They say that routine is the main culprit against progress. Well the same can be said for your fitness journey. Do something enough times and your body will condition itself to the elements.
In gym world, that means leaving you with wasted time, energy and money alongside little results to show for in the end. Gains don’t needn’t be that hard.
Today we’re talking about the need to shock your body to achieve real strength whilst leaning up – high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Experts say that HIIT needs to be a part of your program if you want to be proper fit as opposed to just lean. Helping us out with the hard facts is personal trainer Sam Wood of 28 by Sam Wood, a man who boasts seventeen years worth of experience in the fitness game.
Why You Need To Shock Your Body For Gains
The short answer: The body is smart and it works out what’s going on quickly and adapts.
The proven theory is that if you don’t shock the body and create a response, there won’t be any adaptation (progress, gains, etc). HIIT also provides an accelerated metabolic effect well after the workout has finished and this is a good thing.
“If you go for a run or a walk or a jog, you will have an elevated metabolism whilst doing that workout.”
“Being a steady state exercise, relatively quickly after you finish your heart rate comes back down and so does your metabolic rate. It just means you’re burning calories and fat at a normal state, whereas if you do high intensity training, you’re really out of your comfort zone and it has a carry-over accelerated metabolic effect.”
Wood says that if you do a HIIT workout in the morning, you will have an elevated metabolic rate for a majority, if not the whole day. This is as opposed to a run or a walk where your body’s metabolic rate will go back to steady state quickly.
Does This Mean Jogging Is Useless?
Low intensity exercises still have a place in this world, according to Wood.
“We live in this fast paced world where people want bang for their buck. HIIT is going to give you better bang for your buck.”
What you need to consider though is how hard you’re willing to push your body to see results in a certain time frame. Regularly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone demands a mental aptitude and physical capability that many people don’t have.
“You have to be durable enough that HIIT activity doesn’t injure you or worse, set you back,” explains Wood.
“HIIT scares people off because it makes people think it’s for super fit people, buff, covered in muscles, training like that.”
High intensity training should be relative to you. More importantly your high intensity is different to another’s high intensity and it’s a point that needs to be embraced.
“High intensity doesn’t need to be high impact”
Here are Wood’s suggestions for a basic HIIT session:
- Mountain climbers
- Military push-ups
- Bike with increasing intervals
- Squat jumps
- Battle ropes
The key to successful high intensity interval training is to follow it up by short recovery. When starting out it’s important not to pigeonhole HIIT into lots of jumping and heavy landing.
“It’s all about the more muscles you work in one movement. The bigger muscle groups generate more blood flow which means heart rate gets higher – higher intensity equals bigger bang for your buck.”
“You’ll get more benefit from a burpee, squat jump or push-up into something else more than a bicep curl which is fairly isolated.”
“It’s important to workout your upper body, lower body and core.”
From a cardio perspective, Wood recommends using a Concept 2 rower or assault bike. These machines will get your upper and lower body working hard together.
HIIT Strength Training: Getting It Right
You see it in the gym all the time and it often leaves you with a question. How do you know you’re lifting heavy enough or compromising your form?
“The term in weight training you need to know is progressive overload,” says Wood.
“You progressively overload the muscle to create an adaptation. How you know if you’re in the right zone or weight category is based on this one point – good form through a full range of motion at which rep range you will hit the wall.”
When training for strength:
- It’s ok to hit the wall in a 3-5 rep range
When training for muscle hypertrophy or growth:
- It’s okay to hit the wall at anywhere from 10 – 20 reps depending on the exercise
When training for endurance:
- You want to hit the wall at 30 – 40 reps (push-ups or body-weighted exercises)
Wood says that If you have the right consistency and intensity, you can get incredible results in less than 30 minutes a day.
“If you go gym twice a week, make those sessions longer. If you’re a 4, 5 or 6 times a week person, you can get awesome results if you’re pushing yourself in less than 30 minutes a day.
As always these practices only work with good nutrition. Failing this will negate all your hard work.
Should You Do HIIT Everyday?
The short answer is that it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
“If you’re trying to put on lots of muscle, HIIT training is not going to do that,” says Wood.
“HIIT training is great for keeping you strong, lean and maintaining some muscle mass whilst being great for cardio fitness.”
“But if you’re a skinny guy who wants to put on 20kg of muscle, you’re still going to have to do your heavier volume weight sessions just until you get to that point where your body finds it sweet spot to how much lean muscle tissue you can maintain.”
So the gist of the concept is simple. If you’re an everyday guy who just wants to be a bit stronger, a bit leaner and thinner, then HIIT training is the right option.