the HITT wagon. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, subjects reported liking lower-intensity workouts more, finding HITT to be less enjoyable, and therefore less likely to keep doing.

Burpees and squat jumps on repeat? We’ll take a slow-pass too.

 

Think you’re over-doing it at the gym? Here are 2 articles you may want to read:

How Intense Workouts (and Over Training) Can Ruin Your Results.

Going Steady: Five Reasons to do Steady-State Cardio