You’ve probably heard of HIIT and interval training. They have been the big thing for a decade now — and for good reason. They have two advantages over the usual strength-training work outs:
- they take less time
- they push you to work harder
High Intensity is Important
Research has shown consistently that high-intensity exercise (metabolically challenging exercise that pushes your heart rate upwards of 80-90%) supplies benefits over moderate and lengthy work outs for: fat loss, increased growth hormone and insulin growth factor, increased insulin sensitivity, raised metabolism, improved cardiovascular fitness and cardiorespiration.
But what all the articles you’ve read don’t tell you is that very few of you are really doing high intensity. Just because the work out is called “HIIT” or “HIT” and you feel winded doesn’t mean you’re doing high intensity.
How You’re Being Cheated
Sure, you’re doing that 30-second interval and getting breathless now-and-then. But you take too much rest time to recover or cut back on the weight or speed of your next interval, or you just take the whole work out rather easy.
Very few of us can really push ourselves into the realm that these high-intensity research studies are talking about. Achieving high intensity is what I describe as discomfort but many of us will call painful: it’s when you gasp and can’t speak, muscles burn, and sweat stings your eyes.
When was the last time that happened to you in the gym?
Performing high-intensity level exercise takes practice and desire. It also takes good planning, meaning you need multiple rest days between.
A proper high-intensity work out will leave your muscles and liver depleted of glycogen and require days to reload. Until your glycogen stores are refueled, you’ll likely feel sluggish and weak. Muscle soreness may or may not be part of the deal. As to how much rest you need, it all depends on how conditioned and how young you are.
Getting High with Integrated Concurrent Exercise
So, how can you achieve high intensity? The most direct way is to really push yourself. When you have a 30-second interval, you do your exercise — whatever it is — at sprinting speed. You don’t conserve your energy. You don’t pace yourself. You don’t choose a light weight.
How many of us truly do that?
Another method is integrated concurrent exercise (ICE), which beats every other mode of training for achieving fitness markers quickly.
You’ve probably heard the age-old controversy about whether you should do aerobic or strength exercise first for the best results: doing both modes, one after the other, is called serial concurrent exercise. Some trainers say you should run for 30 minutes and then lift, or do the modes on different days.
Well, doing serial training in any order and any style (interval or sets or circuits) is not as effective as integrating the two modes. That is: one interval of strength followed by one interval of cardio will achieve faster fat loss and EPOC — the hallmarks of high intensity.
The reason is how the different modes allow some modal rest while also pushing heart rate higher step-by-step. For example, sets of heavy squats followed by an aerobic interval with rower reduces stress on your legs, but not entirely, while making your heart now work harder. On the other hand, 30-180 seconds of running followed by floor press means you’ll gain some aerobic rest, but your heart rate will remain higher than it would going to a chest lift after a leg lift.
Our clients have found they really like the variety and challenge this work out offers.
For 2017, we’ll be focusing on ICE routines. Currently our groups are at the German Volume Training interim. I’ve posted here the work outs we’ll perform the next three weeks. If you’d like more info on our group-only membership, text Teresa at 319-325-4000.
Here’s What We’re Doing
You can download the PDFs we use for the next three weeks below to use in your gym or at home. These are high-intensity work outs. Good technique and modifications should be made per individual and these may be too intense for deconditioned adults. You are responsible for exercising within your limits.
ICE Strength Work Out – 45 minutes with 4 strength exercises focused on muscle group.
ICE Power Work Out – 45 minutes with 4 explosive power exercises focused on plyometrics.
ICE Rounds Work Out – 35 minutes with 2 compound exercises focused on whole body.
Read the research here.