More proof that you should Just Say No to Cardio

health fitness exercise healthhabits workout
  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

If this sounds like you, you need to stop doing boring old cardio workouts…

human hamster wheel

…and start combining strength training workouts with high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.

Here’s why…

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers examined whether a combination of sprint interval workouts and strength training workouts would result in compromised strength development when compared to strength training alone.

During this study, they also monitored maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and time to exhaustion (TTE) to determine if the HIIT workouts would improve aerobic performance.

The Results

After 12 weeks of 4x per week workouts, they researchers found that:

  • Upper & lower body strength improved in both groups with no difference between the strength training (ST) group and the combination HIIT-ST group.
  • VO2max improved in the HIIT-ST group but not in the ST group. Previous studies have shown that HIIT is equal or superior to traditional cardio in improving VO2max


  • Strength training without HIIT will make you stronger
  • Strength training + HIIT will make you equally as strong
  • HIIT improves VO2max as well or better than traditional cardio training

When you combine this new data with all of the previous studies + years of real-world experience that has shown that traditional cardio training reduces strength, power & muscle mass in favour of aerobic performance (VO2max et al), it all starts to become very clear.

It means that if…

  • You want to be healthy
  • You want to be fit
  • You want to be strong
  • You want to be fast
  • You want to be powerful
  • You want to look great naked

…you need to just say no to cardio and just start saying yes to HIIT + strength training.


Health Habits “How-To” Exercise Videos – Squats

bodyweight squat

As I promised yesterday, today’s post is the second installment of “how-to” exercise videos. Yesterday’s push-ups and today’s squats are going to be combined with a third “mystery” exercise to create a thoroughly unpleasant (and very, very effective) High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout video that I will post on Wednesday. bodyweight squat And as the exercise video library grows, I will create full-length (20 minute) High Intensity Resistance Training exercise videos. These videos will be posted on Thursdays…and will include instructions on how to add mobility, flexibility, HIIT and/or cardio training to the resistance training workout video to look after all your exercise needs. Alright, enough yakity yak…let’s get to the exercise videos

HealthHabits “How-To” Exercise Videos #2 – Squats

Bodyweight Squats

Goblet Squats

Overhead Squats

Tomorrow, I combine these exercises + one more “mystery” exercise into an awesome High Intensity Resistance Training circuit workout. Get ready to sweat.

suck it up buttercup

NOTE – As this is my first attempt at doing workout – exercise videos, I would really, really appreciate your feedback on the quality / usability of these videos. My goal is to make them useful for people who workout at home (video on their tv sets or laptop) & at the gym (video on smartphone or tablet). 

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

fatdavid obesity health healthhabits

Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

It seems like I hear some version of this question each and every day. Just this past weekend, it was posed to me by Angela.

  • Angela is a forty-something year old woman, with two kids and an executive position at an insurance company.
  • Angela is 5’6″ and weighs approximately 170 lbs.
  • Angela doesn’t want to weigh approximately 170 lbs.

Maybe, some of you can sympathize with her story.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Angela’s Story

All the way through high school, Angela was an average, healthy weight. Not thin; healthy. She participated in gym class and enjoyed playing tennis. In university, she fell victim to the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. By the time she graduated, it was more like 20 lbs.

After graduation, she lost most of that weight by exercising at a health club and watching what she ate.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Next came the babies…

After the birth of her two children, Angela found herself reunited with that extra 20 lbs. Throwing herself back into that same exercise and nutrition program, Angela managed to lose most of that 20 lbs….And then gain it all back….and then lose most of it again…..and then gain it all back plus a little bit extra.

This takes us back to the present day.

  • Angela has 35 lbs. of excess fat that she wants to be rid of.
  • And she feels completely lost.
  • She has read every diet book.
  • She has exercised like an Olympic athlete.
  • She has cleansed.
  • She has popped dietary supplements.
  • She has joined and quit three different diet programs.

Nothing works anymore. So she asks me, “Why can’t I lose weight”?

So Why Can’t She Lose Weight?

The truth is; when it comes to burning off excess body-fat, Angela has no idea what she is doing. But it’s not her fault.

  • The multi-billion dollar diet industry sets people up for failure. If every dieter was successful, who would buy the next best selling diet book? Who would buy the pills or the bars or the shakes or the… Well, you get the point.
  • The diet industry promises you easy weight loss. But when you fail, it is always due to your lack of will-power. So why don’t the diet gurus help you generate that will power?

Why don’t they give you a complete weight loss program involving:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise, and
  • Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Strategies

Starting on the next page, I will attempt to do that

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More Proof – HIIT Better than Cardio


I-LOVE-HIITRepeat after me…

  • HIIT is Better than Cardio…
  • HIIT is Better than Cardio…
  • HIIT is Better than Cardio….
  • HIIT is Better than Cardio….
  • HIIT is Better than Cardio…

Personally, I love HIIT because…

  1. it works really, really well to help my clients get fit really, really fast,
  2. it helps my clients drop excess body-fat really, really fast
  3. and because it is really simple to program HIIT workouts and it fits into the busiest of schedules really, really well.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees HIIT like I do. 

There is a large group of trainers and fitness “experts” who…

  • think that low intensity cardio is superior to HIIT for developing aerobic fitness, and
  • fear that the High Intensity aspect of HIIT is dangerous to the health of their clients.

Their concern is that people with less than perfect cardiac function are at imminent risk of suffering a heart attack if their trainer puts them on a HIIT protocol. Which makes sense….if you haven’t read a medical journal in the past few years and still believe that low intensity cardio is the only safe way to improve cardiac function..

However, if you’re like me and don’t want to wait for our mainstream health & fitness to catch up with modern science, I invite you to…

1. Take a look at some of my articles about HIIT and Cardiac Function

2.  Take a look at the latest research investigating HIIT and building a healthy heart

In a study just published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers tested the effectiveness of HIIT workouts to improve the VO2max/VO2peak of 112 patients with coronary heart disease.

NoteVO2max/VO2peak is considered to be the gold standard for aerobic fitness, and aerobic fitness is believed to be the best indicator of cardiovascular health and a well-established predictor of total and cardiovascular mortality in subjects with and without coronary heart disease.

This means that exercise protocols which drastically improve VO2max/VO2peak are to be seen as powerful tools to help the medical (and fitness) communities prevent coronary heart disease and extend life.

In this study, the participants were divided into three groups based upon exercise intensity – as determined by percentage of HRmax.

  • <88%,
  • 88–92%, and
  • >92% of HRmax

The goal of the study was to determine if higher relative intensity during exercise intervals would elicit a greater
increase in VO2peak…leading to greater & faster improvements in aerobic fitness and in theory improve cardiac related mortality rates.

Here’s what happened

  • No adverse effects occurred during training
  • Overall, VO2peak increased by 11.9 % after 23.4 exercise sessions
  • Higher intensity exercise groups showed the greatest increase in VO2peak
  • 3.1 mL for the <88% group
  • 3.6 mL for the 88–92% group, and
  • 5.2 mL,for the >92% of HRmax group

hiit heart function

These findings build upon previous research which shows that the beneficial cardiovascular effects of aerobic exercise are intensity dependent, with higher intensity exercise showing a superior effect…leading the study authors to conclude that  “CHD patients who are able to perform high intensity training should aim at increasing exercise intensity above 92% of HRmax and thereby possibly achieve even greater improvements in aerobic capacity”.

What does this mean for you?

  • If you’re a CHD patient, you need to talk to your cardiologist about HIIT training…keeping in mind of course that CHD patients need to keep a close eye on how everything they do – exercise, nutrition, lifestyle, stress, etc – can impact the function of their CV system.
  • If you’re not a CHD patient, it means that if you want to improve your aerobic fitness and avoid dropping dead of a heart attack, you NEED to start doing some form of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training.
  • And if you’re a doctor or fitness expert who still believes that low intensity cardio is the best way to improve aerobic function, you need to put down your preconceptions and pick up a scientific journal every now and then.


  • Moholdt T, et al. The higher the better? Interval training intensity in coronary heart disease. J Sci Med Sport
  • Rognmo O, Moholdt T, Bakken H et al. Cardiovascular risk of high- versus
    moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in coronary heart disease patients. Circulation 2012; 126(12):1436–1440.
  • . Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2009; 301(19):2024–2035.

When it comes to HIIT – Quality trumps Quantity

the flash bw

Anyone familiar with Health Habits knows that I am a big fan of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training

I love HIIT is because…

  • HIIT makes you faster
  • HIIT saves time with short workouts
  • HIIT make you more powerful
  • HIIT burns calories for hours after you’ve finished your workout
  • HIIT is challenging
  • HIIT makes a workout more fun
  • HIIT improves your aerobic endurance
  • HIIT improves heart function
  • HIIT improves your aerobic endurance
  • HIIT helps heart disease patients regain their health
  • HIIT is appropriate for almost all trainees
  • HIIT makes you look like a total BADASS in the gym

Unfortunately, just as soon as HIIT left the fringes of exercise science and moved into the mainstream and your local YMCA, the central concept behind the success of HIIT came under attack.

HIIT works as well as it does because of intensity of effort. Not length of sprint…or length of training session…or number of sprints performed…or restricting rest periods…HIIT works because of a complete 100%, pit-bull chasing you down the street type of intensity.

Each HIIT sprint should feel FAST. When your sprints start to slow down, you need to…

  1. Increase rest period length, or
  2. Shorten sprint duration, or
  3. Reduce resistance, or
  4. All of the above

Remember – When it comes to HIIT – Quality trumps Quantity

the flash bw

Stop Heart Disease with HIIT?

  • HIIT workouts are great for fat loss
  • HIIT workouts save your time
  • HIIT workouts are way more fun than slogging away the miles on a treadmill
  • HIIT workouts make you fitter faster

But…they sometimes scare the crap out of newbies….who wonder if such high intensity workouts are going to cause their de-conditioned hearts to explode inside their chest cavities.

And since I am not a cutting-edge cardiologist, I find it best to check with the experts before shooting my mouth off about the awesomeness of HIIT.

Luckily for us, some of the big brains at the Montreal Heart Institute have just published another study extolling the virtues of HIIT workouts for the rehabilitation of their patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

In this study, they compared the circulatory (hemodynamic) respones to:

  1. a 8 min HIIT workout
  2. 22 minute moderate-intensity continuous exercise (aka cardio) style of workout

Their findings?

  1. The HIIT workout was well tolerated by the test subjects and produced no significant ventricular arrhythmias and (or) abnormal blood pressure responses
  2. Compared with the cardio workout, the HIIT workout produced a similar circulatory response (blood pressure, stroke volume, etc) to the cardio workout
  3. Both workouts also produced similar C(a-v)O2 responses. This is a measurement of how much oxygen is absorbed from the arteries into the rest of the body.

Their Conclusion

HIIT may be an efficient exercise training modality in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

What does this mean to you?

If the leading edge cardio researchers are looking at HIIT as an effective treatment for HEART DISEASE patients, then it might just be good for you too.


HIIT kicks even more ass


I love HIIT workouts.

  • Short duration
  • High intensity
  • Increased fat loss thanks to EPOC
  • Improved anaerobic endurance
  • Improved muscular power
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Honorary BADASS certification

And if that wasn’t enough, it also turns out that HIIT is good for your overall health.

Here’s the latest scientific proof.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow took 10 overweight/obese men and subjected them to three different fitness protocols:

  1. Sitting on their ass…aka the couch potato workout
  2. 4 x 30 second full-intensity sprints with 4.5 minute rest periods (HIIT workout)
  3. A single full-intensity sprint (ES – Extended Sprint workout) designed to be equal to the work done during the HIIT workout.

The day after doing these workouts, the participants…

  • had a fasting blood sample taken,
  • undertook an oral glucose tolerance test to determine insulin sensitivity index (ISI),
  • and had blood pressure measured.

Here’s what they found….

  • Total work performed did not differ between the HIIT & ES workouts
  • More power was generated during the HIIT workouts than during the ES workouts
  • Both the HIIT & ES workouts resulted in increased Insulin Sensitivity compared to the control group
  • The HIIT group saw a 63% increase in fat oxidation compared to the control group
  • The ES group saw a 38% increase in fat oxidation compared to the control group

And just in case you weren’t aware, increased insulin sensitivity & fat oxidation is exactly what our obese / diabetic society is in dire need of.

And this was after just one workout…imagine how much better things will look after 52 weeks of High Intensity workouts.