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Frontline 05-21-2006 09:51 AM

HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training Overview
This thread is meant to be an overview of HIIT Training comprised from a collection of HIIT article summaries. I have taken what I feel is the best information from other sources and combined it in one easy to reference source on HIIT. I do not take credit for any of this information and links to the original sources can be found for more detailed information.

What is HIIT Training?

HIIT training, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training, is one of the best methods for fat loss and muscle retention. HIIT training is not new, but is a form a interval training which has been used for many years. HIIT training is the best way to burn fat without burning muscle. Studies have shown that long endurance activates such as aerobics cause muscle catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue). HIIT training allows you to lose the fat without losing muscle. If you need proof all you need to do is look at sprinters to see that they have low body fat and lean, defined bodies.

HIIT and interval training are very similar, the only difference is the intensity in which they are done. So what is interval training? Interval training is a varying of intensities within one workout , where you add a low intensity bout with a higher intensity bout. HIIT training is a very high intensity bout with a lower intensity bout. You can perform your interval training in many ways, and you should use variety. You can perform it on a stationary bike, stairmaster, mountain bike, local track, etc. Change it up often.

* Below is a very good article on HIIT by Christian Thibadeau over at T-Nation entitled "Running man: Energy-system Work to get Lean and Mean." This is only part of the entire article. To see the entire article by Christian please visit here.

Losing Fat
To get very lean and muscular you must have pretty much everything in order, from diet to rest to training. While a proper strength training program will help you get lean, it's really hard to get a high degree of definition without some form of "road work," unless you're genetically gifted for leanness.

As I already mentioned, I'm not a fan of low-intensity cardio work. While it's adequate for fat loss, I feel it can have a negative effect on strength and ultimately muscle mass. Interval training and/or long distance sprints are optimal to maximize fat loss while retaining muscle mass.

Gaining Muscle
No, I haven't dropped a barbell on my head! I really do suggest including energy-system work even if your main goal is to gain muscle. The reason is simple: to gain a lot of muscle you must consume a lot of food; this will lead to great size gains but also some fat gains. With energy-system work, you'll be able to minimize the amount of fat you gain while trying to pile on slabs of new muscle.

To accomplish this goal, we want to do just enough energy-system work to decrease fat storage, but not so much as to slow down muscle gains. The most important variable to play with in this case is the frequency of training. More on that later.

Athletic Performance
I've seen a lot of strong, fast and powerful athletes, but believe it or not, most of them aren't well conditioned. As a result, they're not able to utilize a large part of their potential for a long period of time. Ultimately, at the end of a football drive, a hockey shift, or anything similar, the athlete who can use the most of his capacities will win.

Most sports have a very important anaerobic/high-intensity component. Sadly, this is probably underdeveloped in most athletes! Having a super effective anaerobic energy system will give any athlete a huge advantage.
Now, I'm going to give you three possible methods to use for getting defined and conditioned: 400-meter runs, interval running, and my personal favorite, interval build-up running (IBUR).

400-Meter Running
I discovered the high fat-burning potency of 400 meter sprints without really looking for it. I use a lot of 400m running with my hockey players, mostly because it develops the energy system they require the most during a game. However, I quickly noticed how lean they were getting shortly after starting 400m runs. They were not only getting leaner but stronger!
I then experimented with the 400m for fat-loss purposes and found time after time how efficacious it truly was. To this day I still believe that few things can match up with 400m runs for fat loss.

Editor's Note: For mathematically impaired Americans who never ran track in high school, 400 meters is one lap around a standard track.

I recommend using 400-meter sprints once per week at first as it's very hard work! However, some of my athletes use up to three sessions per week, two being the norm. The following table will give you some basic guidelines:

Click for larger version
*RI = Rest Interval

Interval Running
Interval running is another great way of burning body fat without jeopardizing your efforts to gain muscle and strength. It combines low-intensity and high-intensity work for a very large fat-burning effect. Basically you'll alternate between slow-pace running (slow jog) and fast-pace running (sprint).

This form of training is a bit less intense and stressful than 400-meter sprints. It can be started at a frequency of twice per week, building-up to three or four times per week for maximum fat loss. Stay with two weekly sessions if you're trying to build muscle.

A good program to use is illustrated in the following table:
Interval Build-Up Running (IBUR)
This is my personal favorite fat-burning strategy. IBUR is based on many of the same principles as regular interval training, but with each cycle (or each interval), the duration of the sprint and jog phases increase in length.
This is the workout I used myself three times per week and it led to a marked decrease in body fat. It may not be the most specific method available for athletes, but if all you're interested in is fat loss, give IBUR a try. You won't be sorry!

Here's an example:

Fitting It In

I recommend you only use one of those three methods in a training block. If you want to use all three methods I suggest using the following periodized approach (modify the volume according to your level):
Along with proper dieting, this program can help get you into top shape for summer, improve your athletic performance, and even help you minimize fat gain while on a mass program. Get ready to get ripped to shreds when the snow melts!

Frontline 05-21-2006 10:08 AM

* This is a good list of sample programs by Maki Riddington at WannaBeBig. To see his entire HIIT article please go here.

The Programs

Iíve listed below a number of different ways HIIT can be incorporated and performed so that the most can be made out of each session. Even if itís quality youíre after, sometimes quantity is just as important.

Warm-up is crucial. Make sure you perform some motions that move the specific joints used in the movement through their range. For example, grabbing a sport ball or a medicine ball and going through a wide variety of movements such as bending at the hips, knees, shoulders, elbows and wrists continuously for five to eight minutes will serve as an effective warm-up. Once this has been completed you can move on to the type of HIIT youíll be performing.

Elliptical Trainer: For those of you who suffer from joint problems, an elliptical machine can be a godsend. If your club/gym happens to have a couple of pieces that come with arms this exercise can be all the more effective as it can now involve your upper body. Be forewarned though-- watching a heavily muscled lifter furiously pumping their arms and legs every 20-60 seconds for 10-15 minutes can be a pretty amusing display.

Stair-Climber: If you work in a building that has a long flight of stairs, then you know very well just how hard climbing flights of stairs can be. Set the stair-climber at the most difficult level and attempt to keep the pedals from touching the floor. Once youíve finished the interval, get off and walk around until itís time to go again. Legs of steel perhaps, try stepping on your tippy toes.

Treadmill Work: Running on the treadmill is not as effective as running outdoors due to the lack of intensity that can be achieved on a treadmill. A treadmill, nevertheless, can still do its job well. One way to really utilize this piece of equipment is to do walking lunges on the steepest grade for 30 seconds at 1.5-2.0 miles an hour. Rest 30 seconds, and repeat 5-10 times. If thatís not enough for you, speed things up or grab some dumbbells.

Running Lines: On a basketball court or a field, mark out 5 lines. Each one should be about 3 feet apart from one another. Run to each line and back to the starting point. Once you have run to each line and back, stop and rest for 1 minute and then repeat this 3-6 times. Change of pace perhaps? Try running the lines backwards.

Uphill Sprints: Sprint up a hill and then walk or jog very slowly downhill as your period of recovery. Repeat the sprints 4-8 times. You can do the hill sprints with the exception of running backwards up the hill and walking forwards down.

Skipping Rope: Skip for a minute, then rest a minute, and repeat 10 times. If you want to show off, throw in some combinations.

Side Laterals: Set up two cones or markers and side step them for 30 seconds as quickly as possible trying to minimize the time your feet are in contact with the ground. Rest 1 minute, and repeat 6-10 times.

Weight Training: A study conducted by Dr Tabata in Japan showed that ďsix to eight very hard twenty second intervals with ten second rest periodsĒ are very effective for increasing both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. (13) Putting this into practice, an individual would perform a movement that utilizes multiple muscle groups. Movements such as the Squat or Deadlift are a good place to start. Using approximately 50% of your 1RM perform as many repetitions as you can in twenty seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat six to eight more times. Be warned, this method was used on elite Japanese speed skaters and was a very painful experience. This method is not only great at fat burning but will teach you how to stay mentally focused while enduring a large amount of pain.

Bike: Itís probably the most boring piece of equipment to use in the gym, but it can be quite effective. If youíre feeling brave, try Dr Tabataís method (as mentioned above). The experiment Dr Tabata performed used bikes, which gives you a feeling just how tough this method really is.

Sled Dragging: Westside disciples should be very familiar with this exercise. Simply load up the sled and drag it to your heartís content. If youíre up for a challenge, drag the sled up a hill.

Dumbbell/Plate Toss: Grab a weight thatís heavy enough for you to throw maybe a foot or so and throw it. Using an under hand stance with the legs in a sumo position thrust the hips as you push the legs into the ground and swing the arms up into the air while releasing the weight. Walk over, and pick up the weight and repeat.

BG5150 06-24-2006 03:32 PM

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Playmaker7 08-12-2006 04:34 PM

I've been using HIIT for a while now and although I seem to be losing fat, not a whole lot is coming off. My diet seems to be in order and I'm putting in the work for cardio. However, I'm definitly lacking in rest. I do HIIT twice a day on the tredmille, usually something different each time. I just don't feel right unless I do run two times a day. Should I be running less? Would that increase my fat loss?

Darkhorse 08-12-2006 05:31 PM


Originally Posted by Playmaker7
I've been using HIIT for a while now and although I seem to be losing fat, not a whole lot is coming off. My diet seems to be in order and I'm putting in the work for cardio. However, I'm definitly lacking in rest. I do HIIT twice a day on the tredmille, usually something different each time. I just don't feel right unless I do run two times a day. Should I be running less? Would that increase my fat loss?

If your diet is truely in order, than I'd advise you to cut an additional 250 calories for a while. It's the little things that make a difference. Give that a few weeks and you should start to notice something.

As for HIIT, I think it has it's merits, but you may also want to consider doing some low intensity, long duration cardio mixed in there. Possibly doing the low intensity when you wake up on an empty stomach (if you believe it matters), and the HIIT at the end of the day or visa versa. I don't like using a treadmill for anything other than a fast paced walk on a incline.

On more thing to consider. Whether everyone knows it or not, HIIT can and will drain your CNS same as weight training can. If you're doing HIIT twice a day and weightlifting in between (not sure if you are), I'd be careful not to overtrain yourself. If you do HIIT first thing in the morning, it's enough to kickstart your metabolism and turn your body into a fat-burning furnace for the rest of the day.

Playmaker7 08-12-2006 06:23 PM

I think my diet is in order. Its it order that I don't eat a lot, but I probably don't eat enough. I'm around 1200 to 1500 calories a day. Considering the amount of lifting and cardio I do in a day, that probably isn't enough, even though I'm cutting.

This is a sample diet/day of mine.

I wake up around 10:00, 10:30 and then do some kind of HIIT that varies in time from 10 to 16 minutes.

My first meal is Turkey Sandwhich on multigrain bread or Tuna fish on multigrain bread w/ small pretzels and some kind of fruit (Banana, watermelon, cucumber)
Or I eat about a pound of chicken

This is my first weight training session. I use my Bowflex.

Then I'll usually have 1 scoop of whey and a Zone Perfect Bar

For dinner I'll have whatever mom is making that night which is usually chicken w/ nice or pasta, occasionally a lean cut of stake, and when I'm just making for myself usually a Philly Cheese Steak Lean Pocket or a peanut butter sandwhich w/ some kind of fruit and pretzels. Also turkey and tunafish sandwhiches, and chicken could also be had for dinne.

2nd weight training session with Bowflex select Tect dumbells and a different kind of HIIT.

After lifting I take one scoop of creatin and then after running I might take another scoop of whey.

Maybe later I'll have another Zone Perfect Bar or some kind of other healthy snack.

I usually drink about a galon + of water a day. Just about every day I'll have a vitamen water and I have a diet coke with lunch every day.

EricT 08-12-2006 07:57 PM

So bascally 4 "high intensity" workouts a day and very little food. I'd say prob overtraining.

I think definitely not more than one HIIT workout and one weight workout. What are you doing so wrong in your first one you feel you need a second? :)

However you did say the weight was coming off. So I wouldn't obsess about it. Really fast weight loss isn't always so great anyway. Much more likely to put on the weight quick again. Slow and steady is good.

Playmaker7 08-12-2006 08:52 PM

I have a sick obsession with working out. I don't know what it is, I just enjoy it. I'm gonna try some new things.

Thanks for the help.

EricT 12-29-2006 03:12 PM

I posted a three part, in-depth article on interval training in the training articles section.

Understanding the Science Behind Interval Training by Micheal Kurilla

EricT 02-14-2007 10:27 AM

Here is the other I posted earlier:

Myths Under the Microscope

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