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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).
 
Anyway.
 
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)
Repeat
 
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.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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