What The Latest Research Says In The Quest For the Ideal HIIT Formula
A new study was published earlier this year. I know, this happens like all the time. But this one has been posited as unveiling the ultimate, dare they say, ideal high intensity interval training (HIIT) formula. Now, this has been a topic of study for a long time. Tons of research studies have been performed just in the past decade alone, and each one has shed a little more light on the whole HIIT method. Naturally, we must be getting closer to some really big discoveries. So, could this be it? Could we finally have what we’ve always been looking for? Have we found the Holy Grail of high intensity interval training?
I think you know the answer to that because you know better than all those lurid, pesky journalists would like to think you do. Alas, the new findings of this recent study are interesting and do help us to figure out what works best in HIIT – even though it merely reinforces what we’ve known since before Tabata was in diapers.
Here it is.
The 10-20-30 HIIT Formula
For those who are wondering, you can read the study’s abstract yourself, but I can summarize it for you here (and translate it into English).
A massive pool of runners (18 total) were divided into two groups and tested over seven weeks, which is like forever, to compare a unique method of interval training to a more traditional endurance running program. The interval training group performed the following split:
30 seconds at 30% of max (e.g. walking)
20 seconds at 60% of max (e.g. running)
10 seconds at 90% of max (e.g. sprinting)
That’s 30-20-10 for short, and it’s a pretty clever idea if you ask me. Now, that’s a 1 minute interval, and they performed it 5 times in a row without rest. After the 5 minute round, they would then rest for two minutes and repeat for a total of 3-4 rounds. That’s a 21-28 minute workout depending on how many rounds they did.
The abstract doesn’t tell us how frequently they trained or for how long the workouts lasted on average, but it does mention that they ran an average of 14 kilometers per week (about 8.7 miles). For you non-runners, that’s very conservative mileage for most runners. Most runners will average at least 15 miles per week, and in my experience, running for 20-50+ miles per week is more common.
Apparently, the other runners in the control group simply ran a little over twice the distance (~30.4km or about 19 miles per week) for about twice the duration, presumably. The abstract doesn’t tell us much more about them.
Now, onto the results…
Continue reading The Holy Grail of High Intensity Interval Training
Supercharge Your Results and Prevent Exhaustion By Using the Escalating Intensity Strategy During Your HIIT Workouts
Not too long ago, I introduced the escalating intensity strategy that I’ve been using for a number of years, and I gave some examples for applying it to straight sets, supersets, and circuit sets (click here for the full article). Today, I’ll be explaining how to apply this strategy to interval training, and in particular, the Tabata-inspired, 4-minute high-intensity interval training workouts (HIIT).
In case you’re not familiar with this superb training protocol, here it is in a nutshell:
Perform 20 seconds of work immediately followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeat 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. The shorthand version of this is 20/10×8.
It’s a fantastic training protocol because it’s very simple and effective, but never easy – even for the most advanced athletes and trainees. Many different training programs use it, such as TACFIT Commando and TACFIT Warrior, just to name a couple, and you can learn more about it here if you’d like: 4 minute HIIT workout.
Now, the inherent problem with this model for a lot of people is that performing truly high-intensity exercise for this long is extremely difficult, and most people can’t do it properly without a coach – if at all. Inevitably, basic exercise technique begins to fail around the middle point and it just goes downhill from there – bad news.
And that’s the reason why I started experimenting with the escalating intensity strategy during my HIIT workouts. To say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results would be an understatement. Quite frankly, I’ve been shocked that I can do less total work at a lower overall intensity level and still get equal or better results. Are you intrigued yet? Yeah, I was, too!
Continue reading How to Optimize the 4-Minute, Tabata-Style HIIT Workout (Without Killing Yourself)
Introducing the Escalating Intensity Strategy to Help You Squeeze Every Little Bit of Benefit Out of Only 3 Sets of Work For 21st Century Results
Please tell me you haven’t been doing three sets of ten reps in your training program. Seriously, that is so 90′s. I mean, even the personal trainer at your local health club who got his cert from a mail-order catalog isn’t even prescribing that format anymore. And you know why? In a word, it’s generic. In a bunch of words, it’s generic, vague, impersonal, and lacking in all the fundamental qualities of customized program design, which doesn’t exactly work for individuals – like you and I. And that’s not exactly ideal, unless you particularly enjoy cookie-cutter, group fitness-esque training programs where everybody’s a winner, etc. etc., and you don’t really build a high standard of fitness – even though that’s what everyone wants.
Now, don’t get me wrong because it’s not that doing 3 sets of 10 is inherently bad. The problem is that it was considered the gold standard for so long without ever being questioned for validity. It’s just what coaches, trainers, and instructors taught. It’s just what people did – for decades. But not anymore.
No no, today people are starting to wake up and realize that there’s more to working out than simply breaking a sweat. There’s more to working out than merely getting all your reps in. There’s more to working out than showing up, checking it off, and then going home to feel good about yourself. There’s more – much more.
Of course, you could be content with the old status quo and keep obtaining your marginal results – at least until you plateau, get injured, give up, and restart the process all over again. Be my guest, and let me know how that works out for you.
Now, you and I both know that that’s not really what we want. We want to not only clock in and do the work, we want to make the most of every second that we devote to bettering ourselves physically and our quality of life as a result. We want to milk it for all it’s worth – and a’milking we shall.
So, I’m going to show you one simple way to improve your training program by super-charging the simple 3×10 formula by making it a little bit more personalized (BIG step in the right direction to go with your training as a whole). The key is that we’re looking for quality here, people. And so, without further adieu, here’s the formula that I’ve used with great success with my clients and personally…
Continue reading Why Doing 3 Sets of 10 is DEAD
Yes, you read that right. With only a single, four minute mini-workout, you will get a metabolic boost offering you several hours worth of fat burning. You’d have a hard time finding a higher return on any investment. I meant what I said though. You are going to have to give me 4 minutes of your time. Trust me, it will be worth it.
You see, today, you are going to learn something by doing it. This is going to be educational through personal experience. So, prepare yourself to get out of your chair and move around for a few minutes.
You can do a lot of pushups in 4 minutes. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/reidgilman/
Step 1) Select one exercise from the list below, preferably one you’re familiar with and comfortable doing for several repetitions:
- bodyweight squat
- spinal rock
- front or reverse lunge
- bird dog
- another comparable exercise of your choice
There, that was the easy part.
Step 2) Now, I also want you to get either a timer, or a clock/watch with a second hand and place it somewhere you can easily see it while practicing that exercise.
We’re going to do a mini-workout that lasts for only four minutes – just enough to get your heart rate going and break a sweat without utterly exhausting you.
Step 3) So, let’s say you picked the bodyweight squat exercise. Here is what I want you to do…
After a brief warmup, repeat the following 8 times in a row: 20 seconds of bodyweight squats, followed by 10 seconds of rest (then immediately into the next 20 second round of bodyweight squats). The total duration should equal four minutes.
Warning: do not attempt if you are injured, unfit, or otherwise wimpy. Only attempt with clearance from your doctor and if you want to enjoy exponential fat burning benefits from a ridiculously short time investment.
-Use the first 3 rounds as gradually escalating warmup rounds. Focus on your technique and try to make each repetition perfect – even if you must go very slowly to dial in the correct movement pattern. For rounds 4-6, gradually start to build intensity, but maintain good technique as your highest priority. At this stage, the challenge should be moderate, but not extreme (rating of perceived exertion should be between 60-80% of your max). The last two rounds should be an all-out effort (80-100% of your max exertion), and you should be striving to maximize the amount of good repetitions you can score during those short, 20 second windows.
-This should not be four minutes of all-out effort. It’s not a 4 minute “set.” Instead, pace yourself and only push hard for the last 2 rounds. You don’t want to go over-kill in the beginning and burn out before the end. Think of the 8 successive rounds as a formula for peaking at the very end. Round 8 should be your highest scoring round.
Step 4) Go for it!
Step 5) Once you’re finished: catch your breath, drink some water, and shake it out.
Continue reading Give me 4 minutes and I’ll give you 4+ hours of Fat Burning
You wanna know how to to burn more calories? You sure? Because what I’m about to share with you isn’t gonna be easy.
After a few rounds of this, your legs will literally feel like they’re on fire, which is really quite ironic since they’ll be dripping with sweat. Your lungs will have you believe you’re a fire-breathing dragon and your heart will feel like it’s pumping battery acid. And if you’re a redhead like me, your entire cranium may morph into a fireball for a few minutes afterward. It’s ok, I’ve survived this many times myself – just don’t inhale too much smoke. Now, if that wasn’t enough already, the good news is that you’ll also be burning calories and burning fat like a pro. If that sounds like a fun time, then you and I share some of the same character flaws, and this will be right up your alley.
You won't be smiling when you're done with this. Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/
I know, I know. You’re probably looking for a top 10 list of suggestions for how to burn more calories – with neatly arranged bullet points and liberal use of the bold feature. But the truth is that burning calories isn’t exactly rocket-science, folks. Everything we do burns calories. Eating burns calories. Digestion burns calories. I know it’s hard to believe, but sleeping and even just thinking burn calories, too. So, if you’re looking for advice like “drink more caffeinated green tea and chew gum all day,” then look elsewhere sweetie-pie. This place is reserved for men and women of resolve. There are no wusses in this corner.
Continue reading How to Burn More Calories Than a Triathlete on Adrenaline