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Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

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-HIITAs a personal trainer with 25 yrs of experience AND as a certified fitness junkie, 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.

Reference

  • Moholdt T, et al. The higher the better? Interval training intensity in coronary heart disease. J Sci Med Sport
    (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2013.07.007
  • 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.

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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.

Reference

HIIT is Good for Your Heart

For decades, doctors have been telling their obese & out-of-shape patients that they need to do long, slow & boring cardio workouts if they want to lose weight and get healthy.

Luckily, science is finally catching up to the awesome health-improving aspects of HIIT workouts.

In a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers concluded that a 6 week program of both moderate (10 s work : 20 s rest) and heavy (30 s work : 60 s rest) intensity interval training…

  • Reduced Carotid Arterial Stiffness in both groups
  • Improved Heart Rate Dynamics in both groups
  • Improved VO2 Max in the HEDIT group only
  • Improved Lactate Threshold in both groups

 

hiit-stats

Conclusions

  1. HIIT workouts are good for your heart
  2. This study is only scratching the surface of HIIT research. Besides the limitations of such a small study, the conclusions probably raise more questions than they answer – but since that’s the nature of good science, I am cool with that.
  3. The researchers believe that the HEDIT group (30 s work : 60 s rest) saw improvements due to “mitochondrial biogenesis while the MEDIT (10 s work : 20 s rest) duty cycle induced a vascular stimulus, but had little impact on mitochondrial proliferation”.

Reference

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HIIT Challenge Workout

Try this HIIT workout tonight at the gym.

  • Hop up onto a stationary exercise bike – standard, recumbant or spin bike.
  • Set the bike to a challenging resistance level
  • Perform one 10-second sprint as fast as possible
  • Count the number of  revolutions your right foot performs
  • Remember the number of revs (let’s say you did 28 revs in 10 seconds)

Now for the fun stuff.

  • I want you to give me five 10-second sprints with a minimum of 27 revs .
  • 26 revs doesn’t count
  • 25 revs doesn’t count
  • Only 27 and above

If you’re lucky, you will hit 27 or above on your first 5 sprints.

If you’re unlucky, it might take 10 or more sprints to get all 5 – 27 rev sprints

But, I doubt it…You’ll be surprised how hard you can push yourself in order to get those 27 revs.

Note – Shorter rest periods are going to make this even more difficult. As such, I recommend starting with a 10 sec sprint : 50 sec rest protocol the first time you try this workout.

Is High Intensity Exercise the Fountain of Youth?

In a study presented today at European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers have made a bold claim.

If you want to live a nice long healthy life, the intensity of your workout is more important than the duration.

During their research, they found that men who cycled with fast intensity survived 5.3 years longer than slow cyclists. Average intensity male cyclists survived 2.9 years longer than the slow cyclists.

For women, the averages dropped to 3.9 years for fast cyclists and 2.2 for average speed cyclists.

For both sexes, these numbers were even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.

According to Dr. Peter Schnor, “this study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigorous, based on the individuals own perception of intensity”. And it’s not just cycling. Dr. Schnor has published similar results for all-cause mortality in relation to walking.

So there you go….another great reason to cut back on mindless treadmill workouts and embrace my  HIIT and HIRT workouts.

Reference

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The Best HIIT Workout Of ALL Time

HIIT workouts are all about intensity. The goal is to generate huge amounts of power & speed in a relatively short period of time…over and over again with the smallest possible rest periods.

  • If the resistance is too high, you don’t get the speed.
  • If the resistance is too low, you don’t get the power
  • If the rest periods are too short, you don’t get the power or speed or volume and you’ll probably puke.
  • If the rest periods are too long, you’ll get power & speed but you’ll never develop any anaerobic endurance.

Honestly, designing a really good HIIT workout is more art than science.

And my client Zoe is turning into one heck of a HIIT workout artist. Last week, she tells me that she modified one of my take-home workouts and created her own HIIT workout. And while a lesser trainer would have been insulted and thrown a hissy fit…I was intrigued. So, we programmed the Gymboss interval timer and Zoe showed me her HIIT workout. Enjoy.

  • Sprint full out for 10 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds
  • Sprint full out for 10 seconds
  • Rest 20 seconds
  • Sprint full out for 10 seconds
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Sprint full out for 10 seconds
  • Rest 40 seconds
  • Sprint full out for 10 seconds
  • Rest 50 seconds
  • Sprint full out for 10 seconds
  • Done
For a grand total of 6 sprints in 210 seconds or 3 1/2 minutes
,
I LOVE IT!!!
.
The pyramid effect of the rest periods allowed Zoe to:
  1. Maximize the volume of HIIT work performed – she did this HIIT workout 3x as part of a very challenging HIRT workout
  2. Keep her resistance level high
  3. Keep her speed level high
  4. Recover sufficently during the HIIT session
  5. Recover completely very quickly post workout
It’s a great HIIT workout.
.
And as Zoe’s athletic ability improves, we can increase the intensity of this workout by throwing in an extra 10:10 ratio HIIT sprint….or perform 2 sessions back to back….or make it part of an endurance cardio workout….
.
The options are endless.

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health fitness exercise healthhabits

HIIT is better than Cardio for your Heart

Let’s say you’ve got high blood pressure…and stiffness in your arteries.

Whatcha gonna do?

Well….if you’re like most people, you just found out about your problem from your doctor. And you’re about to get a prescription for a bunch of drugs and a recommendation to hop onto the nearest treadmill and do lots and lots of low intensity / long duration cardio-vascular exercise.

But, what if your doctor is wrong?

  • What if…instead of spending hours glued to the seat of an exercise bike, you could be doing 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week.
  • And what if…by doing those 2 x 40 minute interval training sessions per week, you were lowering your BP just as well as your cardio cousins.
  • And what if you were improving your arterial stiffness even better than those cardio junkies.

According to this study, that’s exactly what you would be doing.

healthy-heart

 

Common Sense Conclusion(s)

  • If you have hypertension & arterial stiffness, talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program. It just makes sense.
  • Tell your doc about this research.
  • Find out how good/bad your heart really is.
  • And maybe consider doing both types of workouts.

And do some more reading – high blood pressure is no joke.

 

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Health Habits Workout – Week 27/Day 1

Goals: New workout coming at you.

For the next 3 weeks, we’re doing a HIIT/HIRT/Tabata style workout.

In Week 1, we’re going to use a 20 sec. work : 20 sec. rest ratio during our supersets

In Week 2, the ratio shifts to 20 sec. work : 15 sec. rest

In Week 3, we go to the full-on Tabata ratio of 20 sec. work : 10 sec. rest

During these workouts, I want you to balance the amount weight you use with number of  reps per set .

  • If you normally like to push heavy weight…I want you to cut back and focus on the number of reps per set
  • If you normally go lighter but like to do high rep sets..then I want you to up the weight and drop the reps

The success of this program depends on you being willing to break out of your comfort zone.
And after these 3 weeks, we’re going to back off for a week with some bridge workouts….and then dive back into another 3 week cycle focusing on different exercises.

.

WORKOUT WARM-UP

Feel free to mix things up during the warm-up. The goal is to warm up your muscles and to get your joints lubricated. I like the following warm-up exercises, but if you’re getting sick of them..do your own thing…as long as it gets the job done.

Circles – Starting with the ankles and moving all the way up to your neck, gently make circles with all of your joints – 10 revolutions each joint in each direction

Dead Bug – Push your lower back into the floor and articulate your arms & legs as in the video. 1 set of as many reps as possible with your lower back pushed into the floor. When your back starts to arch…STOP

1 Arm Swing Snatch – 25 reps per arm  – Dumbbell or kettlebell – choose a light weight – the goal is to warm-up

.

THE WORKOUT

Exercise #1

Bodyweight Squat

  • Squat for 20 seconds
  • Rest (standing) for 20 seconds
  • 6 sets of squats
  • 4 minutes total
  • Perform as many reps as possible per set
  • Resistance can be added by holding a dumbbell/plate at chest height

No rest between work sets

Do this instead…..

  • Using a resistance band or cable station, face away from the band/cable station holding the band/handle overhead.
  • If arms overhead is too tough on your shoulders, rest your hands on your head.
  • With a “slight” forward lean, walk (gradually) forward until the resistance starts to pull you backwards or you start bending at the spine.
  • This exercise mimics a bridge/plank exercise, except instead of being in a horizontal position, you are vertical
  • To make it tougher, stand on one foot.

I will film a video for this exercise later this week. Until then, hopefully this image I created will give you a clearer idea of what I want.

Hold for 1 minute or until you catch your breath and are ready to start the next work set.

Exercise #2

See Saw Press

  • Press the DBs/KBs for 20 seconds
  • Rest (arms at side) for 20 seconds
  • 6 sets of see saw presses
  • 4 minutes total
  • Perform as many reps as possible per set

Back to the standing cable/band bridge/plank thingie for a minute

Exercise #3

Standing Cable Row

  • Row for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 20 seconds
  • 6 sets of standing cable rows
  • 4 minutes total
  • Perform as many reps as possible per set

Back to the standing cable/band bridge/plank thingie for another minute

This time – face sideways to the cable stack with your arm straight out to the side at shoulder height – stand on the leg closest to the stack – this will be tough

Exercise #4

1 Leg Deadlift

  • Deadlift on 1 leg for 20 seconds
  • Rest (standing) for 20 seconds
  • Repeat on other leg – alternate back and forth
  • 6 sets of 1 Leg DLs
  • 4 minutes total
  • Perform as many reps as possible per set
  • Hold DBs for resistance

Back to the standing cable/band bridge/plank thingie for another minute

This time – sideways again (but face the opposite direction – 180 degree turn) to the cable stack with your arm straight out to the side at shoulder height – stand on the leg closest to the stack – this will be tough

At this point, you have done 16 minutes of HIIT/HIRT/Tabata work. This is the minimum amount of work for the day. However, depending upon your fitness level, I want you to try and complete all 4 exercises again – that would be 32 min of HIIT/HIRT/Tabata + the standing cable bridge exercise.

After that, you’re done for the day.

Stretch and go home

Tomorrow, it’s some easy cardio & stretching (lots of stretching)

Wednesday, it’s back to the weights

Live longer and better with HIIT

According to this study, 6 weeks of HIIT (high intensity interval training), will make you live longer.

Previous research indicates that your SIRT1 proteins help keep you healthy & live longer by fixing errors in your DNA – cancer, UV light, free radicals, etc. With that being the case, it’s a good thing to have lots of healthy, active SIRT1 running all over your body fixing any DNA errors.

Our current methods of increasing SIRT1 activity include calorie restriction and the supplement Resveratrol.

In this most recent study, researchers put some test subjects through a HIIT workout consisting of 40 min (10 x 4 min intervals @ 90% peak oxygen consumption) of bike sprints interspersed with 2 min rest periods.

They found that:

  1. 4 days after training, there was a 28 to 36% increase in mitochondrial enzyme activity in your muscle.
  2. Total muscle SIRT1 activity increased by 31%
  3. Activity per SIRT1 protein increased by 58%, despite
  4. the quantity of SIRT1 decreasing by 20%

And what does all of that mean?

The increased mitochondrial enzyme activity results in improved aerobic & anaerobic endurance and reverses muscle atrophy caused by inactivity or natural aging. That’s good.

Jack Lalanne at 71

The increased SIRT1 means that damaged DNA is repaired before it can accumulate and cause genetic problems.

Because, if we believe that the DNA damage theory of aging is correct, when we prevent the accumulation of damaged DNA, we prolong our good health and extend our life span.

Conclusion

  • HIIT increases SIRT1 activity
  • SIRT1 activity prevents genetic errors
  • Genetic errors are responsible for aging
  • Aging is responsible for death (duh)
  • Therefore, HIIT will help you live longer & better

Now, here are a bunch of HIIT articles. Pick a workout and get to work. And if you want to make your intervals more efficient (and help me earn $5 in the process), pick up a Gymboss interval timer.

HIIT will make you Stronger, Faster, Leaner

HIIT will make you stronger, faster and leaner…..One of the ways it does that is by improving your lactate threshold (LT).

What is Lactate Threshold?

Lactate threshold is the level of exercise intensity where lactic acid builds up in your bloodstream and you begin to feel that lactic acid burn. In the world of athletic science, LT is usually expressed as a percentage of VO2 max.

What is VO2 Max?

VO2 max is defined as “the highest rate of oxygen consumption attainable during maximal or exhaustive exercise”

Essentially, it is a measurement of how much oxygen you can get into your muscles during exercise, and is widely accepted as the single best measure of cardiovascular fitness and maximal aerobic power.

The Magic of HIIT

So how does LT & VO2 Max make me stronger, faster, leaner?

  • If you can delay the build up of lactic acid in your blood, you can trainer longer, faster, harder.
  • If you can train longer, faster, harder, you will become stronger, faster leaner.

And how do we delay the lactic acid burn, increase our LT and maximize our VO2 max?

Well, according to this study, high intensity interval training significantly increases LT and VO2 max.

The Study

Researchers took 20 physically active individuals and put them through one of two separate 6 week training programs.

  1. Group 1 performed 1 interval training workout per week
  2. Group 2 performed 2 interval training workouts per week

After 6 weeks,

  1. Group 1 improved their LT by 4.3%
  2. Group 2 improved thei LT by 8.2%

Conclusion

Not only is interval training (HIIT) a successful strategy for improving LT and VO2 max, there is a dose-response relationship between frequency of interval training and the magnitude of LT improvement.

In other words,

  • if you increase your HIIT, you increase your LT
  • if you increase your LT, you increase your VO2 max
  • if you increase your LT & VO2 max, you get stronger & faster & leaner….

And who wouldn’t want to get stronger, faster & leaner?

HIIT Kicks Cardio's Butt

ben johnson crushes carl lewis
I like to visualize Ben Johnson crushing Carl Lewis when I do my HIIT sprints

So, there I was.

I had just finished a set of killer HIIT sprints….when the Lance Armstrong clone to my left asked me “what’s the deal with that workout”?

I think I croaked something about anaerobic this and EPOC that…and was about to hop off the bike when he said…

“that’s just a fad..like Atkins. If you want to get fit, you HAVE to do cardio”

Arrrgggghhhh!

Stifling my hulk-like rage, I asked…

HIIT hulk

“What do you mean I have to do cardio?”

From there, he proceeded to tell me why cardio rocks and why high intensity training (HIIT, HIRT, resistance training) sucks.

Double arggghhhhh!

Hulk (me) was getting mad.

But, instead of smashing, I flipped him one of my business cards (along with a certain finger) and suggested he read the following study which shows (once again) how HIIT kicks cardio butt

And here’s the study.

According to the researchers, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is better than traditional endurance training for improving:

  • Athletic performance
  • Metabolic performance
  • Molecular adaptation to exercise

According to researcher Martin Gibala…”doing as little as 10 one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between, three times a week, works as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously.”

We have known for years that repeated moderate long-term exercise tunes up fuel and oxygen delivery to muscles and aids the removal of waste products. Exercise also improves the way muscles use the oxygen to burn the fuel in mitochondria, the microscopic power station of cells.

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Running or cycling for hours a week widens the network of vessels supplying muscle cells and also boosts the numbers of mitochondria in them so that a person can carry out activities of daily living more effectively and without strain, and crucially with less risk of a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

.

But the traditional approach to exercise is time consuming. Martin Gibala and his team have shown that the same results can be obtained in far less time with brief spurts of higher-intensity exercise.

Take that Mr. Lance Armstrong clone.

But wait, it get’s better.

One of the main complaints about High Intensity Interval Training is that it’s…well, too intense.

Sure, it gives you a great workout, but it will probably give you a heart attack.

Not according to Dr. Gibala.

The main purpose of his study was to prove the performance, metabolic and molecular advantages of a more practical model of low-volume HIIT.

The new study used a standard stationary bicycle and a workload which was still above most people’s comfort zone (about 95% of maximal heart rate) but only about half of what can be achieved when people sprint at an all-out pace.

  • Seven men performed 6 HIIT training sessions over 2 weeks.
  • Each session consisted of 8-12 x 60 s intervals (at ≈100% of peak power) separated by 75 s of rest.
  • That’s a total of between 17 and 26 minutes per workout or 2 ½ hours over 2 weeks

So, how does this workout compare to traditional cardio?

According to the doc, to achieve the same performance, metabolic and molecular benefits with traditional endurance (cardio) training, you’d need to complete over 10 hours of continuous moderate bicycling exercise over a two-week period.

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Hmmmmm…let’s recap.

HIIT

  • 2 ½ hours per week

Cardio

  • 10 hours per week

And I won’t even mention the fact that HIIT workouts make you look like this:

fit man woman posterize

while cardio workouts make you look like this…

skinny man woman runner cardio

your choice.

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HIIT Harder with Creatine

This article is for all of those people who have already discovered the joys of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

According to this latest bit of research, supplementing with Creatine results in:

  • Improved workout performance during HIIT
  • Higher glycogen load found in fast twitch muscles (18% increase)
  • No difference in slow twitch muscles
  • Lower blood lactate levels

Conclusion

For improved HIIT performance, supplement with creatine.

In fact, if you perform any sport/activity that requires intermittent bursts of high intensity effort (hockey, fighting, track & field, etc), creatine should be part of your supplement regimen.

However, if your sport/activity relies on slow twitch fibers and aerobic endurance, creatine may not be for you.

Recommendation

There are a lot of supplement companies selling different types of creatine supplements.

In my experience, AllMax produces one of the better versions. Quality results with no side effect bloating.

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Waves and Waves of HIIT

This workout is dedicated to the “skinny-fat” cardio guy at my gym…you know who you are.

It’s a simple HIIT workout that is guaranteed to have you sweating buckets and burning mega calories.

THE WORKOUT

Cardio equipment of your choice (I recommend an exercise bike, but an elliptical or Versa Climber are acceptable alternatives)

  • 10 min steady state cardio at 60% of maximum perceived intensity
  • 10 min of alternating duration (Wave) sprints
  • Sprint #1: 10 sec sprint / 50 sec rest
  • Sprint #2: 15 sec sprint / 45 sec rest
  • Sprint #3: 20 sec sprint / 40 sec rest
  • Repeat for 10 sprints
  • 5 min steady state cardio at 60% of max intensity

Beginners are now finished….go home and rest

However, if you think you can handle some more HIIT, please feel free to do another:

  • 10 min of alternating duration sprints – same as above
  • 5 min steady state cardio at 60% of max intensity

And now, go home…seriously.

Note: HIIT sprints are designed to be performed at maximum intensity for maximum benefit. If your intensity starts to drop below 90% of your best effort, shut it down and call it a day. Intensity is key. It’s better to do 5 sprints at 100% intensity than 10 sprints at 75%

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High Intensity meets High Tech

It’s no secret – I love High Intensity Interval Training.

  • I love that it’s great for melting body-fat
  • I love that it’s great for improving aerobic fitness
  • I love that it’s great for improving anaerobic fitness
  • And I love the fact that I get all of these benefits without having to spend hours on a treadmill like some kind of human/gerbil hybrid.

do-your-tabatas

BUT, one thing I don’t like about HIIT/Tabata Training is that intensity is highly subjective.

When I tell a client that I want 100% on a set of interval sprints, how can I know that they are giving 100% effort.

How do we measure intensity?

Well, up until now, here’s what I have been doing (I will use HIIT bike sprints as an example)

  • After an adequate warm-up, I set the exercise bike at the appropriate level of resistance.
  • Then we start banging out 10 second sprints going as fast as possible
  • I help things along by “encouraging” my client to go faster.
  • I also ask the client to track the number of revolution one leg makes during the 10 second sprint.
  • For example, a new client recently tested out at 25, 27, 28, 28, 29, 27 and 24 revolutions per leg per 10 seconds. (bike resistance set at level 7 of 10)
  • This means that their maximum speed at resistance level 7 was 29 revs per leg per 10 sec.
  • This is also the number we now use to judge performance.

If they pedal slower than 29 rev @ level 7, then they are either fatiguing, not working hard enough or just having a bad day.

It’s not very high tech, but it has worked pretty well…up until now.

Now, I want to get my hands on some of this technology.

These new pieces of technology (Pulse Oximeters, portable ECGs and Activity Monitors) are being used right now by elite level athletes and in research settings to determine how to make exercise more efficient.

And when you consider that every IPhone and Google Android phone comes equipped with a built-in accelerometer, a proximity sensor and is bluetooth ready, it is highly likely that in the very near future, you are going to be able to ramp up the efficiency of your workouts by at least 25%.

And where did I get that 25%, you might ask?

And the answer is…from this study.

Without going into all of the highly technical details, researchers used some of the technology mentioned above to collect performance data while putting their test subjects through a modified Tabata workout.

data setThen they took that data, combined it with the data collected via a medical survey questionnaire and plugged it into a data mining decision tree.

I told you it was technical.

The upshot is that after all of this data was crunched, the researchers were able to design optimized interval training programs personalized for each and every test subject.

And, as a result of those optimized programs, the test subjects were able to improve their performance by 29.54%

What do you think of that!!!

29.54%

I can’t wait to get my hands on some of this technology.

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Reference

HIIT Workout o' the day

HIIT Workout # 1…a four minute Tabata workout on the stationary bike

4 minutes of PAIN

  • 20 seconds as hard as possible
  • 10 seconds of rest
  • Repeat 7 more times

If you don’t feel like dyin’ then you didn’t go hard enough
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How Much Rest Between Sets?

marilyn monroe exercise weights

You design your own workouts.

You specify your reps and sets.

You modify your lifting tempo and your range of motion.

But, what about rest between sets?

  • Do you wait only long enough to catch your breath?
  • Or do you camp out underneath the squat rack having a nice long chat with your neighbor doing deadlifts?

Do you have any idea how long you should be resting between sets?

Well, according to the latest research, “the rest interval between sets is an important variable that affects both acute (short term) responses and chronic (long term) adaptations to resistance exercise programmes”.

The Study

Researchers reviewed 35 studies in which they examined both acute responses and chronic adaptations, with rest interval length as the experimental variable.

In terms of acute responses, a key finding was that when training with loads between 50% and 90% of one repetition maximum, 3-5 minutes’ rest between sets allowed for greater repetitions over multiple sets. Furthermore, in terms of chronic adaptations, resting 3-5 minutes between sets produced greater increases in absolute strength, due to higher intensities and volumes of training.

Training for Strength = 3-5 minutes rest between sets

Similarly, higher levels of muscular power were demonstrated over multiple sets with 3 or 5 minutes versus 1 minute of rest between sets.

Training for Power = 3-5 minutes rest between sets

When the training goal is muscular hypertrophy, the combination of moderate-intensity sets with short rest intervals of 30-60 seconds might be most effective due to greater acute levels of growth hormone during such workouts.

Training for Hypertrophy/Size = 30-60 seconds rest between sets

Finally, the research on rest interval length in relation to chronic muscular endurance adaptations is less clear. Training with short rest intervals (e.g. 20 seconds to 1 minute) resulted in higher repetition velocities during repeated submaximal muscle actions and also greater total torque during a high-intensity cycle test.

Both of these findings indirectly demonstrated the benefits of utilizing short rest intervals for gains in muscular endurance.

Training for Endurance = 20-60 seconds rest between sets

Conclusion

The rest interval between sets is a very important aspect of any resistance program…or at least it should be.

 

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The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

deadpool

Since building the Squidoo Lens about Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Workout, I have become a big Deadpool fan and am really looking forward to the movie. I think the studio made a great choice casting Ryan “Smart Ass” Reynolds in the role of Wade Wilson.

But, as I mentioned in the lens, Ryan is naturally a pretty skinny guy.

As a result, adding a whole lot of muscle mass was job #1 as he got ready to take on the role of Deadpool.

And he did a pretty good job.

Ryan-Reynolds

But we can do better.

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined the concepts behind my Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

In this post, I give you a mass building workout that will put Deadpool to shame.

And I have named it…

The Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

DeadPool muscle

Like I mentioned in the previous article, the key to the success of this mass building phase is the focus on your nervous system and fast-twitch muscle fibers.

The theory is that since most hardgainers are slow-twitch fiber dominant, and slow-twitch fibers aren’t built for hypertrophy, we need to do something special to wake up those dormant fast-twitch fibers and force them to grow.

And here’s how we’re going to do it:

  • Each workout will consist of a series of 2-exercise supersets
  • The first exercise in each superset is designed to wake up the fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • The second exercise in each superset is designed to take advantage of the newly awakened fast-twitch fibers

How to Wake Up your Fast-Twitch Fibers

I was exposed to this concept about 15 years ago. At that time, I was training for powerlifting and strongman events. But my bench press was stuck. So, here’s what I did.

I would perform a partial bench press in a power rack with as much weight as I could handle. After a few sets of single reps, I would crawl over to standard bench press and attempt a maximum lift.

This technique allowed my to put over 30 lbs on my maximum bench press…after just 2 workouts.

The Theory

My strength was improved due to some combination of fast-twitch muscle recruitment and improved neuro-muscular co-ordination.

Since then, I have researched this topic…without much success. At least in the English speaking world. Those Russians were way ahead of us back in the day.

Anyway, most of you probably don’t care very much about the theory, so let’s move on.

The Wake-Up Exercises

I use 3 different methods to wake up the fast twitch fibers

  1. Very Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions – that’s what I did with the partial rack bench press
  2. Very Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions – Plyometric movements
  3. Very Fast Concentric & Eccentric Muscular Contractions – think sprints or throwing movements

Okay, your fast-twitch fibers are awake…now what?

Now we take advantage of those FTs, by exposing them:

  1. Slightly Less Intense Concentric Muscular Contractions…through a full range of motion and performed as fast as possible. Think explosive bench presses.
  2. Slightly Less Intense Eccentric Muscular Contractions….but we drastically increase the time under tension. Sloooowwww negatives on those bench presses.
  3. With no pause at the top or bottom of the lift. The muscle is always under tension.

Reps, Sets & Bodyparts

Here’s where individual goals play a part.

Are you interested in athletic performance or just getting big and buff like Arnie?

  • My GPs were athletes, so I had them doing total body workouts. If they had been interested in appearance only, I would have had them do split body workouts (ie Back & Bis on Monday, Chest & Tris on Wed)

When it comes to rep selection, I had the GPs perform 3-8 reps on the Wake Up sets and 3-8 reps on the Work sets

For sets, I was much more fluid and looked at performance and time.

  • Max time for a workout was 45 min
  • But more important than time was speed. If I noticed a drop in the speed of movement, we shut everything down and hit the showers….not together. You get my point.

So, there you go. That’s the nuts and bolts of the Deadpool Mega Muscle Mass Workout

In the next installment, I will give you some examples of Wake-Up Exercises and show you how to pair them with the traditional lifts to get the best results.

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The Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

Ryan Reynolds Transformation

A few months ago, I created a Squidoo Lens about Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool Workout.

The lens was essentially an introduction to the workouts that Reynolds had to endure in order to transform his naturally thin (aka scrawny) frame into a muscular, ripped physique worthy of superhero status.

Since then, I have received a ton of emails from guys eager to build their own Deadpool bodies.

Ryan-Reynolds

The only problem was that I was underwhelmed by the original workout.

It was good, but it wasn’t great.

Sure, it would help you look like a superhero, but it wouldn’t help you perform like a superhero.

So, I re-invented the Deadpool workout and spent the summer beta testing it on some willing victims up here in Toronto.

And, if I say so myself, I have come up with a seriously kick-ass training program.

Over 3 months, my 4 scrawny test subjects:

  • Gained between 5 and 14 lbs of muscle
  • Increased their max strength between 55 & 197% (Front Squat)
  • Saw their speed, power & anaerobic endurance go through the roof (Hill Sprints)
  • And, oh yeah, they also lost a ton of baby-fat in the process.
  • The average body-fat percentage at the beginning of the test was 21%.
  • At the end of the 3 months, the average body-fat was down to 9% (a Bod-Pod was used to measure BF%)

Wolverine vs DeadpoolIn short, by the end of the summer, my little guinea pigs didn’t just look like superheroes.

They were superheroes.

So, without any further ado, I would like to present…

The Official “Make Ryan Reynolds your Beeyotch” Workout

(Because this workout is too detailed for one post, I am going to break it into chunks – today’s chunk will outline the theory behind my madness)

Like the original workout, my MRRYB workout had two distinct phases.

Phase 1 – Muscle Building

The key to the success of this phase was the focus on the nervous system and the development of fast twitch muscle fibers.

Using a combination of high speed movements and plyometric style loading, my GPs forced their fast twitch muscle fibers to engage during part 1 of their 2-part supersets.

(Here’s how I activated their fast-twitch muscle fibers)

Once I had the fast twitch fibers turned on, I moved them immediately to part-2 of the superset.

In part 2, the GPs were able to handle loads much heavier than normal because of the activation of their hard to activate fast twitch fibers.

Taking advantage of this situation, part 2 of the superset consisted of explosive concentric movements combined with slow eccentric movements. The GPs were not allowed to pause at either the top or bottom of the lift.

And yet, due to the activation of the fast twitch fibers, the GPs were able to lift more than ever before, add more muscle than ever before and yet experience only moderate muscle soreness.

Depending upon the exercise, the muscle group and the techniques used, reps for each part of the superset ranged from 3 to 8 reps.

Phase 2 – Getting Ripped

Phase 2 is all about melting the baby-fat off of the newly built muscle.

To do that, I introduced the GPs to some particularly nasty HIIT and HIRT workouts.

And while I expected fairly rapid fat loss, I did not expect what happened.

For some reason, in the first week, each of the GPs lost over  6 lbs of fat.

And this is after almost 2 months of very intense training and a strict diet. They had already lost fat during phase 1.

I can only speculate on the reason behind the very rapid fat loss, but to be honest, I don’t care. I am more than happy to leave the science to the scientists. All I know is that this workout hit one out of the park.

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In the next installment of this series, I will get into the nuts and bolts of the workout.

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You Don’t Know HIIT

Yesterday, Timbo (aka Dr. Timothy Miller) added a comment to one of my older HIIT posts – HIIT v.s. Type 2 Diabetes.

Since it was an older post, most of you wwill never see his comment. And that would be a shame, because Tim’s description of a real HIIT workout was fantastic:

I’ve been doing HIIT workouts about four times per week for three weeks now. I do it on the elliptical trainer at the gym. (The stationary bike tends to hurt my knee.) I can go harder on the stair master, because I’m using my upper body at the same time as my legs. I warm up for about five minutes at modest speed and resistance, then turn up the resistance really high and go AS HARD AS I CAN for 30 seconds, then go slow and easy for five to ten minutes, and repeat, until I have done four high-intensity intervals. I go slow and easy for about five minutes to cool down. 25 to 30 minutes total.

When I say I go “as hard as I can,” this is what I mean. On a Life Fitness model 9500 elliptical trainer, I’m at level 18 at 80 to 90 rpm. This is equivalent to a rate 2000 calories per hour.

I’m a type-2 diabetic, 60 years old. The last two times I checked, I started the workout with blood glucose of 140 to 150. After the workout, it was down to about 70. I’ve had to reduce my insulin dose.

I’m hoping I will reduce my insulin need, and maybe won’t need insulin at all. (I don’t use oral meds.) Time will tell. I believe none of what I hear and half of what I see.

All the ecstatic blog posts and articles forget to mention one thing: These workouts are exhausting! Very exhausting. After each interval, I feel like I might faint and fall off the machine. I remain winded for about five minutes after each one. I’m physically tired for at least an hour after I leave the gym. I was already fairly fit. I’ve been doing fairly regular cardio and strength exercises for years. Maybe I’ll get used to these workouts after awhile.

HIIT is all about the effort – Full out 100% total exhaustion effort.

So, the next time you do a HIIT workout, you NEED to ask yourself…Am I giving 100% effort?

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The Lazy Man’s Guide to Getting Ripped

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a potential client.

  1. He told me that he would love to get fit, but he just doesn’t have the time.
  2. He’s just too busy with work, kids, internet porn, etc…
  3. B.S.

He’s not busy…he’s lazy. And he’s not alone.

According to the WHO, there are 3.6 billion lazy guys sitting on couches all around the world.

And the trainer who can help those lazy buggers transform their lazy asses from….

FAT TO FIT

…is going to be rich. Filthy…Stinking…Rich

So, here we go. The lazy man’s guide to getting ripped….or as I like to call it – My ticket to becoming filthy, stinking rich.

(BTW, this story is based on a real client. We have been training for one week. He has already lost 5 lbs.)

DIET

Meal # 1 – Breakfast

  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • 3 medium sized Apple or Pears
  • 3 fried or hard boiled Eggs
  • Water or Tea
  • 5 grams of Leucine

Meal # 2 – Morning Coffee Break

My client works in an office. Each morning, he has a mandatory group meeting. Coffee & pastries are served.

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 3 – Lunch

Big Salad – consisting of

  • Salad Greens (pre-washed, pre-chopped)
  • 1 can of tuna or salmon, or 3 more hard boiled eggs, or leftover meat from last night’s dinner
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice or Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • Water

Before our hero goes to bed at night, he rips open the bag of greens and dumps it into the tupperware container. Same goes for the protein. In the morning he pours in the oil, lemon juice & salt and pepper. Come lunch time, he shakes the container and presto he has his Big Salad

Meal # 4 – Afternoon Snack

  • 1 Coffee (with cream)
  • 15 Almonds (brought to work in a little Ziploc baggie)
  • Water

Meal # 5 – Workout Nutrition

Meal # 6 – Dinner

  • Another Big Salad or steamed vegetables prepared with a microwave steaming bag
  • BBQ – steak or chicken or fish or pork or lamb or….
  • 5 grams of Leucine
  • 1 Tbsp of Fish Oil
  • Water

TRAINING

I have designed a training program specific to his needs, injuries, muscle imbalances, etc…

But the basic design of the program is:

  • 3x per week total body HIRT workouts
  • 2x per week HIIT/Cardio workouts on his stationary bike
  • 1 x per week active rest – long walks with his wife, soccer with the kids, etc…
  • Dynamic stretching at each workout designed to correct imbalances & prevent injuries

THE RESULTS

As I mentioned above, the client has lost 5 lbs in the first week. And while that certainly is good news, what really excites me is the fact that he has been perfect on his meal compliance.

He said that it was easy…EASY!!!

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The “I don’t have time to workout” Workout

No more excuses….You do have time to exercise…

  • If you only have 5 minutes to spare, do 1 of these workouts.
  • 10 minutes = 2 workouts
  • 15 minutes = 3 workouts….

…You don’t even have to go to the gym.

The Rules

  • Each workout lasts 5 minutes (the set/rep combinations are suggestions based upon my experience with clients)
  • If you get to 5 minutes before you get to the end of the workout…STOP. 5 minutes max means 5 minutes max.
  • Each workout involves 2 or 3 different exercises
  • Perform 1 set of exercise A, then move on to exercise B
  • No rest between sets – the workouts are designed to be performed with no rest
  • If your form gets sloppy…slow down. Catch your breath. Good form is more important that getting one extra rep. Injuries suck.

5 Minute Workout # 1

1.   Air Squats – bodyweight only – 5 sets of 30 reps

2.   Hindu Pushups – 5 sets of 15 reps

Try and complete all 10 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #2

1.   Dragon Flag 5 sets of 5-10 reps or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)


2.   Shuffle or Scissor Lunges – 5 sets of 40-60 reps (20-30 per leg) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 10 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #3

1.   Spiderman Lunge 5 sets of 12 reps (6 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

2.  Hip Thrust/Bridge – 5 sets of 40-60 reps (20-30 per leg) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 10 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #4

1.   Kettlebell Swing  5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per arm) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

2.  1 Arm Dumbbell Press – 5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

3. Siff Lunge – 5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 15 sets in 5 minutes

5 Minute Workout #5…my personal favorite

1.   Jumping Bulgarian Squat 5 sets of 20 reps (10 reps per leg) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

2.  Band Woodchops – 5 sets of 20 reps (10 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)


3. 1 Leg Stiff Leg Deadlift – 5 sets of 10 reps (5 reps per side) or 5 minutes (whichever comes first)

Try and complete all 15 sets in 5 minutes

Bonus Workout…if you have a partner

5 minutes of this…

BTW, Marv is another personal trainer from Toronto

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It HIRTs So Good

I just finished destroying two clients with this workout.

Enjoy….

Just another HealthHabits HIRT workout

pdf version

Exercise Videos

  • Ab Roll-Outs
  • Hindu Push-Ups

  • Bodyweight Squats (Arms Overhead) – ball not required

  • Inch Worms
  • Body-Weight Row
  • Standing Angled Woodchop (DB/Plate/Med Ball)
  • Push-Ups
  • Side Lunge
  • Shuffle Lunge
  • DB Bicep Curl & Overhead Press Combo

  • Shuffle Lunge
  • Standing Face Pull
  • Glute Ham Raise (on pulldown machine)
  • Bodyweight Skullcrushers
  • Combo Pullover / Crunch on Stability Ball (imagine the ball)
  • Seated Shoulder Press
  • Reverse Flyes (DB, Band)
  • DB Hammer Grip Bicep Curl

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Recipe for a Fat Man

Matt McClain - Rocky Mountain News
Matt McClain - Rocky Mountain News

Reading the comments from my last two posts (here and here), I was struck by the very strong, yet very different opinions about the cause(s) of obesity.

Some people believe in ye olde Calories in vs Calories Out theory, while others believe in the power of insulin while others blame their DNA.

So, I raise the question….Is there a one size fits all cause / cure for obesity?

Or are there a whole bunch of factors coming together to create America’s obesity epidemic?

To aid in the discussion, I have put together a list of the factors that I think influence human obesity.

Feel free to comment/criticize or add to the list

Determinants of Obesity

bigfatburger.

Food

  • Quantity of food – Calories
  • Quantity of food – Volume
  • Type and Quality of food – Macronutrients – Carbs, Fat, Protein
  • Type and Quality of food – MicronutrientsVitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, Phytochemicals, etc…
  • Type and Quality of food – Nutrient Density v.s Caloric Density
  • Your beliefs and emotions regarding food – food as pleasure, food as fuel
  • Dining habits – eat on the run vs sit down dinner

Your Body

Your Life

Physical Activity

As you can see, there are a lot of factors that influence obesity.

I didn’t even get into all of the bleeding edge obesity research.

The search for an obesity cure never ends. Just today, there were two new obesity discoveries (here and here). Tomorrow, there will probably be two more.

But for now, I think we have enough on our plate.

BTW, feel free to critique or add to the list.

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HIRT Workout….No Equipment…..No Problem

Not a lot of talk today folks.

Just a killer HIRT workout for those people who find themselves without any fitness equipment.

Superset # 1

1a. Speed Squats – 5 sets of 20 reps

1b. 1 Leg Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps per leg (moderate speed – feel the stretch)

Note – I prefer to do the negative/lowering portion of this exercise slower

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Superset # 2

2a. Body Weight Row – 5 sets of 8 reps (table, tree, swing set, railing, etc)

2b. Push-Ups – 5 sets of 5 reps

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Superset # 3

3a. Step Ups – 5 sets of 10 reps per side

Note – Use stairs or chair or bench to replace the bench

3b. Bodyweight SkullCrushers – 5 sets of 5 reps

Note – Use stairs or chair or bench instead of the gizmo used in the video

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Superset # 4

4a. Spiderman Lunge – 5 sets of 5 reps per side

4b. Hip Bridge – Dynamic – 5 sets of 20 reps

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The Rules

  • No rest between sets
  • 60 seconds rest between supersets
  • Workout lasts for 45 minutes. If (you finish all 4 supersets in less than 45 minutes…start over at superset #1
  • Mix up the order of the supersets from workout to workout.

Print (pdf) version

Are You Tough Enough for This Workout?

Are you tough enough to handle one of my custom HIIT/HIRT workouts?

And by handle the workout, I don’t mean just survive the workout. I mean, can you push yourself harder than you ever have before?

Can you kick my ass at this workout? Well, can you…punk?

The Workout

Part 1 – The HIIT.

30 minutes of HIIT sprints on a Stationary Bike

Note: These are short duration sprints – 10 sec. As such, they are to be performed at Maximum IntensityAnd when I say max intensity, I mean MAXIMUM INTENSITY.

      The 20 sec Active Rests should be performed at a 6-8 on the Borg Scale…very, very light effort.

Part 2 – The HIRT

This second part of the workout is a 10 Minute HIRT Circuit consisting of 3 exercises, performed back to back with no rest between sets. The goal is to complete as many reps as possible (AMRAP) in 10 minutes

Each set will consist of 5 reps performed in an explosive manner.We will be using bodyweight exercises.

  • Push-Up – 5 Reps per Set – As Many Sets As Possible in 10 minutes
  • Body-weight Row – 5 Reps per Set – As Many Sets As Possible in 10 minutes
  • Bulgarian Split Squat – 5 Reps per Set – As Many Sets As Possible in 10 minutes

For most, body-weight will be more than enough resistance. However, if you think you can handle it, feel free to add some resistance (weight vest, chains, bands, plates, dumbbells…your choice). But, I don’t want you sacrificing intensity & speed just to add some weight.

  • Remember, there is no rest between sets.
  • Perform all 3 exercises in the same spot.

I find that a Power Rack or Smith Machine works well for the Body-weight Rows. So, I just camp out there for the full 10 minutes using the bar (or a bench) for the Bulgarian Split Squats.

So, do you think you can kick my ass at this workout? Here’s how I did earlier today:

HIIT Sprints

      • All sprints completed as designed
      • Bike Resistance set at 80% of maximum
      • Fastest Revolutions per Leg in 10 seconds – 32 (3rd sprint)
      • Slowest Revolutions per Leg in 10 seconds – 24 (last sprint)

HIRT Workout

      • Push-Up – BW (248) + 20 lb Weight Vest for 100 reps
      • BW Row – BW (248) + 20 lb Weight Vest for 100 reps (Body held parallel to floor)
      • Bulgarian Split Squat – BW (248) + 20 lb Weight Vest + 25 lb plate for 105 reps per leg (Back leg on std. flat bench)

So, can you kick my ass?

PDF copy of the workout

13 Training Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Fitness training isn’t rocket science.

  • Good training & nutrition decisions produce good results.
  • Poor training & nutrition decisions produce poor results.

So, how come when I go to the gym this afternoon, I can pretty much guarantee that I am going to see a lot of intelligent, well-educated, gainfully employed people making some pretty stupid training decisions?

  • Maybe fitness training is rocket science?
  • Maybe I am some sort of fitness training genius.

albert-einstein

So, as a public service to all of the non-fitness-training genii out there, here is a list of some of the training mistakes I will probably see at the gym today.

Try and avoid them.

  1. Doing Cardio Training before Resistance Training
  2. Doing Static Stretching before Resistance Training
  3. adductor inner thighTraining Core before Legs
  4. Chugging a Gatorade while reading a book on the Exercise Bike
  5. Thinking that the Inner Thigh (Adductor) Machine is going to work some sort of magic.
  6. Ignoring your Weaknesses and over-training your Strengths
  7. Believing that Core Training is all about Crunches & Planks
  8. Training Body Parts instead of Body Movements
  9. Believing that you can Out-Train a Bad Diet
  10. Making chronic neck & shoulder pain worse by ignoring your postural muscles
  11. Thinking that Resistance Training will make you too big
  12. Thinking that Cardio training will make you too small
  13. Performing a one size fits all type of fitness program

And if you see yourself on the list and want to change your evil ways, feel free to comment.

I or one of your fellow readers would be glad to lend a hand.

Addendum

I just received an email from a quasi-famous strength coach/trainer to the stars telling me that I was an idiot for believing that cardio prior to resistance training is a bad idea.

Personally, I can’t believe that he took the time out of his day to tell me off via email (wouldn’t a comment have been quicker?) but I would like to thank him because it helped me come up with another fitness training mistake:

Dogma

Believing that one way of training is the 100% right and that all other methods are 100% wrong.

Whether it’s hardcore cardio junkies or Crosfitters or bodybuilders of Yoginis, being close minded to different training methods seems prety stupid to me.

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A Reader’s Experience with HIIT

Taz love HIIT
Taz love HIIT

Obviously, I love HIIT.

And as it turns out, I am not alone.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Matt explaining how his fitness had gone through the roof after becoming a HIIT guy.

Here’s Matt’s story… in his own words:

My experience with HIIT

When I first heard of HIIT I thought it was just simply interval training, a time tested way to raise your endurance.  However I started looking into this more and its very different then just interval training, you alternate periods of very high/extreme effort with periods of low effort.  My first real HIIT session was 2-30s, 2-20s, and 1-10s intervals after a 5min warm-up.  Only 5 minutes of actual HIIT, but it left me shaky and a little light headed, but shortly after that I also had a great sense of well being.  I have since grown to really enjoy my HIIT sessions.

Results?  I started easy on HIIT and although my diet has not been as great as I have wanted I still have managed to lose 8lbs in the past 8 weeks. That may not sound like much, but I had been on a plateau prior to this for a month or so, and it should also be noted that I have lost 2.5in on my chest, 2in off my stomach, and 1in off my waist as well.  Lately I think I may be re-compositioning because in the last 2 weeks alone I have lost a ½in on both my chest and my waist with no net weight change.

bruce_lee 2The most noticeable results for me come from my martial arts sessions, particularly sparring where it can be very explosive start/stop type of a workout, I simply don’t get winded anymore and even when I start to breathe hard it’s only a matter of seconds before I can recover.  HIIT has totally supercharged my cardiovascular system, in the past my wind always went long before my muscles, now it is tending to be the other way around which lets me train harder.

The scariest part initially was seeing the HR ranges I was staying in; however everything I have read states that perceived effort (how you feel) is more important than reading the numbers.  Our max HR are all different just like how our bodies will respond to HIIT is different, as long as you are not light headed, gasping for air, your arms are not tingling, or your chest not hurting your probably fine.  But at the same regard I would not jump full bore into HIIT without some moderate prior cardio work of some sort just to gauge your current status.

Otherwise I highly recommend HIIT to anyone healthy enough to perform it that wants improve their cardiovascular system or drop some fat.

Thanks Doug for helping me along with my questions on HIIT!

Matt

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Today’s Workout – June 18, 2009

Yogi

Workout # 1

  • 20 min of HIIT sprints on the bike – 100% intensity (10:50 / 15:45 / 20:40) w 5 min warm-up & cool-down

Workout # 2

  • 45 min of stretching, bending & breathing

HIIT is your best choice for burning off Belly Fat

fat-belly
Not a pretty picture is it?

BAD NEWS

Abdominal Visceral Fat (aka Belly Fat) has been strongly linked to:

  • Depression
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Systemic Inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Death

In a nutshell, a big gut is not a good thing.

GOOD NEWS

High Intensity (HIIT and/or HIRT) Training burns off belly fat faster than any other form of exercise.

The Magic of HIIT
The Magic of HIIT

The Science

Study # 1

In 2008, researchers took 27 middle-aged obese women with metabolic syndrome and subjected them to one of three exercise programs.

  • Group 1 was the no-exercise control group
  • Group 2 was the low intensity (aerobic) exercise group –
  • Group 3 was the high intensity (HIIT) exercise group

Groups 2 & 3 performed 5 workouts per week @ 400 calories per workout.

After 16 weeks, the HIIT group had significantly reduced total abdominal fat, abdominal subcutaneous fat and most importantly abdominal visceral fat.

Sadly, Groups 1 & 2 saw no significant changes in fat loss.

Study # 2

In study #2, researchers took 45 normal women (mean BMI 23.2plusminus2.0 kg m-2 and age of 20.2plusminus2.0 years) and subjected them to a 15 week HIIT exercise program.

As in the first study, the women were divided into 3 groups.

  • Group 1 was the no-exercise control group
  • Group 2 was the low intensity (aerobic) exercise group –
  • Group 3 was the high intensity (HIIT) exercise group

After 15 weeks, both exercise groups demonstrated a significant improvement in cardiovascular fitness.

However, only the HIIT group had a significant reduction in:

  • total body mass (TBM),
  • fat mass (FM),
  • trunk fat
  • and fasting plasma insulin levels.

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Conclusion

.

High Intensity training (HIIT or HIRT) is more effective than cardio training for burning off belly fat.

 

Reference

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Today’s Workouts – June 16, 2009

recumbant bike
Alan Ariail racing his NoCom - Photo: Dan Glatch

Tuesday’s Workouts

Workout # 1

  • 20 min of HIIT sprints on the bike – 100% intensity (10:50 / 15:45 / 20:40) w 5 min warm-up & cool-down

Workout # 2

  • 60 min of steady state cardio at intensity 6/10
  • 10 min of stretching
  • 20 min of meditation (approx time as time ceases to be linear in the meditative state…..ohmmmm

Today’s Workout – June 15, 2009

leg press ronnie coleman

Monday’s Workout

Warm-up

  • 10 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching
  • including kicking, punching & Turkish Get-Ups

Workout

Superset #1

  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Row – 81x tempo – 90 x 8, 105 x 8, 120 x 8, 135 x 8, 150 x 8, 165 x 5, supersetted with
  • Stab. Ball Terminal Leg Extension – 151 tempo – 6 sets of 10 reps

no rest between sets – 1 min rest between superset 1 & 2

Superset #2

  • Cybex Leg Press/Squat Hybrid Machine – 911 tempo – 5 sets of 10 reps @ 540 lbs, supersetted with
  • Incline DB Fly – 91x tempo – 5 sets of 8 reps @ 45 lbs

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #3

  • 2 Arm Cable Tricep Pushdowns – 91x tempo – 3 sets of 15 reps @ 150 lbs,  supersetted with
  • 2 Arm Cable Slide Reverse Grip Curls – 91x tempo – 3 sets of 10 reps @ 150 lbs

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 3 & 4

Superset #4

  • Dragon Flags – BW – tempo 91x – BW x 8/5/5/5/5/3, supersetted with
  • Vacuums – 6 sets of 5 reps – tempo 191

No rest between sets

Vacuum - Frank Zane
Vacuum - Frank Zane

Flexibility/Mobility Training

  • 15 minutes of static & pnf stretching

Notes:

Slow negatives suck

This Weekend’s Workouts – June 13 & 14, 2009

Bruce Lee Kick

Saturday’s Workout

Warm-up

  • 10 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching

Workout

Superset #1

  • Kicking, Punching & Jump Lunges for 7 minutes straight

no rest between sets2 min rest between superset 1 & 2 as I move from room to room

Superset #2

  • Push-Ups – 10 sets of 10 reps
  • BW Row on Smith Machine – 10 sets of 10 reps

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #3

  • 1 Arm DB Incline Chest Press – 5 sets of 5 reps for each arm (total reps – 50), 120 lb DB supersetted with
  • Reverse Lunge – 5 sets of 20 reps, Bodyweight

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #4

  • Band Chest Press – 250 lb approx – 7 sets of 20 reps (last set 16), supersetted with
  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Row – 7 sets of 5 reps @ 195 lbs, supersetted with
  • 1 Leg DL – Bodyweight – 7 sets of 5 reps each leg

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #5

  • 1 Leg Kneeling Leg Curl – 230 lbs x 5 sets of (5,5,5,4,3) reps, supersetted with
  • Bulgarian Squat – 5 sets of 10 reps @ bodyweight

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #6

  • DB Concentration Bicep Curl – 65 lbs x 5 sets x 5 reps, supersetted with
  • Cybex Incline Chest Press – 5 sets of 5 reps @ 305

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Flexibility/Mobility Training

  • 15 minutes of static & pnf stretching

Notes:

Loooooonnnnngggg workout – had tons of energy

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ab wheel

Sunday’s Workout

Warm-up

  • 10 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching

Workout

Superset #1

  • Ab Wheel – 10 sets of 10 reps, supersetted with
  • BW Squat – 10 sets of 20 reps – full depth, as fast as possible

no rest between sets2 min rest between superset 1 & 2 as I move from room to room

Superset #2

  • St. Arm Standing Cable Pulldown (dynamic motion like a Med Ball slam) – 8 sets of 15-11 reps, weight increasing from 130 lbs to 235 lbs, (focus on speed & power), supersetted with
  • Pullthroughs – 8 sets of 15-13 reps, weight same as Pulldowns, supersetted with
  • Super-stretched Bulgarian Squats – extreme stretch on rear leg – 8 sets of 15 reps @ BW

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

***Note – weakness in left hand due to hyperextended thumb – grip is becoming a problem

Superset #3

  • Hybrid Exercise – DB Bench Pullover combined with “Dead Bug” spine flattening – lying lengthwise on bench, knees bent, back flattened – DB is punched back & overhead instead of in the traditional arc – 95 lb DB x 8 sets of 15 reps supersetted with
  • Standing DB Curl – 8 sets of 15 reps – 55 lb DB, supersetted with
  • DB Lateral Raise – 8 sets of 15 reps – 35 lb DBs

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Flexibility/Mobility Training

  • 15 minutes of static & pnf stretching

Notes:


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Today’s Workout – June 12, 2009

Resistance Training Day

Warm-up

  • 10 min of Joint Mobility exercises & Dynamic Stretching
  • Pre-Hab exercises for shoulders & hips

Workout

Superset #1

  • Roll-outs – 10 sets of 10 reps – Bodyweight
  • Reverse Lunge – 10 sets of 20 reps (10 per leg) Bodyweight

No rest between sets

2 min rest between superset 1 & 2 as I move from stretching room to lifting room

Superset #2

  • 1 Arm Kneeling Pulldown – 8 sets of 5 reps per arm – weight pyramided from150-240 lbs
  • Glute Ham Raise off of Pulldown Machine – Bodyweight – 8 sets of 5 reps – Bodyweight

No rest between sets

30 sec rest between superset 2 & 3

Superset #3

  • Cable Woodchop – slight decline angle – 7 sets of 6 reps in both directions (total reps – 72), weight pyramiding from 120 – 195 lbs., (last 3 sets 19, 16, 14 reps) supersetted with
  • Jumping / Shuffling Split Lunges – 7 sets of 20 reps, Bodyweight
  • 1 Arm DB Overhead Press – 7 sets of 5 reps @ 65lbs – last set 12 reps

Set #4

  • Cybex Military Press – 1 big drop set  – 4 big breaths between sets
  • 205 x 16
  • 190 x 11
  • 170 x 8
  • 150 x 6
  • 130 x 5
  • 110 x 4
  • 90 x 5

Flexibility/Mobility Training

  • 15 minutes of static & pnf stretching

Notes:

Decent workout

Yesterday’s workout – 60 minutes of cardio on the bike while watchinbg the Lakers beat the Magic

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Today’s Workout – June 09, 2009

old fashioned bicycle

Cardio Workout Day

  • 30 min of steady state cardio at 60-70% intensity (recumbant stationary bike)
  • 20 min of HIIT sprints on the bike – 100% intensity (10 sec sprint – 50 sec recovery time)
  • 10 min of steady state cardio @ 50% intensity
  • 10 min of stretching
  • 20 min of meditation (approx time as time ceases to be linear in the meditative state…..ohmmmm

Additional 60 min (approx) of walking today

Today’s Workout – June 07, 2009

sprint

Cardio Workout Day

  • 30 min of steady state cardio at 60-70% intensity (recumbant stationary bike)
  • 20 min of HIIT sprints on the bike – 90-100% intensity (alternating 10 sec, 15 sec & 20 second sprints – recovery times were 50, 45 & 40 seconds respectively)
  • 10 min of steady state cardio @ 50% intensity
  • 15 min of stretching + foam roller work on my IT Bands

Notes:

Read a little of Dr. Natasha Turner’s “The Hormone Diet” during the first 30 min on the bike. Pretty good so far. This book is selling well in Canada but barely making a dent in the States. Too bad. Good stuff. I will be reviewing this book along with the Jillian Michaels book.

10 more reasons to love High Intensity Interval Training

  1. HIIT was better than the standard  multidisciplinary approach (exercise, diet and psychological support) at helping overweight kids reduce their cardiovascular risk factorsHere’s the study
  2. HIIT can prevent cardiac death in type 2 diabetic individuals. Here’s the study
  3. HIIT should be a required treatment for all Metabolic Syndrome patients. 16 weeks of HIIT training significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease, in terms of improved VO2max, endothelial function, blood pressure, insulin signaling, and plasma lipid composition. Here’s the study
  4. HIIT substantially improves insulin action. Say bye-bye to type 2 diabetes & metabolic syndrome. Here’s the study
  5. HIIT increases levels of HDL cholesterol – that’s the  good cholesterol. Here’s the study
  6. HIIT improves the HRR (Heart Rate Recovery – a measure of how quickly your heart returns to normal post-exercise)) in already well-trained cyclists. Here’s the study
  7. HIIT drastically improves cardiovascular function (V02max) in patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Here’s the study
  8. Interval training produced a 302% greater increase inV02max when compared to a long, slow distance training protocol. Here’s the study
  9. HIIT significantly improved the aerobic fitness of a group of prepubescent children (aerobic fitness measured by peak oxygen consumption and maximal aerobic velocity) Here’s the study
  10. HIIT improves the erectile function of hypertension patients  Here’s the study fellas

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Exercise Better with Coffee

For decades, endurance athletes have relied on caffeine as a performance aid. They claimed that a pre-workout cup of coffee helped them to push themselves harder and for longer periods of time.

And along the way, science has backed up that belief:

  • In 1979, scientists found that caffeine helped cyclists improve their performance by 7% during a 2 hour workout.
  • In 1991, cyclists dosed with 9mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight were able to increase their endurance by 51%
  • In 1995, cyclists performing high intensity circuits were able to improve their endurance by 29% with a dose of 5.5mg of caffeine per kg of body mass.

Pretty good, right? The only problem is that no one really knew why caffeine improved athletic performance…until now.

Researcher (and cycling geek) Dr. Robert Motl has spent the last 7 years considering the relationship between physical activity and caffeine. Today, he has a much better understanding of why that cuppa Joe he used to consume before distance training and competing enhanced his cycling ability.

  • Early in his research, he became aware that “caffeine works on the adenosine neuromodulatory system in the brain and spinal cord, and this system is heavily involved in nociception and pain processing.”
  • Since Motl knew caffeine blocks adenosine from working, he speculated that it could reduce pain.
  • A number of studies by Dr. Motl support that conclusion, including investigations considering such variables as exercise intensity, dose of caffeine, anxiety sensitivity and gender.

The good doctors latest study “looks at the effects of caffeine on muscle pain during high-intensity exercise as a function of habitual caffeine use,” he said. “No one has examined that before”.

And what did they find?

  • Caffeine reduces pain during exercise.
  • Less pain means you can work harder.
  • Less pain means you can work longer.

The Science

The study’s 25 participants were fit, college-aged males divided into two distinct groups:

  1. Subjects whose everyday caffeine consumption was extremely low to non-existent,
  2. And those with an average caffeine intake of about 400 milligrams a day, the equivalent of three to four cups of coffee.

After testing their baseline aerobic fitness, Dr. Motl tortured his subjects with two monitored high-intensity, 30-minute exercise sessions.

  • An hour prior to each session, cyclists – who had been instructed not to consume caffeine during the prior 24-hour period – were given a pill.
  • On one occasion, it contained a dose of caffeine measuring 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (equivalent to two to three cups of coffee); the other time, they received a placebo.
  • During both exercise periods, subjects’ perceptions of quadriceps muscle pain was recorded at regular intervals, along with data on oxygen consumption, heart rate and work rate.

The Results

Obviously the most important result was that caffeine reduced the pain of intense physical activity. But Dr. Motl also found that when it came to the reduction of pain, “caffeine tolerance doesn’t matter”. Caffeine-junkies and the herbal tea drinkers received the same pain reducing benefit from their little caffeine pill.

So, what now?

Dr. Motl wants to see what effect caffeine’s pain-reducing abilities has on sport performance.

“We’ve shown that caffeine reduces pain reliably, consistently during cycling, across different intensities, across different people, different characteristics. But does that reduction in pain translate into an improvement in sport performance?”

Interesting question for sure, but I am way to impatient to wait for science to catch up to real life. If you’re like me, check out this list of caffeine based beverages and let’s get physical.

Reference

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HIIT v.s. Type 2 Diabetes

hiit-vs-type-2-diabetes

In this study, researchers have shown that “only a few minutes of high intensity interval exercise, performed over two weeks, significantly improves glycemic control in sedentary young adults”.

the very definition of sedentary
the very definition of sedentary

In contrast, previous studies have shown that:

  • Long term (2-16 months) aerobic exercise programs have produced mixed results. While there were improvements in the insulin profile, the same can’t be said for the blood sugar profile. This indicates only a partial improvement in insulin action.
  • Long term strength training programs (hypertrophy style programs) produced results similar to the cardio programs.
  • Walking based interventions have also be unsuccessful with groups trying to prevent the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The Science

The HIIT effect on blood sugar and insulin response
The HIIT effect on blood sugar and insulin response

The low volume, high intensity interval training utilized in the current study significantly reduced both glucose AUC (area under curve) by (-12%) and insulin AUC by (-37%), with a sustained improved insulin action until at least day three after the last exercise session.

And these improvements required a minimal time commitment from the test subjects.

The HIIT Program

  • 2 weeks in duration
  • 6 workouts (3 per week)
  • 17-26 minutes per workout
  • 2-3 minutes of sprints per workout
  • Average caloric burn – 250 per workout (note – the researcher only measured caloric burn during the session – there was no mention of EPOC)

In comparison, the long term cardio programs I mentioned earlier required the test subjects to spend hours on an exercise bike, sweat out between 2000 to 3000 calories per week…and still receive inferior results.

So let’s compare:

HIIT Workout

  • Less time spent exercising
  • Better results

Cardio Workout

  • More time spent exercising
  • Inferior results

Conclusion

HIIT workouts produce significant improvements in glycemic contol and are a superior method for helping sedentary people improve their glycemic control.

Translation: HIIT kicks some serious Type 2 Diabetes butt.

Period.

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A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how our Western diet and lifestyle has caused an explosion of obesity, diabetes and various cardio-respiratory diseases.

I also talked about how the health experts of the last 50 years have continued to feed us the same advice even in the face of our growing obesity and chronic disease epidemic.

And after looking at all of that data, I wondered: why do we continue to listen to these experts with their food pyramids and low fat diets and aerobic exercise programs?

We must be insane.

Albert Einsten once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And that’s what we have been doing. The same advice year in and year out. Even as we get fatter and fatter…we listen to the same advice.

I ended yesterday’s post by saying that there had to be a better way. Here’s my idea.

A Better Way to Health and Weight Loss

In the past few years, web 2.0 technology has allowed large groups of people to collaborate and combine their talents to develop new technology, carry out a specific design task , or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data.

This phenomena has a variety of names: crowdsourcing, open source, collective intelligence, wikinomics, social commerce and crowdcasting.

Examples of this activity include:

So, what does this have to do with losing weight and getting fit?

  • Imagine if you could harness the collective intelligence and experience of each and every dieter, obesity expert, personal trainer, weight loss guru, bariatric doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral therapist and obesity researcher.
  • And imagine if you could direct all of that intelligence and experience towards finding a better solution to our twin dilemmas of obesity and chronic disease.

Instead of an environment where snake oil salesmen and government approved health experts sell false hope to the fat and desperate, imagine an environment where all concerned parties can come together to find a solution.

I know, I know, it sounds a little socialist to me too. But, in fact, we are already seeing the first steps toward this concept.

Websites like SparkPeople have created massive communities of people interesting in getting fit, lean and healthy. And those communities are getting larger by the day.

If you look at the numbers, SparkPeople sees 2.1 million American viewers per month.

sparkpeople-data

By comparison, my teeny tiny little blog sees almost 40,000 Global viewers per month.

healthhabits-visits-per-month

Obviously, SparkPeople is doing something right. In fact, they’re doing lots right. But, they’re not perfect.

Earlier today, I entered an imaginary client into their system

The client was a 255lb. man who wanted to lose 40 lbs. He was also concerned about type two diabetes and hypertension.

This is what they recommended:

  • A diet high in starchy carbs & low in fat
  • A bodybuilding style resistance program
  • A moderate cardio-vascular program
  • Stretching at the end of the workout

Same old, same old. Repeating the same diet & fitness advice that hasn’t been working for decades.

Can someone please stop the insanity!!!

  • Where’s the HIIT training?
  • Where’s the Paleo or Mediterranean or Zone eating philosophies?
  • Where’s the mental/emotional strategies designed to keep people from breaking their diets or skipping their workouts?
  • Where’s the discussion of supplements?

I don’t think that the folks at SparkPeople have any idea of what their site could be.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? Any website gurus out there eager to build a kick ass health and fitness community/wiki?

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The Edmonton Obesity Staging System

eoss

Dr. Arya Sharma, an obesity expert from the University of Alberta, has developed a new classification system to help doctors assess and treat obese patients.

If proven successful, this system would be used in tandem with the BMI measurement to help identify the health differences between people with similar BMIs

image from howstuffworks.com
image from howstuffworks.com

Dr. Sharma feels that “BMI does not always allow us to make rational clinical decisions regarding obesity management, because measures of weight (such as BMI) do not reflect severity of obesity in a given individual”.

Not only would doctors rank people with Class 1, 2 or 3 BMIs — where Class 3 is the heaviest, but not necessarily the worst — they would also use five new stage rankings.

  • Stage 0 would be someone with no health problems.
  • Stage 1 would be someone with risk factors, such as snoring or borderline hypertension.
  • Stage 2 and 3 would be someone whose condition is worsening, causing a heart attack, liver cirrhosis, sleep apnea or need for hip and knee replacement.
  • Stage 4 patients have so many problems they have to be treated extremely aggressively or need palliative care because losing the weight would be so difficult.

Using the two systems together would mean someone could have a Class 3 BMI, but only be at Stage 0.

Doctors would encourage that person to lose weight, but not suggest stomach surgery or prescription drugs since that person is otherwise healthy. Medical advice would become much more urgent for someone at Class 3, Stage 3, where bariatric surgery may be necessary.

“We think that if you have a staging system, that staging system will not differentiate how big people are, but about how sick people are,” said Sharma. “It helps (patients) in terms of recognizing how obesity is affecting their health.”

Currently, the EOSS is being studied at Alberta Health Services’ adult Weight Wise clinic in Edmonton, Alberta for both its accuracy and usefulness to doctors.

I have requested some more information from Dr. Sharma and I am hoping to have him answer a few of the questions that I have about EOSS…like why he feels that the majority of health care dollars should be spent on people in Stage 2 or 3.

What’s wrong with preventing the obesity in the first place?

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HIIT Interval Timers: Review of the Inventico TMR04-B

Bill Hall
artist: Bill Hall

One of my favorite training methods is HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training.

It’s one of the best tools I know for developing power, improving anaerobic endurance and maximizing fat loss.

But, it’s not perfect. One of the potential drawbacks to HIIT workouts is that instead of counting reps, your workout revolves around time.

And that’s fine if you are using a piece of cardio equipment with a built in timer.

However, if you are trying to time a set of HIIT hanging power cleans, you may be in for some trouble.

Unless you have a workout partner with a stopwatch, an expensive personal trainer like yours truly…or a dedicated Interval Workout Timer like the Inventico TMR04-B.

Inventico TMR04-B
Inventico TMR04-B

What is an Interval Timer

Basically, it is a stopwatch dedicated to counting down and alerting you to start and stop your HIIT work sets and rest periods.

The TMR04-B is not the only interval timer on the market. But, it is the only one that I have used.

Disclosure – Inventico contacted me in January and asked if I would be interested in trying out their product. At that time, offers of this kind were fairly new to me. I agreed to try out the unit because:

  1. I was sick of using a stopwatch to time my personal HIIT workouts
  2. The Inventico rep was very confident in the product and was willing to risk a bad review
  3. I am a geek for fitness equipment. You wouldn’t believe the amount of workout and rehab tools that litter my apartment

So, here’s the review:

How Does It Work?

  • The unit is about the size of a travel alarm clock – 3 1/2″ (8.3cm) wide & tall by 1 1/4″ (3.5cm) thick
  • You enter the number of interval sets and the length of the work sets and rest periods via the buttons at the top of the face plate.
  • The relatively large LCD display (height of numerals – 3/4″ or 2cm) counts down the work/rest periods
  • The unit beeps three times at the end of every work set and beeps 1 time at the end of your rest periods
  • At the end of your final work set, the unit produces 3 sets of 3 beeps
  • There is also a red LED light at the top of the unit that flashes in unison with the beeping.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • It made solo HIIT workouts a LOT simpler. For example, in the past when I wanted to do a HIIT workout using front squats, I had to pause between reps to turn and look at the wall clock in my gym. With the timer, I used the LED light as a visual cue to start and stop my sets. Outdoors, the auditory cue (beeping) was loud enough that I didn’t need to carry the timer during sprints.
  • The LCD screen is large enough to see from a few feet
  • Inventico designed the unit to be mounted onto fitness equipment. The unit has two holes in the casing that allow a piece of cable to be threaded through and attached to the frame of a piece of fitness equipment. Obviously, this was designed to help out a health club manager. For my use, I bought a piece of stick-on magnet and stuck it to the back plate of the timer. This allowed me to attach the timer to any piece of metallic equipment at whatever height was appropriate for that exercise.
  • The unit is durable – It was dropped more than once and it kept on tickin’

Cons

  • The beeping noise is way too loud for a health club. And it isn’t adjustable. But, it can be eliminated by removing a small chip from the circuit board inside. Note –  Inventico has plans to offer an adjustable volume control with it’s next edition of the timer
  • The LCD screen is hard to read in certain lighting conditions. However, I seldom used the screen anyway, preferring the LED indoors and the beeping outdoors.
  • The instructions were a little confusing. I gave the unit (with instructions) to a bunch of people and no one found it easy to adjust…at first. After a few tries, it becomes easier.

Overall

The unit isn’t perfect, but if you are a HIIT junkie, it’s worth the $26.

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Note about Health Habits and Product Reviews

In the past few months I have started to receive offers to try out different products & services. At first, I turned down all of these offers because I can’t stand when other bloggers write kiss-ass reviews for products simply because they got the product for free and felt that they owed it to the company.

I decided to take Inventico up on their offer because I was genuinely curious about the product. And I was 100% honest in my review.

In the future, if I write a review about a product that I received at no cost, I will:

  • Let you guys know that I received the product free from the manufacturer,
  • Review it honestly, and
  • Request from the manufacturer that they send a second item to one of my readers for their review. That way, we will get two different points of view on the same product/service.

Reference

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HIIT Training: The Cure for Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity?

It’s official:

HIIT training is AWESOME!!!

Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland have concluded that:

The efficacy of a high intensity exercise protocol, involving only 250 kcal of work each week, to substantially improve insulin action in young sedentary subjects  is  remarkable.

This novel  time-efficient  training paradigm can  be  used  as  a  strategy  to  reduce  metabolic  risk  factors  in  young  and middle aged sedentary populations who otherwise would not adhere  to  time consuming traditional aerobic exercise regimes.

Art by Bill Hall - billhall.com
Art by Bill Hall – billhall.com

And for those of you that don’t know, here are the risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome that HIIT training is so effective at reducing:

  • Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen)
  • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders — high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol — that foster plaque buildups in artery walls)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)
  • Prothrombotic state (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood)
  • Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)

 

People with the metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of coronary heart disease and other diseases related to plaque buildups in artery walls (e.g., stroke and peripheral vascular disease) and type 2 diabetes.

It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans have it.

And I am 100% sure that you don’t want it.

metabolic-syndrome

So, what do you need to do?

  1. Go to your doctor and get checked out – Max intensity sprints combined with a sky high B.P. is just asking for trouble.
  2. Go through my HIIT resources
  3. Find an exercise bike, set of stairs, outdoor track or even a carpeted area in your home to do burpees
  4. Schedule 3 x 15 minute HIIT workouts per week
  5. Get HIITing

And I am serious about the doctor. I don’t mean to sound like your mother, but a visit to your doctor at least once a year for a check-up is a very, very, very good idea.

References

HIIT Training: The Cure for Insulin Resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Disease and Obesity?

Art by Bill Hall - billhall.com
Art by Bill Hall - billhall.com

It’s official:

HIIT training is AWESOME!!!

Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland have concluded that:

The efficacy of a high intensity exercise protocol, involving only 250 kcal of work each week, to substantially improve insulin action in young sedentary subjects  is  remarkable.

This novel  time-efficient  training paradigm can  be  used  as  a  strategy  to  reduce  metabolic  risk  factors  in  young  and middle aged sedentary populations who otherwise would not adhere  to  time consuming traditional aerobic exercise regimes.

And for those of you that don’t know, here are the risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome that HIIT training is so effective at reducing:

  • Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen)
  • Atherogenic dyslipidemia (blood fat disorders — high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol — that foster plaque buildups in artery walls)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)
  • Prothrombotic state (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood)
  • Proinflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood)

People with the metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of coronary heart disease and other diseases related to plaque buildups in artery walls (e.g., stroke and peripheral vascular disease) and type 2 diabetes.

It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans have it.

And I am 100% sure that you don’t want it.

metabolic-syndrome

So, what do you need to do?

  1. Go to your doctor and get checked out – Max intensity sprints combined with a sky high B.P. is just asking for trouble.
  2. Go through my HIIT resources
  3. Find an exercise bike, set of stairs, outdoor track or even a carpeted area in your home to do burpees
  4. Schedule 3 x 15 minute HIIT workouts per week
  5. Get HIITing

And I am serious about the doctor. I don’t mean to sound like your mother, but a visit to your doctor at least once a year for a check-up is a very, very, very good idea.

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If you like what you see here, click here for updates

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Related Posts

References

WARNING: Tabata Workouts WILL Cause Fat Loss

tabata

I have a love/hate relationships with Tabata training…..I love what it does for me, but I hate how I feel around minute #3.

Seriously…Tabata training is one of the best ways to quickly improve fitness & melt body-fat. If that piques your interest, read on….

Pre-Workout Checklist

  1. Pick an exercise that uses a lot of muscle – squats, power cleans, pull-ups, etc… To make that selection, you can choose from the list of exercises that I have provided or pick your own if you think my choices stink.
  2. Pick a weight that you can handle for at least 7 reps.

Execution

  1. Perform as many reps as possible within 20 seconds – maintain good form
  2. Rest for 10 seconds
  3. Perform 7 more sets
  4. Move on to the next exercise

Note:  Use a clock, stopwatch, workout buddy or a dedicated HIIT timer to keep track of your work sets and rest periods. I know of two HIIT timers on the market.

The Workouts

Instead of giving you a static workout with pre-selected exercises, I have decided to organize the workout by movement patterns (e.g. Vertical Push) or dominant muscle groups (Quadriceps).

Within those groups, I have given you a list of related exercises.

For example, within the Vertical Push Movement Group, you can choose from 1 Arm Overhead PressPush Presses, 1 Arm Grappler Presses, Side Presses, etc…

Remember, the goal is to go as hard as you can for 8 sets of 20 seconds.

  • Don’t use this workout to try out new exercises – You won’t be able to develop maximum intensity if you need to concentrate on technique. Choose exercises that you know you can perform effectively and safely.
  • If you can’t make it through all 8 sets because of the lactic burn to a muscle, eliminate that exercise and replace it with one that uses more muscles. e.g. a push press uses more muscles than an overhead barbell press.
  • Single limb exercises allow you overcome this problem as well – e.g. 1 Arm Overhead Press v.s. Barbell Overhead Press

Workout # 1

  1. Vertical Push Movement
  2. Horizontal Pull Movement
  3. Quadriceps Dominant Movement
  4. Core Stabilization – focus on Spinal Flexion & Extension
  5. Vertical Push Movement – optional
  6. Horizontal Pull Movement – optional
  7. Quadriceps Dominant Movement – optional
  • Feel free to re-arrange the order of Exercises 1, 2 and 3. It doesn’t really make a difference.
  • Sets 5 to 7 are for advanced athletes only. Remember, intensity is the key to Tabata success. Don’t try and pace yourself in order to add another set. Go full out on each set. Believe me, 4 sets of full intensity Tabatas should be enough to have you soaking wet with sweat and bordering on nausea.

Workout # 2

  1. Vertical Pull Movement
  2. Horizontal Push Movement
  3. Hamstrings/Glute Dominant Movement
  4. Core Stabilization – focus on Rotation and Lateral Flexion
  5. Vertical Pull Movement – optional
  6. Horizontal Push Movement – optional
  7. Hamstring/Glute Dominant Movement – optional
  • Feel free to re-arrange the order of Exercises 1, 2 and 3. It doesn’t really make a difference.
  • Sets 5 to 7 are for advanced athletes only. Remember, intensity is the key to Tabata success. Don’t try and pace yourself in order to add another set. Go full out on each set. Believe me, 4 sets of full intensity Tabatas should be enough to have you soaking wet with sweat and bordering on nausea.

Vertical Push Movement

Horizontal Pull Movement

  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Row or Band Row
  • Body-weight Rowuse an adjustable power rack or Smith machine. This allows you to modify the angle of pull and the percentage of body-weight. Also, change your grips from set to set – width, underhand, overhand
  • 1 Arm or 2 Arm Seated Rows – I prefer the standing rows because of their high demand for stabilization, but the seated version is pretty good as well
  • Avoid any bent-over movements – Your lower back will fail long before the rest of you

Quadriceps Dominant Movement

  • Front Squats – Dumbbells or Barbell
  • Body-weight or Weighted Vest Squats – 1 Leg or 2
  • Overhead Squats1 Arm or 2, 1 Leg or 2
  • Quad Dominant Lunges – Lunge forward onto the ball of your foot AND keep your step short and allow the knee to travel past your toes…I know, I know, everyone says not to lunge this way, but it really hits the quads. BTW, take a look at how far your knee travels past your toes as you climb a flight of stairs…ooooh scary stuff.
  • Bench Step-Ups
  • Bulgarian Lunge/Squat

Core Stabilization – focus on Spinal Flexion & Extension

  • Standing Cable or Band Crunch
  • The Ab Wheel
  • Leg raises/Knee-Ups / Crunches (various) – I would skip these exercises – you will fatigue quickly and you will probably have to cheat to complete all 8 sets

Vertical Pull Movement

Horizontal Push Movement

  • Push-Ups – like the Body-weight Row, use a Smith machine to adjust angles and body-weight resistance. Also, adjust hand placement (width, overhand, underhand) from set to set. Trust me, switching grips will increase the number of reps you will be able to perform
  • 1 Arm Standing Cable Press or Band Presses
  • Stay away from any standard bench press type exercise. The lactic acid will hit way too soon. You will never get a good Tabata workout…trust me. The cable/band exercise is the best choice. Even the push-ups allow you to use your legs and core to help perform the lift. You need these extra muscles to take some of the load

Hamstring/Glute Dominant Movement

Core Stabilization – focus on Rotation and Lateral Flexion

Related Posts

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Tabata Training 101

What Can Tabata Do For You?

Aside from burning off pounds and pounds of excess body-fat, Tabata Training can help you:

  • Improve your cardio-vascular function (aerobic endurance)
  • Improve your anaerobic endurance
  • Improve your muscular endurance
  • Make you strong and fit and look fantastic

How’s that for a fitness training method?

The Science Behind Tabata

The basis for all of the excitement surrounding Tabata Training comes from the good doctor’s 1996 research study published in the journal – Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

In that study, Dr. Tabata concluded that high-intensity intermittent training (HIIT) was a much more effective and efficient training method than tradional cardio training.

Not only was Tabata Training more effective at improving anaerobic endurance, it was also more effective at improving aerobic or cardio-vascular endurance.

And Why is Tabata Training so Effective?

Dr. Tabata believed that the reason behind the success of his training protocol was:

INTENSITY

The good doctor believed that exercising at a high level of intensity for a short period of time was more effective than  exercising at a low intensity for a long duration.

And he wasn’t alone.

Ever since Dr. Tabata released the scientific genie from the bottle in 1996, other researchers have built upon his work. Here are just a sample of the available research:

And there is lots more where this came from.

I just did a quick PubMed search and came up with 1110 studies related to Tabata’s work.

So, What is Tabata Training Anyway?

Dr. Tabata’s training method is a very specific version of High Intensity Interval (or Intermittent) Training.

In his 1996 study, Dr. Tabata had seven subjects perform:

  • An intermittent training exercise 5 days a week for 6 weeks
  • Each individual training session consisted of seven to eight sets of a single exercise
  • Each set was performed at the high intensityof about 170% of ˙VO2max.
  • Each set was timed to last for 20 seconds
  • Each period of rest between sets was timed to last for 10 seconds
  • This means that each Tabata Workout lasted for only 4 minutes.
  • 4 minutes of Tabata Training x 5 days a week x 6 weeks = 120 minutes or 2 hours of exercise over 6 weeks
  • In comparison, Tabata’s cardio-vascular group performed 30 hours of cardio training over the course of the experiment (60 min workouts x 5 days per week x 6 weeks)

And still, the Tabata workouts were more effective than the cardio-vascular workouts.

How Do I Design My Own Tabata Workout?

I am glad you asked.

In tomorrow’s post, I will give you two Tabata style workouts.

Each workout is to be performed 2x per week for the next 6 weeks.

I guarantee that those of you willing to give this program a serious effort will see some serious improvements in their physique and their overall level of fitness.

And for those of you that can’t wait until tomorrow: Here are some of my posts about HIIT training.

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HIIT – The "Aerobic" Version…or Part 6 of the "Why Can't I Lose This Fat" Saga

For those of you that need to catch up on this “how-to” weight loss opus, here are the links:  Part 1, Part 2Part 3 , Part 4 , HIRT Exercise Videos and Part 5.

And now that you’re all caught up, on with Part 6.

HIIT – The “Aerobic” Version

So what is “Aerobic” HIIT training?

Well, to be honest, if you perform it correctly, there is very little aerobic about this type of training. Like Part 5, these HIIT workouts are anaerobic in nature. They will be as intense as the workouts in Part 5, but unlike Part 5, I will be using traditional aerobic exercises and pieces of traditional aerobic exercise equipment instead of the dumbbells and rubber bands.

And like Part 5, this HIIT workout will provide the same benefits:

 

  • Increase your metabolism for up to 36 hours
  • Burn maximum fat in minimum time
  • Increase strength
  • Increase muscular endurance
  • Give you lean, firm muscles
  • Improve your anaerobic endurance
  • Shorten your workout times, and
  • Increase your free time

HIIT Theory

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Like I said in Part 5, if you want a thorough explanation of the theory behind HIIT training, check out this earlier post.

Here are the basics of this HIIT – Aerobic Training Program

  • With HIIT, you try to work as hard as possible for the assigned time period.
  • Each HIIT- Aerobic workout is made up of an equal number of short duration sprints and longer duration recovery periods.
  • During each sprint, you try to pedal / run / climb as fast as you can.
  • I usually start beginners with a 10 minute workout. That 10 minute workout is usually made up of 10 – 10 second sprints and 10 – 50 second recovery periods.
  • The program can be modified by:
  • Lengthening or shortening the duration of the sprint portion.
  • Lengthening or shortening the duration of the recovery period.
  • Lengthening or shortening the duration of the entire HIIT workout.
  • Increasing or decreasing the intensity of the exercise
  • Increasing or decreasing the number of workouts per week
  • Changing exercises

Here is a chart I designed to help my clients create their own HIIT – Aerobic workouts.

And here is a workout designed for a HIIT beginner.

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Schedule

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Week 1: (1) 10 minute HIIT workout

Week 2: (1) 12 minute HIIT workout

Week 3: (1) 14 minute HIIT workout

Week 4: (1) 16 minute HIIT workout

Week 5: (1) 18 minute HIIT workout

Week 6: (1) 20 minute HIIT workout

The Exercises

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Just about any “aerobic” exercise can be modified to perform a HIIT workout.

Due to safety concerns however, some exercises are a little less desirable than others. For example, HIIT training on a treadmill does have the potential for a very embarrassing and potentially painful accident.

For Example:

And now a proper HIIT treadmill workout:

HIIT on an Exercise Bike:

HIIT on an Elliptical Machine:

HIIT Hill Sprints – Sprint Up and Walk Down

or HIIT Hill Bounding for those with too much time and energy

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In addition to these exercises, you can also:

  • Perform your sprints running or swimming in a swimming pool
  • Sprint indoors or outdoors on a flat surface
  • Sprint outdoors on a bike, or
  • Sprint on a Versaclimber

You are limited only by your imagination.

The Beginner’s Workout

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SAMPLE HIIT – AEROBIC WORKOUT

WEEK – WORKOUT

EXERCISE

RESISTANCE

RECOVERY TIME

SPRINT TIME

TOTAL TIME

1-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

10 MIN

2-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

12 MIN

3-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

14 MIN

4-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

16 MIN

5-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

18 MIN

6-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

20 MIN

7-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

12 MIN

7-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

12 MIN

8-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

14 MIN

8-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

14 MIN

9-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

16 MIN

9-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

16 MIN

10-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

18 MIN

10-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

18 MIN

11-1

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

20 MIN

11-2

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE

INCLINE 8 REISTANCE 10

50 SEC.

10 SEC.

20 MIN

Here is a pdf copy of the sample workout –hiit-workout-aerobic

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Good luck; and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment..

 

Like this article???

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HIIT – The Anaerobic Version………..or Part 5 of the "Why Can't I Lose This Fat" saga

For those of you that need to catch up, here is  Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4

And now that you’re all caught up, on with Part 5.

HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training

So, what is the big deal about HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training will:

  • Increase your metabolism for up to 36 hours
  • Burn maximum fat in minimum time
  • Increase strength
  • Increase muscular endurance
  • Give you lean, firm muscles
  • Improve your anaerobic endurance
  • Shorten your workout times
  • Increase your free time, and
  • Guarantee world peace in our lifetime

.

HIIT Theory

.

If you are interested in the theory behind HIIT training, check out this earlier post.

For now, here are the basics.

  • With HIIT, you try to perform as many reps as possible within a set time period
  • Each HIIT super-set is made up of many HIIT mini-sets of a single exercise
  • Within each HIIT mini-set, you try to perform as many reps as possible
  • I usually start beginners with a 10 minute super-set. That super-set is made up of 10 second mini-sets and 60 second rest periods.
  • This means that each mini-set and rest period = 70 seconds, and
  • That during the 10 minute super-set, the trainee will perform 9 mini sets, and
  • Will work for 90 seconds and rest for 510 seconds

.

For this article, I will outline a beginner workout. In my next post, I will outline HIIT workouts for intermediate and advanced trainees.

.

Beginner Workout

.

Choose this workout if you have never tried HIIT before.
.

This is a 6 week program, designed to prepare you for the intermediate workout.

.

Schedule

.

Week 1: (1) 20 minute HIIT workout – (consisting of 2 x 10 min. HIIT super-sets)

Week 2: (2) 20 minute HIIT workouts

Week 3: (3) 20 minute HIIT workouts

Week 4: (1) 30 minute HIIT workout and (2) 20 minute HIIT workouts

Week 5: (2) 30 minute HIIT workouts and (1) 20 minute HIIT workouts

Week 6: (3) 30 minute HIIT workouts
.

The Exercises

.

With any beginner HIIT program, I like to keep the exercises simple.

As such, you will be performing only (2) exercises per workout.

.

Workout 1

Squat

Push-Up

.

Workout 2

1 Leg Deadlift

Bodyweight Row – at home – substitute your kitchen table for the power rack

.

Workout 3

Thruster

Chin-Up / Pulldown

Option 1: Home-Gym Pulldown with a Band

Option 2: Commercial Gym Pulldown

Option 3: Chin-Ups

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SAMPLE HIIT WORKOUT

WEEK – WORKOUT

EXERCISE

RESISTANCE

SUPER-SET TIME

MINI-SET TIME

REST TIME

TOTAL MINI-SETS

1-1

SQUAT

BODY-WEIGHT

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

1-1

PUSH-UP

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

2-1

SQUAT

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

2-1

PUSH-UP

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

2-2

1 LEG DEADLIFT

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

2-2

ROW

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

3-1

SQUAT

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

3-1

PUSH-UP

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

3-2

1 LEG DEADLIFT

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

3-2

ROW

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

3-3

THRUSTERS

B/W + 20 LBS

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

3-3

CHIN-UP

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

4-1

SQUAT

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

4-1

PUSH-UP

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

4-2

1 LEG DEADLIFT

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

4-2

ROW

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

4-3

THRUSTERS

B/W + 20 LBS

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

4-3

CHIN-UP

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

5-1

SQUAT

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

5-1

PUSH-UP

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

5-2

1 LEG DEADLIFT

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

5-2

ROW

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

5-3

THRUSTERS

B/W + 20 LBS

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

5-3

CHIN-UP

B/W

10 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

9

6-1

SQUAT

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

6-1

PUSH-UP

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

6-2

1 LEG DEADLIFT

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

6-2

ROW

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

6-3

THRUSTERS

B/W + 20 LBS

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

6-3

CHIN-UP

B/W

15 MIN.

10 SEC

60 SEC

13

.

Here is a pdf copy of the sample workout – sample-hiit-workout

.

Good luck; and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment.

If you like what you see here, click here for updates or Share this Post with the rest of the world.

Thanks in Advance.

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Related Posts

4 Steps to a Great HIIT Workout

In a couple of recent posts, (here and here) I discussed the science behind High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT Training. In those posts, I discussed why HIIT is an essential tool in developing complete physical fitness as well as being a VERY effective fat burning tool.

I have also designed a custom HIIT workout geared to improve your vertical jump, click here.

Today’s post will give you the tools to develop your own HIIT or Sprint Training program.

The 4 Steps to a Great HIITWorkout

1. Exercise Selection

Most of the research studies into HIIT have relied on stationary bicycles or ergo-meters to test the effectiveness of this training protocol. Mainly this is due to the need for these studies to control all of the variables in a closed laboratory setting. Kinesiology lab = Stationary bike.

You, however, are not limited to an exercise bike, treadmill or ergo-meter (stationary rowing machine). HIIT or Sprint Training requires an all-out effort followed by an ‘active’ rest period. As long as you choose exercises that are fully challenging your body for the entire sprint portion, you are limited only by your imagination.

My two caveats are that

  1. You should choose big compound exercises that use as many muscles as possible.
  2. You should choose exercises that involve continuous movement. There should be little to no resting during the exercise – i.e. no bench press, power cleans where you drop the bar to the floor.

Here are some suggestions:

Cardio machines

  • Bike
  • Treadmill – be careful transitioning from sprint to recovery – some treadmills are more suited to this type of exercise than others – Back in the day, I used to keep the treadmill at a fast clip and increase the incline for my sprint and then (as quickly as I could hit the ‘decline elevation’ key, bring the treadmill level for the active rest portion.
  • Elliptical – Same warning as the treadmill
  • Ergo-meter / Stationary Flywheel Rowing Machine
  • Versaclimber, VersaPulley

Body Wight Exercises

  • Sprinting – track, indoor, outdoor, cross-country, etc.
  • Hill Sprints
  • Sand dune sprints
  • Swimming
  • Road cycling – My be difficult to coordinate HIIT if you have to deal with traffic
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees
  • Think gym class calisthenics or take a look at some of the crossfit videos on you tube.

External Resistance Exercises

This is where you are really limited only by your imagination and your common sense. Remember, you should be going full out. Moves that are too complex won’t work when you hit that great big wall of pain.

2. Volume

Simply put, as you increase the volume of your HIIT work, your anaerobic endurance improves and the amount of caloric burn increases.

I have included a linear Volume Progression chart for you to follow. Beginners should start with 1 x 20 minute workout per week. Trainees with a good aerobic / anaerobic base can start with 2 x 20 minute workouts per week.

Don’t underestimate HIIT. It’s not like aerobic or standard resistance training. There is a strong neuro-muscular component to this training. You will over train if you are not careful.

Work to increase your volume to the maximum recommended 3 x 30 minute workouts per week before increasing the intensity or eternal load.

3. Intensity

I am defining intensity in reference to the ratio of sprint time to active rest time. In the McMaster University study, the participants struggled with a 1:9 – Sprint:Active Rest Ratio.

My Intensity Progression Chart takes you from a 1:9 ratio all the way to a 1:3 ratio.

In each Sprint:Recovery Ratio Category, I have provided guidelines based on 4 different sprint durations. Feel free to jump back and forth between sprint durations in between workouts. A 10 second sprint is not necessarily any harder than a 30 second sprint. Depending upon your individual fitness, you may find the 30 second sprint harder than the 10 second, while your training partner may be the complete opposite.

My advice; do whichever length is the hardest for you.

Beginners will start out with the 1:9 Ratio and progress through to the 1:3 Ratio.

The range of Sprints per Workout is to accommodate your improvements in HIIT Volume Progression. In the 1:3 Ratio workout, 30 second sprints performed for 20 minutes will result in a total of 10 sprints. As you progress to a 30 minute workout, you will be doing 15 sprints.

4. External Load

The final step to a great HIIT workout is external load.

Increase the resistance on your cardio machine. Increase the weight of the dumbbell. Or use one of my favorite tools, the X Vest. A less expensive brand of weighted vest is available here.

This is the final step on your path to a great HIIT / Sprint Training Workout.

To Review

  • Choose your HIIT exercise carefully. Big muscle groups, constant motion, not too complex to perform when you are tired, availability in the gym and hopefully something you enjoy performing.
  • Increase your HIIT Volume
  • Increase your HIIT Intensity
  • Increase your external load

With just these 4 steps, you have an endless number of HIIT workout options.

For a custom HIIT geared to improve your vertical jump, click here.

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