Exercise Focus: HIIT for PCOS - PCOS Diva

Exercise Focus: HIIT for PCOS



Guest Post by Gemma Magnusson

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is currently growing in popularity in the PCOS community, and so it should because it is fun, quick, easy and FREE!

HIIT is the queen of exercise when it comes to PCOS and ticks many boxes as to why we should better use our exercise time and start doing short bursts of HIIT training 3 or 4 times a week.

“Regular HIIT has been shown to significantly increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. HIIT also significantly lowers insulin resistance and results in a number of skeletal muscle adaptations that result in enhanced skeletal muscle fat oxidation and improved glucose tolerance.” (Boucher SH 2011)

HIIT is QUICK! Long gone are the days when going to the gym was a 3 hour process, we are now looking at full and intense workouts that can last from 12 – 35 minutes as a maximum! Taking away the excuse of, “I have no time to exercise!”

HIIT is EASY! One of my favourite things about HIIT is how easy it is to perform. You can go at your own pace and fitness level and because the “interval periods” do not last very long, you can custom the exercise to your desired intensity – even if you are a complete beginner. Knocking out the excuse of, “exercise is so difficult for me!”

HIIT is FUN! You can do it on your own or you can do it with friends, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you CAN do it! Driving away the excuse of, “exercise is so boring!”

HIIT is FREE! There are hundreds of different ways that you can perform HIIT. Most of them do not require a gym membership or expensive exercise equipment or clothing. Just use what you have access to i.e. your own bodyweight and a small area to move around! Blasting away the, “I can’t afford it”, excuse.

So, quick, easy, fun and FREE – I don’t know about you but this is right up my street!

 HIIT can increase your metabolic system! 
HIIT can increase your lean body muscle mass and DECREASE your body’s fat stores! HIIT can assist in accelerating weight loss! (Michael Bracko, Ed.D., FACSM)

Also, the weight you are losing with HIIT is pure BODY FAT and not your very important muscle mass! Infact with HIIT some research has shown that you continue to burn fat from 1.5 to 24 hours after your workout – this is called EPOC (excess post-oxygen consumption) and is highly beneficial to those trying to achieve hormonal balance.

Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome x, “a grouping of risk factors which commonly occur together and increase ones risk for cardiovascular disease.” There is substantial research to suggest that HIIT could be a viable method for the prevention of metabolic syndrome x . A study performed in 2008 by Boutcher SH et al. claimed that HIIT had a “significant reduction in total body fat, subcutaneous leg and trunk fat, and insulin resistance.” against women who performed SSE (steady state exercise) for over a period of 15 weeks.

In my own professional experience, I have had the best results with my PCOS clients when they have performed HIIT along with a resistance training program. Not only for fat loss, but also as a method of general hormonal control.

HIIT in whatever form you do it, uses short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by resting periods of medium intensity exercise.

An example of quick HIIT training:

Running HIIT:

Exercise time: 15 and a half minutes + stretching
1. Warm up – 5 minutes fast walking with easy stretching

  1. Jog for 60 seconds. Walk for 10 seconds. REPEAT 3 TIMES (3.5 minutes)
  2. Sprint/Run for 30 seconds. Jog for 10 seconds. REPEAT 3 TIMES (2 minutes)
  3. Cool down – 5 minutes fast walking with controlled stretching

Bicycling HIIT:

Exercise time:

  1. Warm up – 5 minutes easy bicycling
  2. Medium resistance 45 seconds. Easy resistance 10 seconds
  3. Hard resistance 30 seconds. Medium resistance 10 seconds
  4. Cool down – 5 minutes easy resistance and stretching

Bodyweight exercise HIIT:

Exercise time: 14 minutes + cool down stretching

  1. Skip or jog for 5 minutes to warm up
  2. Mountain Climbers – 45 seconds (http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/mountain-climbers)
  3. Bodyweight Squat – 45 seconds (http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/bodyweight-squat)
  4. Rest for 20 seconds and repeat 5 times
  5. Cool down with stretching

Do not attempt any form of exercise before getting the all clear from your doctor. HIIT is NOT for everyone especially those who have in the past suffered an injury. Your doctor will know your limits and will be able to advise you as to how you can exercise. Gemma Magnusson and www.pcosgym.com is not liable for any injuries occurred as result of reading this article. All exercises are performed at your own risk.

About Gemma Magnusson:

Gemma Magnusson is 4 times Britain’s Strongest Woman and 2 times World’s Strongest Woman Runner Up. Gemma is married to World Record Holder Benedikt Magnusson and together they have been labelled as the “World’s Strongest Couple.”

Gemma has worked in the fitness industry since 2004. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Performance Nutritionist with the International Sports Science Association.

Gemma Magnusson

Gemma was diagnosed with PCOS in 1999 when information surrounding the syndrome was very limited. Striving to control her syndrome, she started her journey to find the best methods
to keep her PCOS under control. Gemma was very fortunate and met with many doctors, research professors and highly educated individuals where she collected as much information as possible to then author PCOez: A Natural Fitness Solution. Gemma has also published a cookbook for Strength Athletes, The Gluten Free EZ lifestyle e-book and owns and runs a group personal training franchise in Iceland called Magnusson’s PowerBurn.

www.pcosgym.com was founded by Gemma to help women gain control over their syndrome using PCOS specific exercise with online personal training.

Gemma has 2 wonderful boys, both of whom she has named after her husband. Gemma took control over her PCOS and infertility using the methodology behind her PCOS Gym, and defied the odds when she became pregnant after 3 months of lifestyle focus in 2007 after being told she would have to go through IVF to have any chance of conception.


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  1. i am an international diver..i am diagnosed with pcos at the age of 20 and now i am 24.i used to gain weigh when i stopped my daily exercised but then sports has helped me to maintain my weight.i weigh 57kG.THANKS TO PCOS DIVA.