Michael answers Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I do HIT?

  • HIT, high intensity training, is an incredibly time efficient way of getting many of the major benefits of doing exercise. If you do a few minutes a day, 3 days a week, then within 6 weeks you should see improvements in:
    • your aerobic fitness level (a measure of how strong your heart and lungs are)
    • your insulin sensitivity (and therefore your body’s ability to cope with sugar)
    • you should also begin to see some fat loss with better tone

Who benefits from HIT?

  • There are different versions of HIT workouts that have been developed by scientists to target different people, depending on your current age, level of fitness, weight and medical status. At one level HIT can and is used by top athletes to supplement their most strenuous workouts. At the other extreme it has been tested on overweight diabetics, the elderly and those with a history of heart disease.

Who is advised not to do HIT?

  • If you are unfit, overweight, or have a history of heart disease, stroke or diabetes it is best to see your doctor before starting any new exercise regime. The exercises we recommend start off gently and slowly build over time so as to minimise the risk of injury.
  • If you answer yes to any of the questions below, we would recommend you consult your doctor before starting this or any exercise program.
    1. Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity?
    2. Have you been told by your doctor that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor because you have a heart condition ?
    3. Have you had any chest pain in the past month when not doing physical activity?
    4. Do you lose your balance as a result of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness/collapse?
    5. Do you have a bone or joint problem (eg  back, knee, or hip) that could be made worse by exercise?
    6. Is your doctor currently prescribing medication for your blood pressure or heart condition?
    7. Are you currently pregnant or have you given birth in the last 2 months?
    8. Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity?

How often should I do HIT?

  • It is recommended that you do the Fast Fitness HIT exercises a maximum of 3 times per week with recovery days between, as these are also important. Exercise creates stress and your body needs time to recover. HIT is particularly good at improving the heart and lungs. You also need to build muscle strength, for which we list a range of Fast Strength exercises. These can also be done 3 times a week, preferably on days when you are not doing HIT.

Do the HIT days have to be non-consecutive?

  • They should be non-consecutive so that your body has time to recover and begin essential repairs.

Can I do HIT if I’m feeling unwell?

  • It is best not to do HIT or any other form of heavy exercise while you are unwell.

Can I do HIT if I’m injured?

  • Depending on the nature of the injury it is often best to take time off from exercise to give your joints time to recover.

What tests can I do to monitor changes to my fitness?

  • The ones we recommend include:
    • Resting Heart Rate
    • VO2 max
    • Waist / height ratio
    • Glucose tolerance
    • For more information see the “Tracking” page on this website and read the Fast Exercise book. (arrow button – to go to page)

What tests can I do to monitor changes to my strength?

  • A simple test is the number of press-ups you can do in a minute.

How do I find my resting heart rate (HRrest)?

  • Turn your hand so palm is facing you. Use your index and middle finger from your other hand to measure it at the wrist, just below the thumb. Measure it when you are sitting down and relaxed, preferably first thing in the morning. Take your pulse for 10 seconds and then multiply the result by 6 to get your heart rate per minute.

How do I find my maximum heart rate (HRmax)?

  • A simple calculation using your age gives a reliable estimation or you can do a run / cycle test and measure your peak heart rate. See the “Tracking” page on this website and read the Fast Exercise book for more information and the calculation. (arrow button – to go to page)

Is there a benefit to adding HIT to my current exercise regime?

  • It depends what your current regime consists of. If you are already doing a great deal of exercise with lots of intensity and much strength building then adding on extra HIT may not be helpful. Peta Bee likes to exercise for about an hour a day, mainly running, and builds HIT into these workouts. Michael cycles, only a mile or so to the train station, and adds HIT to this when he can. We would like to hear more from those who are already familiar with incorporating HIT into their lives.

Is there any special equipment necessary for HIT?

  • The best tested forms of HIT involve cycling, running and walking. The most important thing is to build intensity into your workout and this can either be done using gym equipment or by running/cycling at speed up hills. Most of the strength workouts can be done with only a few of the exercises using a chair or park bench.

I swim regularly and would like to continue. Should I do HIT before or after my workout or on another day altogether?

  • You can build HIT into your swimming regime simply by doing short sprints rather than sticking to a steady pace.

Should I do the Fast Diet as well as Fast Exercise?

  • Broadly speaking the best thing to do if you want to lose fat and get healthy is to combine calorie restriction with exercise. Research has shown, for example, that combining alternate day fasting, (a regime we write about in the Fast Diet), with exercise produces superior changes in body weight, body composition and lipid indicators of heart disease risk than doing it alone.

I’m doing the Fast Diet, should I do HIT on fast days or days where I’m eating normally?

  • It is entirely up to you and how you feel. There is some evidence that you will burn more fat in the fasted state and that doing HIT suppresses appetite for up to 15 hours, so you may find they work well together. You may find, however, that it feels too much like hard work. Listen to your body.

Is HIT good for weight loss?

  • Studies have shown that HIT can lead to weight loss and fat burning, especially the reduction of dangerous visceral fat. When you push the intensity of your workouts not only does your body become more efficient at burning fat, it also seems to suppress appetite in ways that low intensity workouts do not. That said, you are only likely to achieve sustainable weight loss if you combine exercise with some form of calorie restriction.

Do I need to stretch before HIT?

  • If you are running, jogging or swimming then static stretching, such as touching the toes or extending the hamstrings, is unlikely to reduce the risk of injury. If you are going for a run then you should start off with a walk or gentle jog, to warm yourself up, before pushing yourself. If you find it helpful to stretch before you start, make it dynamic, with movements such as arm circling and side-stepping.

Do I need to warm up before HIT?

  • There are no clear rules. It depends on you and how you like to take your HIT. Most HIT studies based on cycling recommend 2 – 5 minutes of gentle workout specific activity. Some researchers think you need less, but it would be foolish to start any workout without some preparation.

Do I need to cool down after HIT?

  • After a burst of intense exercise it is best not to stop moving entirely. If you have been sprinting, jog slowly or walk. Try spending a few minutes doing the same activity at a slower pace to bring your blood pressure and heart rate back to normal.

Can I eat immediately before Fast Exercise?

  • Don’t attempt Fast Exercise immediately after eating, the main risk is not cramping, it’s vomiting!

Do I need to load up on carbohydrates before or after Fast Exercise?

  • Unless you are exercising for more than an hour a day then you are likely to have plenty of carbohydrates on board and eating lots of pasta after a workout will simply make you fat.