Strength and flexibility are two vital components to overall fitness. The medical and fitness community recognize that high-intensity interval training (HIIT Workouts) can build women’s strength and cardio fitness even faster than traditional workouts. Add stretching to the mix, like we do at the end of every HIIT workout at SweatBox, and you’ve got a killer trifecta of getting in shape, getting stronger, and boosting flexibility to prevent injury.
What is HIIT? HIIT workouts alternate between periods of high intensity bursts of activity and low-intensity recovery exercise. The idea is simple: during high-intensity periods, you’re pushing yourself almost as hard as you can. During low-intensity periods, you allow your body to recover. The appeal is that a HIIT workout gives you more bang for your workout buck, getting you in better shape in less time than you’d normally spend in the gym.
With careers, families, and social commitments, carving out enough hours during the day to get it all done can be a challenge for many women. It’s too easy to allow your own health and self-care take a backseat to other priorities. For many women, it’s critical to maximize their time and energy to get the most out of their workouts.
HIIT workouts can help women achieve and maintain optimal health, regardless of their fitness goals. The strength building component of HIIT can help women maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI), boost their metabolism, and even combat age-related bone and muscle loss.
Many women find it challenging to maintain a steady, healthy weight throughout their adult years. Pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations. and menopause may compound these challenges. When women build lean muscle, their total fat stores usually decrease naturally as a result. Women’s health experts tout the strength-training components of HIIT workouts as a way for women of all ages and fitness levels get and stay fit. HIIT workouts can dramatically increase women’s muscle volume while simultaneously reducing fat.
Women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider explains how HIIT workouts are different than traditional aerobic workouts: “HIIT often pushes the body into a greater recovery phase, which can cause you to burn more calories after the workout than running only…Studies show that it can very effective for [women] looking to burn fat [and build muscle].”
Dr. Wider also claims that HIIT workouts benefit women in ways other than just strength building and calorie-burning. The weight-bearing strength components of some HIIT workouts—such as those done at our Washington, D.C. U Street studio, SweatBox—can help women improve their bone health. According to Dr. Wider, “Osteoporosis is a disease of brittle bones that affects millions of women in our country…Medical professionals will always recommend weight-bearing exercises to women to improve and maintain their bone health.”
Perhaps you’re intrigued. Interested in checking out a HIIT strength-building class? SweatBox’s Push & Pull workout combines pulling movements for your biceps, back, and forearms, combined with pushing exercises to work your chest, triceps, and shoulders.
It’s an obvious fact: women’s bodies are built differently than men’s. This is why it’s important for women to work with fitness pros who understand women’s unique metabolisms, physiological make-ups, and workout needs.
One example is the difference in male and female muscle. Muscle tissue is gender non-specific. However, pound for pound, men’s bodies naturally have a higher volume of muscle than women of the same weight do. Therefore, it can be more challenging for women to build muscle doing the same exercises men do. That why it’s important for women to invest the time and energy focusing on the correct exercises and workouts which will help the female body build muscle.
Ultimately, targeted strength training combined with cardio is the key to a strong female body. HIIT workouts can help women build lean muscle quickly. Research shows that cardio performed in tandem with strength training burns more fat and builds more muscle than cardio alone.
Medically speaking, the best way for women to build strength and increase muscle is to reduce overall body fat while simultaneously increasing their overall muscle volume. HIIT workouts serve a dual purpose for women who want to boost their strength: 1) HIIT workouts reduce overall body fat percentage and 2) HIIT workouts boost lean muscle, which will result in a higher metabolism.
Increasing lean muscle has multiple benefits. Lifting weights can boost women’s metabolism, which helps the body burn more calories, even while at rest. Research has demonstrated that women’s bodies show the metabolic effects of strength training for up to 24 hours after a strength-training session.
Strength training also boosts women’s levels of human growth hormone (HGH). A woman’s natural production of vital HGH increases by as much as 771% during a HIIT workout. Why is this relevant? Higher levels of natural HGH can boost bone density, protect your heart, stop weight gain, protect your brain, and improve life expectancy. HGH can even help protect neurons from aging and reduce the risk of dementia.
Lean muscle is not just about looking good in your yoga pants (although that’s a perk!), it’s clear that more lean muscle means better health. Women who build strength and increase muscle volume through HIIT will burn fat, build bone density, and even stave off common problems of aging! Time to pack your gym bag? We thought so …
Unless you’re a professional gymnast or yoga instructor, many women don’t give much thought to how flexibility can impact their overall health and well-being. The truth is that being flexible can significantly improve your health.
Research published in the American Journal of Physiology found that an “inability to touch your toes while in a seated position (sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you) might mean your arteries have become stiff, and you have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.” Increased flexibility can also protect against injury, boost sports performance, support proper muscle alignment (think posture!), and increase functional range of motion.
How do you become more flexible? Of course you know that regular stretching can increase flexibility. But it may surprise you to learn that strength training can boost your flexibility, as well. This is because tight muscles are often weak muscles.
So how do you boost your flexibility if you’re a bit stiff? Dr. Karen Sutton of Yale Orthopedics recommends, ““Make sure you warm up before…[stretching]. A warm muscle is a more flexible muscle, and stretching while your muscles are cold could lead to strain. Simple muscle activities like jumping jacks or running in place are enough to get your blood pumping first.”
At SweatBox, we can guarantee you your muscles will be nice and warm before your SweatBoss leads you through series of gentle stretches at the end of your workout. The result? Warm, flexible, stronger muscles, and improved long-term health and flexibility.
HIIIT workouts can help women build strength and flexibility quickly. Improved strength and greater flexibility have many positive health and wellness benefits, including a higher metabolism, decreased fat reserves, better bone health, even heart and brain protection. Women of all fitness levels and ages can benefit from the positive results of HIIT workouts.
If you want to take a break from your busy workday to try a HIIT workout that will get you in phenomenal shape, please stop by SweatBox for a free introductory class.
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