Is HIIT made for you?

hiit

What’s up my dear lifters?

Today I’d like to talk about HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. You can find great ‘scientific’ articles on the subject which will be better than me if I am going on the scientific road.

I think it will be more interesting to get a personal approach of the subject.

First of all, for those who don’t know HIIT I’d like to give you a definition:
‘form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise’ – Wikipedia.

In simple words, HIIT is a sprint followed by a recovery period. The most popular kind of HIIT is the Tabata regimen created by the professor Izumi Tabata. You can click on his name to get the full training method.

Advantages

  • TIME
    The great part with HIIT is that you don’t need to jump on the treadmill for 1h. In the case of the tabata regimen, you only need 4min of your time to get some cardio done. In general, people don’t go beyond 15min of HIIT which is shorter than normal cardio
  • METABOLISM ON THE ROLL
    Because your body requires more oxygen when sprinting, your metabolism will stay active up to 48h after your session meaning that you’ll keep burn calories after your HIIT session (resulting in weight loss)
  • NO EQUIPMENT
    HIIT workout can be anything from running outside to shadow boxing as long as you alternate sprints with rest time
  • ENDURANCE IMPROVEMENT
    Even though you are sprinting, using HIIT on a regular basis will definitely improve your endurance session after session. At the beginning you might only be able to sprint for 10sec but you’ll quickly be able to sprint for 20sec…

 

Drawbacks

  • NOT FOR EVERYBODY
    As HIIT is extremely demanding, it is not ideal for people with obesity or heart problems. Such intensity can lead to heart attacks if your fitness level is not good enough
  • POOR FORM
    As the goal is to do an exercise as fast as possible, you’ll focus your effort on speed rather than motion which can potentially leads to injuries
  • NOT THE BEST ENDURANCE
    If you’re looking at improving your endurance, nothing will beat traditional cardio. You don’t train for a marathon by sprinting….
  • ENERGY LEVEL = 0
    If done properly, HIIT will take a lot and I mean A LOT of energy which will impact your nervous system. If you are already exercising hard, it might affect you lifts and leads to injuries

 

My Personal Experience

I know that you can always find hundreds if not thousands of articles about the subject. That’s why I always like to involve my personal experience as it might give you a better understanding of the situation. It’s easier to picture something in practice than in theory.

When I reached 105kgs, I knew it was time to cut down. While you can lose weight with a strict diet only, I knew that cardio would help me to go the extra mile.

The problem is that I’ve always hated traditional cardio (running, cycling). It’s too boring because I don’t see any goal. I prefer to play football, tennis or any sport to get my cardio done.

If I used to play football my entire youth, I didn’t have the option in Manchester. As I didn’t want to try traditional cardio, I conducted some research and came across HIIT training.

As I had stopped playing football for a while, my endurance level was near 0. So you can imagine my state after my first HIIT session: I was KO! But as I never give up, I decided to keep going to finally realize that HIIT didn’t really make a difference.

But few months after when my endurance improved and my weight dropped down, I realized that you have to give EVERYTHING to get an efficient HIIT session. This is the key to lose weight and keep your muscle mass: you have to give 100% during your sprint, not 80%, not 95% but 100%.

If you are only at 90% of your capacities saying that you’ll give more later – you’ll probably get some results but not what you are expecting.

This is the very reason why HIIT is not for everybody. If you are too fat and your endurance level is not good enough, you won’t be able to give everything – which is the key for an effective HIIT session.

Does it Work?

From my experience, yes it does! The above paragraph is the first example. HIIT didn’t do everything – it was a combination of diet, cardio and weightlifting however I know that HIIT helped me to lose the remaining fat and keep my muscle mass – pictures of my transformation can be seen here.

My second example date back when I was 18/20 years old, in France. At that time, my training was getting better and I soon wanted more. My physique was pretty decent but nothing comparable to bodybuilders or rugby players. Most of them had the same height than me but heavier so I wanted to weight 90+ kgs.

But despite eating anything I could see, my weight remained the same. I gained some muscle but stayed at a mere 81kgs, I was crushed!

It’s only when I discovered about HIIT that I understood what had happened to me. In France, I was still playing football a lot (almost everyday) but also some tennis. As you know, those sports are based on short bursts of speed like…..HIIT! You got it!!!

When you play football, rugby, handball… you are not really running all the time but more jogging at a slow pace and accelerating when you need to defend or go forward and this goes on for 1h30min. Without knowing it, I was doing crazy HIIT session so if I wanted to gain weight, I should have EATEN WAY MORE!!!

But I didn’t know that at that time and that’s why I am sharing my experience with you today.

Final Word

After reading this article, you should know if HIIT is for you.

If you already have a good endurance and fitness level and you are looking at getting shredded, HIIT might be the secret weapon to burn the extra fat you can’t get rid of. It is also ideal if you don’t want to spend hours running on the treadmill and still get some great benefits.

But if your goal is to gain more endurance, you should use a more traditional approach of cardio.

I wouldn’t recommend HIIT to people with obesity or heart problems or people with a low fitness level. Try to level up your physical abilities in order to use HIIT.

EXTRA

Here are my favorite HIIT regimens – I got amazing results when I was cutting down:

  • 30m sprint / 30m jogging – 5 times then take 1min rest before repeating (3sets for a total of 15 sprints)
  • 25m sprint in swimming-pool / 25min slow pace swim – 5 times then take 1min rest before repeating (3sets for a total of 15 sprints)hiit

 

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