Tag Archives: Cardio

What the HIIT?

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya
The myth of HIIT.
As popular as the coined term is, I can count on one hand the number of people over the last year I’ve personally witnessed actually doing a high intensity interval session.
It is a sad truth that many people confuse pushing themselves at a moderate pace with no rest as HIIT.
That is not HIIT, it’s more akin to basic endurance work.
It is in this knowledge I feel no guilt about telling those who champion this method that they’re not doing what they think.
Let us break down the different style of interval training based on the literature and what energy systems it is playing with.
Energy Systems & Timings
Alactic Anaerobic – (ATP-CP) – 1 to 12 seconds – Immediate
Lactic Anaerobic – (Glycolytic – Fast/Slow) – 60 to 120 seconds – Intermediate
Aerobic – 120 seconds to potentially hours – Long term
WE all have a limited amount of maximal power efforts, typically lasting for a fraction of a second or a few seconds rely entirely on stored ATP.
The limitation to continued effort lies in the availability of ATP and our own ability to re-synthesise it during training with insufficient rest, hence why some strength/performance coaches recommend up to 15min rest between these efforts. Fairly logical, however not suitable for the average joe.
This being said, that is the price of a high intensity effort.
Moving on, if we sustain out effort (as mentioned above) after a few seconds, CP is called upon to replenish the rapidly dwindling ATP as best it can. The CP contribution reaches a peak approximately around about 5-7 seconds (this is where most start to lose significant output capability, they’ve peaked), it is around this point the oxygen-independent glycolysis has already begun to start.
If we are to follow this then true HIIT would require people to stop here, rest and aim to repeat this effort, or at least as close to it as possible, alas many keep going because of misguided ‘Insta-Bro/Hoe’ information.
Persisting in to a continued effort (while admirable is now hitting a different energy system) maximal force development no longer becomes possible and muscular endurance becomes the dominant component because that’s how the body works.
Don’t get me wrong, it is in the next few minutes that a lot of people can attain great benefits from because for most everyday tasks that require effort we rarely ant them to last longer than 2-3minutes. While not quite HIIT, more anaerobic intervals it’s still very useful (most will still call this HIIT by the way).
Strenuous activity which lasts approximately up to 30 seconds starts the oxygen-independent glycolysis system to rule the roost, however with appropriate rest intervals it help will prevent the build-up of blood lactate allowing for more repeated efforts of this style.
If we keep going the more oxygen-independent glycolysis reaches its peak after about 30-40 seconds (in most, this can of course be trained to higher thresholds), and after about 90-120 seconds its contribution becomes minimal as it is replaced by the oxygen-dependent glycolysis.
^^ This is the fast/slow glycolysis bit.
It is at this point where people confuse HIIT with what they end up doing which is to keep going at a less than ‘high intensity’ pace wth allows the exercise intensity to be kept below the blood lactate threshold or at least allow intra-exercise adequate recovery to be allow allowed, kinda.
As such the lactate and protons will be removed (at the same rate as their production for the most part) so that prolonged muscle activity becomes possible.
^^ This is where people claim to do HIIT for extended periods of time and while nobel in their idea, it’s no longer what they think it is.
Knowing this becomes the reason behind using intervals other than the popular on that trolls social media, such as fartlek, basic interval training, interval circuit training (strength circuits, power circuits, anaerobic circuits etc), which allow for recovery and repeated efforts of muscular work.
In doing this you can stay in the glycolysis side of training (up to 120, perhaps 180 seconds of sustained work efforts), which while not technically HIIT, it yields more benefit to the majority of people.
The work to rest periods for this would be the classic
– 1-1
– 1-2
– 1-3
So 3min on 3min off, or 3min on 6min off, etc.
^^ In the rest you may do some corrective work or other endeavours so the time is utilised effectively.
Many typical gym goers will wither away in fear when seeing this because they have been Indoctrinated in to the realms of –
“You must be constantly working! Keep going! Never stop moving! It’s not going to count unless you DIE!!!!!”
Which is just silly to be perfectly honest and you can see that it just doesn’t work for the majority of people because they have low levels of overall CV, strength, and poor body composition.
Does this mean if you’re one of the above with that mindset that you’ve been wasting your time in your training so far?
Potentially yes, yes it does, however that doesn’t mean you can change it now and actually become more productive in your training sessions.
Believe it or not you will get more out of doing less better then more worse.
Trust me, I’ve been the person who did more and it didn’t do me better in the long run.
So, your turn.
What style in HIIT training do you do and is it actually HIIT of some hybridisation that is something else entirely?
Leave your thoughts below.

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One move to rule them all

The kettlebell snatch, what a great move.
Do you know if there was only time and space enough to do one movement several times a week this would be a high contender.
Here is why:
– Epic cardiovascular hit
– A true test of mental fortitude
– Power, Strength, Endurance & Muscle is the consequence
– Nothing in the posterior chain gets missed
– Posture, core and grip strength are built
– It’s fun, plus you can get in some quality work in sub 5min
What is not to like about a movement that can do all of that in such a short space of time.
You will also find that depending on the style of technique used it can affect the results you get, commonly you will find two main styles.
The first will yield slightly more strength, the second more CV due to it being a movement of efficiency.
Personally I’d advise you utilise both.
If you have never done this before than I would suggest you hire a coach to teach you, someone from StrongFirst (or RKC) or an active Kettlebell Sport competitor would be my recommendations for a high quality of instructor.
For the sake of thought theory, let us say that you’re going to do the above movement because you life dictates that all you can do for a period of time, say 50 days straight.
Yes, I said 50 days straight.
How can you train everyday and not tear up your hands or injure yourself?
That’s easy, you wave the volume of each session along with the length and you may also do well to see each day as a practice rather than a ‘workout’ because people seem to link the latter word with killing themselves; this is not conducive to long term progress.
Here is how you can structure a short cycle of days that repeat.
Day 1 – Long Session, 45min, light bell, aim for 200+ reps
Day 2 – Short Intense practice – 5min, AMRAP
Day 3 – 30min session, heavy kettlebell ladders 1-2-3-4-5
Day 4 – Short Intense practice – 10min, AMRAP
Day 5 – 20min Session – medium weight/volume (tech work)
Also, don’t be afraid to have a session that consists of singles and perhaps doesn’t go beyond 25 reps each arm, it’s okay, technical sessions such as that allow a great amount of recovery while still keeping your body in the groove.
You don’t have to kill yourself each time you go in the gym, maybe once or twice a week going hell for leather is good, any more might not be conducive to long term health of performance.
Essentially you auto-regulate the training and go by feel.
Can you periodise it, yep, that will take some planning though and while that is my person approach some people don’t have the inclination to do such things. As such you’d do well to have a training diary and simply track what you’re doing.
Follow a Heavy-Light-Medium-LIght-Repeat approach.
Try the above for 50days, trust me, it will be worth it.

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4 Little lung busters that also get you strong.

Morining All,
Given the nice weather it’s understandable that people want to shift unwanted fat.
Many also want some decent levels of muscle too.
Here are some suggestions from me to help you with both, be warned however, they are not as easy as you’d think.
They play in to the anaerobic nature of training, this will help by creating a large oxygen debt and have a positive effect on not only your VO2 Max, Strength, Calorie Expenditure but also some small increase in EOPC as well.
If you want to dig in to this here is a place to start:
Now it’s time for the suggested sessions 🙂
1 – Litvinov’
A1 – Front Squat x4-8
A2 – 400-800m sprint
Rest 1-5min, repeat 3 times.
I find higher rep front squats are great with double kettlebells, while with a barbell you’re better of sticking to 5 and under.
Sprint as in run, however if you have not running track feel free to sub this for rowing, watt bike etc.
2 – Flaming Death
(No idea where that name came from)
A1 – Sand Bag Shoulder Carry (sprint if you can) 30-50m
Drop, swap sides, run rack.
Rest 2min, repeat 5 times.
If you don’t have a sandbag that’s cool, just find something awkward to pick up an drop on your shoulder.
3 – Tabata Fun
A1 – Thrusters: 20seconds on, 10seconds off, 8 times
Rest 2-4min, repeat twice more if your form hold up
Double kettlebells work a treat for this, dumbbells are okay, bar is good, awkward objects are awesome, just watch your form. Aim for 4-8 reps per round (20 seconds).
4 – Homemade Highland Games
A1 – Single Arm Kettlebell Clean & Shoulder Throw x100m (alternating sides)
Rest 2min, repeat 3-5times
The single arm clean is easy, it’s the catch that tricks people, here is a nice little video from the Kettlebell Kings explaining how:
^^ Once you catch the bell here, launch it as far forwards as you can, like a shot-putter would. Repeat alternating arms, start on your weaker side.
These can be used as finishers or even stand alone sessions if you really wanted to give them some oomph.
All are easy on paper, however in practice you will find this not the case.

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Cardio,our friend in the right amount.


If you want an optimally performing body you will need to have it in your training program.

Morning All,

CV training is loved by some as much as it is feared by others and as such there is a massive divide when it comes to its importance.

Some fear they will lose their hard earn muscle if they do even 5min of it, while others think their lungs will disintegrate if they do not do 60min every day. Both fallacies are wrong, you can blend CV with weights and keep an impressive amount of muscle, you can also add weight to your regular CV and still keep your pace/fitness without any compromise, let’s look at how.

If you’re in a calorie deficit and aiming to keep 4xRT (resistance training) sessions per week, given the intensity of each lifting day your body may respond better to LISS, simply due to the energy systems used predominantly when lifting weights, along with the fatigue you’d be having to manage. Adding in the extra intensity of intervals may compromise your recovery.

Let’s say you instead aim for 2xRT sessions per week, you may be abel to handle 2-3 interval sessions and manage the fatigue well. This would mean that you can get can over all more athletic training program going.

It is worth remembering that for optimal fat loss you will need a caloric deficit no matter what you do, the style of cardio you choose will be down to individual needs and preference/enjoyment.
The use of CV to help you create the necessary caloric deficit is a very good idea. You will find people occasionally try and do it through diet alone, not smart. A blend of the two would be the best and more optimal route to take.

At the start you would possibly have 2-3xRT and 2-3XInterval Sessions with a minor caloric deficit, which would adapt over time to 2-3xRT with 2-3XLISS to help manage fatigue as the calorie deficit from food increases and recovery start to become harder keep in the optimal zone.

All in all you can do which every style of CV yo enjoy, you just have to make sure you have a balanced program with it.


Cardio Bunnies, add in some weights, you’ll get a better body for it.

Meat Heads, add in some cardio, you’ll get a better body for it.

If you train 4 days per week here is a simple structure to blend both RT & CV:

Monday – RT – Loading (2-6RM), 25 reps per lift
Tuesday – CV – LISS – 70-80% Heart Rate Reserve 45-60min
Wednesday – Off – Stretching/foam rolling
Thursday – RT – Loading (6-10RM), 50 reps per lift
Friday – Off – Stretching/foam rolling
Saturday – Interval Training – 90%+ Heart Rate Reserve 30-45min – intervals of your choice (example: 60sec sprint, 120 sec rest)
Sunday – Off – Stretching/foam rolling

Simple, effective, easy on paper, not so easy if you put in 100% effort.


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Morning Guys,
Have you stalled on a lift or a CV element?
A lot of people get caught in trying to bring up one lift or specific elements of their CV training only to neglect the bigger picture, which ultimately stalls their  overall progress.
If we took Bench Press for example, it will only go so far if that is all you train, perhaps your close grip bench/Incline/Overhead are all dramatically weak and you avoid them because they hurt your ego. This is a problem, taking a hit to the ego and brining up those three will have some carryover to the BP.
This can also happen when it comes to training CV elements.
You enjoy running and want to get faster but you find you just can’t break a certain time or increase your VO2 Max, usually because you’ve now become incredibly efficient at your chosen task (this is great, however it also means you need some spice added). To change things up you might add in a 2K sprint row which leaves you breathless because you’re not adapted to it, yet 🙂 however that means you can now start progressing again.
In short, hitting weaker lifts, or unfamiliar CV protocols/equipment will help you in the long run, it’s worth the ego sacrifice to gain that extra strength or lung capacity.
Neglecting your weaker elements of training in favour of the ones that boost your ego will eventually lead you to stagnation. While it’s understandable that no one wants to look like they are struggling it’s far worse to be known as that person who trains all the time and does’t look and different than they did, or is the one who is not any stronger or fitter than they were last year. I’m sure you all know someone who fits that bill and if you don’t… It might be you.
It’s okay to have weak areas because they mean you can improve and keep progressing.
Embrace your weakness and make it a strength.

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Fast Track Fat Loss

There is a common question that arises on what is better for fat loss out of these two styles of cardio training (weight training for fat loss of another topic for a different day):
– Steady State
– Sprinting (interval style training)
Now while they both work the physiological response your body will exhibit can be dramatically different. This is simply due to the different energy systems/pathways that will be used and how the body adapt to each stimulus.
Steady state cardio, also know as Continuous Training or Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) is great for beginners and those who are looking to maintain some level of heart health. The typical or main energy system used for this style of training is the aerobic system which leans towards the use of fat for its primary fuel during the activity.
Wait… It uses burns fat for its fuel? That’s what we want right?
Yes, however there lasting effect of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) is very low and you will not continue to burn many calories after your workout, so if you burn 300 calories running for an hour you might burn an extra 50 (for example) after that due to EPOC, but that’s about it. This means you will need to keep up your daily running to burn X-amount of calories, you will also not gain much in the way of benefit to your VO2 Max (how much oxygen your body can use from it’s blood). You will also not get much int he way of muscular adaptation in the way of force production and lean muscle tissue gain, in fact you may even lose muscle mass and this is bad because muscle is what keep your metabolism high and you don’t want to lose any of it.
So while steady state cardio is good if you have the time and mental fortitude to do it (low intensity cardio for hours can be incredibly dull) you will get results from it, provided you’re in a caloric deficit that is.
This leads us on to Sprinting.
Sprinting is a different beast, apart from your effort levels being higher and you achieving a higher % of your heart rate reserve (HRR), your body is also required to produce more force in the form of muscular contraction which will lead to potential hypertrophic gains to the areas required for effort (think full body for something like rowing or swimming and how muscular they are).
The other added benefits of this style of training is linked in to the metabolic pathway/energy system used (ATP/PC/LA) which cause a massive surge in anabolic hormones which not only help muscular adaptation but force your body to increase its VO2 Max because of the sever lack of oxygen, meaning the oxygen dept you create in the workout will have a profound effect in increasing EPOC. You will often find that a sprint/interval session can lead to you burning say 200-330 calories in a session, much the same as steady state but due to EPOC/Oxygen debt created you will more than likely continue to burn a number of extra calories for around 24hours (possibly more) afterwards. How many you will burn will depend on your amount of lean muscle mass and the size of oxygen debt created.
The obvious downside of training this way at this intensity is the cumulative fatigue you will amass and if not managed correctly you will end up injured and going backwards. Effective as it is, there is always a price to pay if you do too much.
In conclusion to the age old question of which is better for fat loss there is a clear winner in my opinion, that winner is sprinting/interval training. However you need to program it correctly and what you’d find is that combining the two will give you the best result (specificity is the key to everything).
Here is an example of how you might combine the two to help you hit the ACSM guidelines of 150min CV per week (250-300 is considered better).
Total time includes warm up/mobility and warm down. As for HR targets you can get technical or use RPE, the choice is yours.*
Monday – 45min – Hill Sprinting – 1-2 ratio work/rest – 10 sprints 1min each, 90%+ HRR or RPE 9+.
Tuesday – 60min Swimming – 45min of solid swimming at 70%+ HRR or RPE 7+
Wednesday – Off – Foam roll and a gentle 30min walk
Thursday – 45min – Straight Sprinting – 1-1 work to rest ratio – 15 sprints 1min each 85%+ HRR or RPE 8.5+.
Friday – 60min – Rowing – 45min solid rowing at 70%+ HRR or RPE 7+
Saturday – Off – Foam roll and a gentle 30min walk
Sunday – Off – Foam roll and a gentle 30min walk
As you can see this is a simple structure for guide, it’s not gospel, just an option.

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Want to know a secret?

Can I share a secret with you?

It’s a really good one.


Okay, it’s not really a secret but it is something that both men and woman can benefit from.

I will have two options for you to try that you can alternate every other day.

Each workout not only builds a strong wide back, impressive arms and muscular shoulder, but also helps burn fat and improve your cardio.

These workouts are for people who already have mastered the basics of the Double Kettlebell Snatch and have at least 5 strict.

Depending on your level of training, or where you think you are here are the requirements:

Using a 1-2-3-4-5 rep ladder scheme:

Level 1 – 2 Ladders
Level 2 – 3 Ladders
Level 3 – 5 Ladders

Kettlebell weights:

Level 1: M – 24kg, F – 12kg
Level 2: M – 28kg, F – 16kg
Level 3: M – 32kg, F – 20kg

Number 1:

Warm Up – 100 Kettlebell Swings, 50 Press Ups or Dips

A1 – Double Kettlebell Snatch
A2 – Pull Up – Medium Width Supinated Grip (these can be weighted)
Rest 60-90 seconds after a full ladder.
B1 – Ab Roll Out – One Ladder Only.

Warm Down – Stretching areas for development (often hips/chest/Lats)

Number 2:

Warm Up – 100 Kettlebell Swings, 50 Press Ups or Dips

A1 – Double Clean & Press
A2 – Double Kettlebell Squat
Rest 60-90 seconds after a full ladder.
B1 – Ab Roll Out – One Ladder Only.

Warm Down – Stretching areas for development (often hips/chest/Lats)

These look easy on paper but I can assure you that they are not. However if you successfully complete them and work your way up to level 3 on both ladder sets and weight used then you will not only be strong, but you will be very lean too.


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You Don’t Work Hard Enough…

Morning Guys,

Are you working hard enough when it comes to CV training?

Unless you know your target heart rates or what your true 7/8 on the RPE scale is then I’m guessing that’s a no.

I will often see people on the CV kit plodding along or even doing some ‘interval’ training while still being abel to hold a full conversation… This is a clear sign they are not working hard enough.

When it comes to cardio you ideally need set targets to work towards, you wouldn’t go in to the free weights area and not set your weights or their progressions week to week now would you?

Well… Some people won’t but those are the ones who get no results.

The best way to establish your target heart rate training zones is by the use of the Karvonen Formula, below I will give you the equation and the means to establish your correct intensity training zones. This way you will stay making some real progress.

You need your Resting Heart Rate – RHR (Ideally you will take this on 3 consecutive mornings just as you wake up to get a true reading).

For this example we shall say it’s 60bmp and the participant is 30 years old.

Now use this equation to workout your estimated Max Heart Rate – MHR.

Max Heart Rate = 206.9 – (.67 x AGE)

206.9 – 20.1 = 186.8 (we shall say 187bmp)

From there you now subtract your RHR from your MHR to get your Heart Rate Reserve – HHR.

187 – 60 = 127bmp.

The rest is easy.

You will now multiply your HRR by a percentage (60% = 0.6, 70%= 0.7 etc) and then add back in your RHR to get your Target Heart Rate – TGH.

127 * 0.7 = 88.9
88.9 + 60 = 148.9 (150bmp) this is your 70% training zone target which you would need to maintain at a constant pace if you were doing continuous or steady state training (more than your tough huh…).

If you were doing interval you would have 2 zones. One would be your woking target and the other would be active recovery.

127 * 0.6 = 76.2 (76bmp) + 60 = 136bmp
127 * 0.85 = 107.95 (108bmp) + 60 = 168bmp

Active Recovery – 60% 136bmp – 60-90 Seconds
Interval Training Zone – 85% 168bmp – 30 Seconds

So there you have it.

This is how you workout how hard you NEED to be working. I would suggest buying a heart rate monitor and planning a progressive program. That way you can follow it for 4-6 weeks and then reassess your resting heart rate to see if you’ve had any improvement.

2 continuous sessions (30min at 70%) and one interval session (20min, 30 seconds at 85% and then 60 seconds – 90 seconds recovery at 60%) per week should be sufficient to start.


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