Monday, February 21, 2011

High Intensity for Intense Gains: the Importance of HIIT

Preview article for - The Ultimate Lifting Experience. 

Ready to trim down for Spring Break and summer, and looking to drop some jaws (and panties, if that’s your thing) at the beach or pool? Don’t want to lose all your hard-earned, precious muscle mass that’s taken years to sculpt? Look no further. Catabolism - the breakdown in living organisms of more complex substances into simpler ones together with release of energy (which equates to your muscle mass being broken down and being used as fuel for your body) - generally occurs as your body is forced to expend ATP, the “energy currency” in a cell, for extended periods of time. 
Well, hell, you wouldn’t want that, would you!? You haven’t worked this hard to see your results squandered for the sake of fat loss! You’re not an Abercrombie model - you’re an athlete (or someone who aspires to resemble one). That said, in order to shed fat with minimal loss of muscle mass, one should keep low-intensity, long-distance cardio at a minimum. Instead, high-intensity interval training, HIIT, should be utilized for individuals with such goals. Take a minute to note the differences in body-types between a top distance runner - American Dathan Ritzenhein (below) - and top sprinter Jason Moots (below, farther).  Note the lean, wiry frame of Ritzenhein, forged through and tailored for performance in distance running. Next, look at the contrast that the muscular sprinter Smoots poses - a body forged through years of hard work, chalked full of lean, dense muscle mass that has surely benefitted from the anabolism that sprinting promotes.

“But what IS HIIT, and how do I perform it?”

High-intensity interval training is the primary method of speed and endurance training for nearly every athlete who plays sports that require explosiveness - something that is in direct correlation with strength, which, of course, is generally dictated by one’s muscle-mass to fat ratio. Sprinters, basketball, football and hockey players, fighters, wrestlers and a plethora of other types of athletes regularly utilize HIIT in order to keep their bodies in top shape. 

A typical HIIT session consists of running, jumping, or both. While the former of the two, running, is generally considered the most traditional form of HIIT, many top athletes utilize standing jump-sets, broad jumps, skips, and other various types of jumps. However, before delving into the various methods by which athletes utilize HIIT - many of which are advanced, specific to a certain sport, or both, let us first take a look at a couple basic forms of HIIT. 
For reference, let’s assume “jogging” means running at 60%, “sprinting” means running at 95-100%, “fast-jogging” refers to a speed between a jog and a sprint, at about 80% speed, and “slow-jogging” refers to about 40% speed.
Generic HIIT session - 
10 minute HIIT session:
30 seconds jogging 
30 seconds sprinting
30 seconds jogging
30 seconds sprinting... etc.
Continue alternating between jogging and sprinting every 30 seconds for 8 minutes, at which point you should jog for the remainder of your run, so as to slow your heartbeat, and allow for the lactic acid buildup in your muscles to dissipate. 
Generic HIIT session #2 - 
8 minute HIIT session:
30 seconds slow-jogging
30 seconds jogging
30 seconds fast-jogging
30 seconds sprinting
30 seconds slow-jogging.. etc.
Again, following your 8 minutes of brutality, allow your heart rate to slowly return to a normal state by walking for at least a couple minutes. 
Although the word “generic” often carries a negative connotation, don’t allow yourself to be put off from these HIIT session routines - sometimes, simple is better. While there are more advanced ways to perform HIIT training, a couple of which will be exemplified next, many top athletes and bodybuilders alike swear by the more “simple” HIIT (and weightlifting) routines. However, for some, simple is not enough. Let us take a look at some more advanced HIIT sets.
Advanced HIIT session - 
6 minute advanced HIIT session:
30 seconds high-knees
30 seconds “burpees”
30 seconds mountain climbers
30 seconds rest
Repeat 3 times. 
While this HIIT session - as can be said for HIIT as a whole - is primarily geared towards fat loss, it also incorporates some muscle-building elements, hence it being termed “advanced”. Rather than delve into detailed explanations of each exercise, allow fitness guru Brandon Carter to demonstrate this intense HIIT set.

This set is probably my personal favorite as it allows for whole-body fat loss and is extremely hard on one’s core, making for muscle gain in the abdominal and oblique region - looking to get that six-pack? Look no further.

Advanced HIIT session #2 -
6 minute advanced HIIT session:

1 minute jump-rope (70% speed)
30 seconds fast (95% speed) jump-rope
1 minute jump-rope
30 seconds fast jump-rope
1 minute jump-rope
30 seconds fast jump-rope
Rest, then repeat to your heart’s desire. Obviously, this HIIT set incorporates both jumps, which I mentioned often played an integral role in HIIT training earlier, and a jump-rope. Not very proficient with the jump-rope? Give it your best. You’re doing this to burn fat, regardless of how pretty you look while exercising. Similar sets that also incorporate jump-ropes are often utilized by boxers and soccer players in order to improve footwork and endurance. However, bodybuilders also take part in jump-oriented HIIT sessions in order to cut fat while building leg muscle. 
The sets exemplified in this article represent only a few options among the vast array of HIIT sets out there. Again - do you want to lose fat, while keeping muscle loss to a minimum? Then look no further; HIIT is for you. Those who work the hardest also reap the greatest benefits, and HIIT is quite intense and strenuous, especially for beginners. How bad do you want it? With knowledge of the benefits  HIIT provides to athletes, bodybuilders and regular, trying-to-get-in-shape people alike, it’s time to get out there and kick some ass. Good luck, and go hard. 

1 comment:

  1. been plateuing on my cut lately, will definitely try this out, thanks!