Research shows you can achieve more progress in 15-20 minutes of this type of interval training (done 2- 3 times per week) than the person jogging on the treadmill for an hour. And according to a 2011 study at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just two weeks of HIIT improves your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training. One of our favourite HIIT exercises is the Peak 8 workout, which can get you great fitness results in only 20 minute's time (done 2-3 times per week).
What is Peak 8?
Peak 8 is a type of HIIT that was introduced by Dr. Joseph Mercola in 2010. You have three different types of muscle fibers: slow, fast, and super fast. A marathon runner will mostly use the slow twitch muscle fibers, while Peak 8 exercises largely involve the fast twitch fibers. This has a very different effect on your body and health. Typically with a Peak 8 workout you will be able to lose more fat and gain more strength and muscle while only doing the exercise for 20 minutes 2-3 times per week.
Dr. Mercola suggests using a recumbent bike and doing Peak 8 exercises, but we find that those bikes put your hips lower than your knees which pushes your body forward, which is not ideal. We recommend that you use a cross trainer, rower, treadmill or simply an upright exercise bike. If you are in great physical shape you can also sprint outside, although this is more of an advanced technique and injuries are more common.
Benefits of Peak 8
Besides the obvious benefit of very quick workouts, Peak 8 exercises effectively and naturally increase your human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is largely correlated to how healthy and strong you are, and will help lower body fat and increase muscle tone.
Once you reach your 30′s, HGH levels start to decline. By using Peak 8 and using your fast twitch fibers you will cause a big production of HGH following a workout.
The Peak 8 workout
You don’t technically need any equipment, although personally we like to use the cross trainer.
1. First you warm up for 3 to 5 minutes
2. Then go all out and hard as you can for 30 seconds
3. Recover for 90 seconds (go slow)
4. Repeat 7 more times, for a total of 8 repetitions.
5. Cool down for at least 3 minutes, and you're done
Now depending on your fitness level, start out with less than 8 reps. This is a very intense exercise, so don’t push too hard in the beginning — work your way up slowly. If you have heart disease or other health concerns please get cleared by your doctor.
If you suffer from back, hip or knee pain, you may want to wait until you've had some chiropractic treatments in order to correct your structural problem.
Getting the most out of your Peak 8 workout
- Invest in a heart rate monitor. We strongly suggest you buy a heart rate monitor so you can accurately measure your progress. The goal is to increase your heart rate each rep so that when you hit the 8th rep, you’re near your maximum heart rate. This is when the magic happens and the incredible health benefits kick in. Your max heart rate is roughly calculated as 220 minus your age, although everyone’s is slightly different. So for example, if you are 40 years old, your max heart rate will be roughly 220 – 40 = 180 beats per minute.
- Avoid starch and sugar. To maximise the release of HGH you should not eat any sugar for two hours following a Peak 8 workout. This includes fruit, juice, or any type of grains such as bread, pasta, rice, cereals etc.. If you do, then you are limiting the production of HGH. Instead eat a high protein meal, or drink a high grade whey protein powder after your workout.
- Get a good night's sleep. To maximise your growth hormone release you need to get plenty of rest. If done properly, Peak 8 exercises are very intense and therefore only need to be done 2-3 times per week. A good night's sleep is crucial to improving your results!
- Have a comprehensive exercise plan. Don’t forget that to really maximise your health you need to also be doing strength training and some type of core strengthening and stretching as well. Our favourite type of stretches are active isolated stretching (AIS) developed by Aaron Mattes. This type of stretching is a great way to get flexibility back into your system and its completely different from the traditional types of static stretches.