HIIT, CrossFit, Hot Yoga and Spinning: Which workouts are worth the burn?

by Angela Davis/@jerseygirlsport Health and wellness is a multi-billion dollar industry. We are bombarded everyday with message that remind us to stay in shape, stay healthy, and to keep fit. To keep that active, healthy lifestyle working out is a must. There are so many ways to get and stay active and between the gym, personal trainers and the latest in workout routines, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which is the best. With so many workout trends, which ones are worth your time and sweat?
Dr. Scott Weiss
Dr. Scott Weiss
We've got the answers! Dr. Scott Weiss, a  licensed physical therapist and board certified athletic trainer who has worked with celebrities and Olympic, NFL and NHL athletes gives us his opinion on what’s hot or maybe not-so-hot in workout routines. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): This is an insanely popular workout style for people who want to burn a massive amount of calories in a short amount of time. According to Dr. Weiss:
“People are using HIIT for not only aerobic training but weight training as well. HIT for muscular training manipulates the time of both the positive and negative contractions on the muscle, elongating the negative portion.”
Why it’s HOT: Touted as one of the top fitness trends of 2014, HIIT is praised for increasing your metabolism and being an accessible workout for all.
“HIIT workouts are one of the best ways to burn calories and are therefore a great program for weight-loss,” explains Dr. Weiss. “When trying to lose weight it is important to focus on the total calories burned in one session, and keeping to a regimen of burning 300-500 calories per session for the majority of the week- which is definitely doable if you stick to a HIIT routine.”
But might be NOT: In order to get the best possible outcome from HIIT, you need to make sure that you maintain proper form and keep your work to rest ratios consistent. Failure to do so can mean that certain muscles may be feeling too much strain and, on the flipside, can also mean that you can find yourself ignoring muscle groups completely. Sculpting these workouts by yourself is one of the upsides of HIIT, but without an instructor you may not be hitting all areas of your body.
“When doing workouts by yourself, make sure to also keep your program well-rounded,” adds Dr. Weiss. “HIIT workouts can lack excitement and may even seem boring. You can try to avoid this by including functional weight training, balance and flexibility exercises as well.”  
Spinning Class: If you've been on Facebook, you've seen the videos of the hip-hop spinning class where the music is high and the spinners are amped! This aerobic class draws hundreds of people to gyms every year and it's a staple for many gyms looking to increase their female clientele. Why it’s HOT: With both high energy and high caloric burn, one spin class will make you feel like you can take over the world. Dr. Weiss adds:
“Spin classes are a great way to get people interested in activities such as real cycling and biking, which are great functional sports that can be done anywhere in the world.”
But might be NOT: If you replace all of your workouts with only spinning, you could potentially find yourself reaching a fitness plateau. Keeping your fitness routine the same day after day will only keep you working the same muscles, leading to muscle imbalances and a halt in your desired weight-loss.
“If cycling is your only form of exercise, you will develop a specific body type with calves and thighs dominating. Tight abdominals, short hip flexors and a hunched posture is not good if you have a history of Lower Back Pain (LBP). This is definitely something to keep in mind if you are thinking about trying a spinning class,” Dr. Weiss advises.
CrossFit: This has also become extremely popular due to social media. It's designed to push your body to its limit using weight with cardio exercises. Why it’s HOT: Men and women alike tend to love the small-gym culture, along with the fact that anyone, any age can do it. It is also praised for its full-body complete workout that keeps you from getting stuck in the dreaded workout rut.
“CrossFit combines Olympic lifting, acrobatic training, gymnastics, martial arts and functional movements, creating some of the best physical workouts in the world,” Dr. Weiss says. “One must: you need a great trainer for this form of exercise. Understanding the technique for each of the movements is paramount for acquiring the skill.”
But might be NOT: There have been many recent reports of injury coming directly from CrossFit training.  These injuries are minor sprains and strains of muscle tendon and ligament, but there have also been reports of severe dislocations- and even spinal cord injury.
“High intensity, high volume and complex skill can make CrossFit a stage for injury.  The intensity of the techniques involved require a higher amount of force that almost any other fitness regimens,” Dr. Weiss explains. “I usually see one person every few months injured specifically from CrossFit, but then incontrast, others I work with have changed their life with Cross Fit.” 
Hot YogaThis is one of my personal favorites. This form of yoga in a room at temperature at or above 100 degrees, not only promotes the release of toxins through sweat, but it promotes the stretching and elongating of muscles.  Why it’s HOT: Well, the room- literally! The increased heat makes your muscles, tendons and ligaments have more elongation, allowing you to assume the postures more easily. Devotees also say they feel much lighter after a good class, in both mind and body. According to Dr. Weiss, the great sweat you develop during a class of hot yoga allows you to release all of your toxins, which explains the amazing feeling you’ll have once it’s over. But might be NOT: No matter how slow the movements are, exercising in a 100° room can definitely cause discomfort for some. Feeling dizzy and lightheaded is not uncommon, and, as Dr. Weiss adds,
“increased elasticity is the whole reason for hot yoga, but you need to be cautious and not overdo it. The heat can trick people into pushing themselves too far which can result in injury.” 
It seems that "age and stage" will determine which workout routine is best for you. I suggest a variety by changing up your routine every 3-4 weeks to work your muscles differently and to prevent plateauing. Whatever you are doing, the point is to be safe. Keeping a good form and knowing your limits is critical to any exercise regimen. OK. Now let's go sweat!  

Author: Jersey Girl Sports

Jersey Girl Sports is a lifestyle brand dedicated to the millions of women who like to watch sports. We present sports from the female perspective--the way we see it, how we talk about it and what we have to say about it. It's sports on OUR terms. We can enjoy sports as much as any man, just with better shoes.

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