Archive for HIIT

The People Demand Answers!! January 2013

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by razorsedgeperformance

I’ve decided to start a question and answer post to change things up a little bit. This will allow more different topics to be answered without necessarily getting into the depth that a full post/article would require. That being said, please feel free to email in questions, use the comment box, post on our facebook page or send us a tweet. This installment is made up of either questions I’ve been asked lately or things that I’ve heard that need correcting. Enjoy.


On the cardio machine, the fat loss setting picks low paced cardio; Is that really the best way to burn fat??

Fat loss is an interesting topic because there are a number of different ways of achieving it. To decide what’s BEST is a whole other story. Let’s get into some basics about energy systems to answer this one. I’m putting it in layman’s terms so if you’re another coach, try to keep this in mind. There are 3 main energy systems that our body uses for energy. These are: the phosphagen system, the glycolitic system, the oxidative system. The phosphagen system uses ATP stores to produce energy used in extremely short and high intensity movements (think sprint or heavy lift). The glycolitic system uses glycogen stores (carbs essentially) to produce energy for moderate intensity exercise and kicks in after ATP up to about 20 or 30 minutes. The Oxidative system uses fatty acids to produce energy for long, low intensity movements. So technically, this setting is correct for activating the oxidative system. However, if we do bouts of High Intensity interval training (HIIT) then we will burn through all 3 energy systems. Your body can only produce so much ATP in such a short amount of time [note: supplementing creatine can help with this], so your body will be forced to jump to the next system when the first runs dry. Thus, we can actually start activating the glycolitic system earlier with intervals than with slow paced cardio. So it still will burn fat, but intervals will allow a much better, more complete energy system response.

If I want to get faster, should I just do interval running?

Following up on the post above, interval work should be meant for conditioning or fat loss work. What people need to realize about speed is that it is extremely technical and also extremely demanding on the body. In order to truly increase your speed you need a structured program and a qualified coach to help you with this. With your coach you can work on the two determinants of speed: output and direction. When you are fatigued during intervals, both of these values would be negatively affected; Your output will be significantly dimished and fatigue will adversely affect your coordination. More often than not I see (from others) intervals as continuous repetition of bad mechanics. So in closing, use intervals for conditioning work but high quality, high output repetitions are necessary to increase speed.


When doing weights, should I progress up to heavy weights or start heavy (over the course of multiple sets)?

To lift a given weight, your body will only try to recruit as many muscle fibers as it thinks it needs. Over the course of multiple sets, those fibers will become fatigued and you will no longer get efficient functionality out of them. So that being said, if you start with 20lb dumbbells and then discover after each of the first two sets that you need to go up by 5, you may not be able to lift 35lbs efficiently by the third set. This is why tracking your weights is important. On the first set start as high as you think you can (realistically) for that rep range because you can always decrease the weight as you get fatigued, plus you know that you’ve also recruited a maximal number of muscle fibers for that rep range.

Disclaimer: Do warm-up sets to get used to the movement and the loading if you are working with more than body weight, then start counting your sets after you’ve progressed through these warmup sets!

That’s it for this installment of questions, if you have any questions you’d like answered, again, use twitter, Facebook, email or a comment below.

It’s About Getting Better!


HIIT it for Fat Loss!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , on December 10, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance

Whenever I get a new client who’s looking to lose fat (and who isn’t), the same question often comes up: so how much cardio should I be doing?? Something about the word cardio just turns me right off. It sounds so boring and catabolic. The common practice of hitting the eliptical or treadmill for 40 minutes or more can help to burn calories, but will also have a negative effect on lean body mass. In order to provide the body with energy, you will eventually turn to body fat stores, but muscle will also need to be broken down for amino acids. This is very counterproductive towards Body Fat percentage. The result is that you create a smaller version of the same person! Sure you lost 10lbs, but you’re still 30% BF. Our goal in creating a lean efficient body is to increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat. Let us take a look at track and field to give us a good example of what we’re talking about. The athletes which have the lowest amounts of body fat and the highest amounts of muscle are the sprinters. The athletes running 100m, 200m, and 400m are the epitome of lean machines. It’s no secret how they’ve become this way, weight training and interval training! What about the long distance runners, who run for hours at a time? Do they have the body you’re looking for?

Which would you rather be?

For certain athletes, interval training is not so much a preferrential choice they make, but a standard training protocol for their sport. Any athlete who uses repeated bouts of high intensity exercise can benefit from interval training and should probably already be doing them. That being said, there is a place for interval training in everyone’s workout. You don’t have to be Usain Bolt to try and use the advantages of HIIT.

What is HIIT exactly?

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training, is a training method where an individual does a short period of anaerobic work followed by a  period of rest and then repeats this for anywhere up to 10 or 12 minutes. This can be done with a number of different pieces of equipment or tools; sprinting, spinning, skipping, rowing, swimming and even ballistic type resistance training can all be used for interval training. The important part is to make sure your “sprint” interval is near maximal effort. This is why intervals are difficult to do on your own, most individuals have difficulty pushing themselves that hard with no one watching. IF you can man up and get it done, you’ll be that much better for it, trust me.

Why do HIIT?

My first introduction with the science behind HIIT came from a strength training symposium at the University of Western Ontario. During this symposium I saw a great presentation on a study they were doing using 30 second sprints followed by 4 minutes of rest. They compared their results with a protocol of 40min of steady state cardio. The results were incredible, not only were the interval subjects working out for far less (only 4-6 sprints of 30s each), but they were achieving the same results in conditioning. In fact, some of their subjects reported improvements in a 5km run, a 10km bike and a 40km bike. This goes to show that repeated bouts of anaerobic exercise can increase aerobic performance, but the opposite is not true. Sitting on an elliptical for 40 min WILL NOT improve your sprinting. HIIT utilizes something called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). Essentially, when you’re depleting your body of oxygen using intervals and not allowing it to fully replenish, your body works at absorbing oxygen for hours after your workout. This oxygen is used for a number of bodily functions which increase metabolism. Studies have shown that the increased metabolic rate can exist upwards of 13hrs! It’ll stick with you longer than that greasy hamburger you had at lunch! This also means that when your cardio machine spits out the number of calories burned, it is only telling half the story. The 40 minutes of steady-state cardio will elicit a much larger number of calories burned, but once you get off the machine, your body stops. With HIIT, you are on the machine for a much shorter time frame, so it appears that you don’t burn that many calories. However, since your metabolism is jacked up for the rest of the day, you end up burning way more calories in the end.  

How do I do HIIT?

Doing HIIT can be very simple. For most of my clients I suggest a starting protocol of a 1:3 or 1:4 work to rest ratio and have them starting around 6-8 min total. For example, doing a 20sec sprint followed by 40sec rest, repeated 6 times. If you’ve been able to increase your time and are still looking for more, then start ramping up the speed of the sprint. For advanced practitioners, take a shot at the tabata protocol! Tabata is a protocol which uses 20sec sprint with a 10s rest for a total of 4min. Sure 4 mins doesn’t seem like much now, but if you go hard enough you’ll understand.

With the holidays approaching, many people are going to be looking for a way to counteract unwanted weight gain. Try throwing in 2-3 HIIT sessions per week to really improve your conditioning and your body comp!!

Even during the christmas break,

It’s About Getting Better!

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