How Sport Can be Your ‘Accidental’ HIIT Workout
HIIT workout. I’ve written those words a lot on this site. I even wrote a book on them! In this article I’m going to discuss how sport can be your accidental HIIT workout, helping you burn a lot of calories, lose weight and have fun without realising you’re doing a HIIT workout…
I played football last for the first time in a long time. It was 5 a-side, a decent standard. It was an hour long and was a really tough workout – especially given I’d performed a weight training session earlier in the day!
Being the fitness blogger/fitness data geek that I am, I wore a heart rate monitor to assess the calorie burn and to track my data during a 5 a-side match. I knew it’d be high (5 a-side can be brutally tough), but I was pretty amazed by what I saw.
The data below shows an hour. It’s worth bearing in mind, this included 2 spells in goal (every player takes a couple of turns in goal), which probably equated to around 10 minutes, meaning I had around 50 minutes of running).
If this picture below isn’t enough to convince you that sport is a great HIIT workout, I don’t know what is….
Why is sport such an effective HIIT workout?
There are lots of reasons a game like 5 a-side football is fantastic as a HIIT workout. It’s explosive, is sprint-based, is played at high speed, has very short rest periods and is multi-directional. All of these factors combined make for a perfect HIIT workout base.
The next issue is adherence. One of the big problems with exercise is the difficulty people have with adherence – sticking to a regular exercise regime. Sport helps avoid the adherence issue. For a lot of people, sport over ‘exercise’ is more fun, it’s a social activity and doesn’t feel like exercise.
Regular sporting participation is accidental working out. Your primary aim is to sport, not to improve your fitness. That’s a secondary benefit and one that shouldn’t be over-looked.
I was amazed at the heart rate data I picked up when I played last week – at over 1000 calories per hour, this exceeded the calorie burn from circuit training, spinning and any other class I can think of.
If sport is competitive, it’s regular and involves training, making it a commitment and a consistent workout. With training and matches, it’s at least two sessions per week. If you aren’t motivated by exercise per se, you may be motivated by sport and that could help you get active 2 or more times per week.
Orthapaedically, sport can be excellent. Games such as football, rugby, basketball, netball, hockey etc are multi direction, multi speed, involve jumping, balance. This might not seem like a big deal, but it honestly is. As adults, we rarely do a lot of these movements and can lose our abilities to do so – it sounds ridiculous, forgetting how to jump but I promise you, it happens.
As a personal trainer I try to programme some kind of explosive jumping movements into clients workouts where appropriate and you’d be amazed at how many adults have ‘forgotten’ how to jump. Its astounding to me.
The reason this is important is because not only does it improve your fitness, reduces your weight etc, it also makes you more athletic and significantly reduces your injury risk, which is a really big deal. The more injury-proof we are the better.
At over 1000 calories per hour, it’s a part of my training I want to continue, so next week, I’m playing again. I’ll be there as many weeks as I can, keeping conditioned, having fun and trying not to embarrass myself every week!
If you’d like more information and ideas around HIIT Workouts, check out my book on iBooks. It contains 52 fantastic HIIT workouts using all kinds of kit. Each workout is scaled, meaning it doesn’t matter what your level of fitness is, you can adjust the workout to suit!
In the meantime, if you subscribe to the Hoyles Fitness mailing list you’ll receive a free eBook containing 101 Health and Fitness Tips, plus offers and news exclusive to Hoyles Fitness subscribers. Click the image below to download…