Break schemes! High intensity training for the elderly

Juanjo Zabala

25 May, 2016

High Intensity Training (HIIT) is a training system based on short-term sessions of between 20 or 30 minutes and with high intensity work Tradition has been considered optimal for young people but lately it can also be followed by elderly people if done safely and guided by a professional.

Although the formats can be diverse, we usually talk about workouts that combine high intensity intervals with others of moderate intensity, which allow an active recovery between normal interval and intense interval.
Studies in relation to HIIT or high intensity training are demonstrating that faster physiological and metabolic adaptations are produced, as well as the most beneficial regulation of LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, improving the maximum VO2 and more muscle adaptations, among others.
Is it suitable for the elderly?
Usually, these training systems are aimed at young and middle-aged people, but are they suitable for the elderly? Yes, they are. Different studies have shown that, if they are executed under optimum safety conditions, high-intensity workouts also provide benefits for the elderly.
Several studies show that strength training programs with high workloads produce significant increases in strength in both young people and elderly people. There are also increases in maximum power and post-strength training levels. In fact, the surprise in the studies done is that the elderly have a capacity similar to the one of the young people to increase the muscular power in functional activities.
Some data suggest that the realization of HIIT training in the elderly promotes the increase in bone mineral content, since the work done generates a higher osteoblastic activity and increases the bone formation for the increase in protein and DNA synthesis . These improvements are specifically located in areas that are directly stimulated.
On the contrary, it seems that there are no major cardiorespiratory adaptations in people who do a traditional job in relation to those who do it with high intensity. This seems logical, considering that the adaptations useful for the elderly are more linked to the duration of the exercise, and therefore the work to be carried out requires a duration that the high intensity work can not guarantee.
Considerations that must be taken into account in the HIIT for the elderly
These and other adaptations still to come to an end (such as hormones, endocrine ...) suggest that high intensity training can be interesting for both young people and the elderly. But, in this group especially, we have to take into account a series of considerations.
1. Previous sports medical examination and guidance from a sports coach
First of all, we must be aware of the greater fragility of the elderly. Before doing any physical activity, but in a very special way with high intensity training, it is essential to have a sports medical examination that determines the possible limitations to the effort that the person has. The possible contraindications must be communicated to the sports coach who oversees the work, which is an indispensable figure. It is not advisable to do an HIIT job without the programming and supervision of a specialist sports coach.
2. Guarantee the principle of progression in training
High intensity training must be considered while preserving the principle of progression. We must carefully plan the starting point and the way in which we will increase the intensity of the training. High intensity workouts have an added risk, because we strain the body beyond what is usual in a less intense workout. That is why you have to be careful in the progression, and not have any prey.
3. Facilitate the day to day of the person
It is necessary to assess whether the work we carry out allows a person's functional improvement. In other words, we must ask ourselves if the work we do will allow the day to day adulthood to develop in better conditions. Because training in itself does not make sense, if it is not to make the person's living conditions improve, and therefore, HIIT training will not make sense if it does not provide necessary and greater benefits than a training session. moderate intensity

the author

Juanjo Zabala

Operational Director of the Claror Marítim

Degree in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences (UI1). Diploma in Teaching in Physical Education (URLL). Master's Degree in Economic Management of Sports Centers (UB).

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