THE INTELLIGENT APPROACH TO HIIT
So if you read any fitness articles out there today, you’ll notice high intensity short duration are the go to method for weight loss and performance. This can be an efficient and very effective tool. Though I wholeheartedly agree with this approach, there are some major reasons why we don’t perform these in the usual manner.
THE MOVEMENT SELECTION
With bootcamp style workouts being very popular incorporating exercises typically seen in strength training regimes is common place. Push ups, lunges, olympic lifts, and suspend rows are just some examples.
Though the premise is sound, doing linear movements with high volume and intensity can lead to some problems. Linear movements (like I listed above) are extremely effective at developing lean muscle mass and ramping up the metabolism.
This is absolutely a good thing, but we need to understand what happens to the connective tissue and joints in this environment. The nature of these movements limit the blood flow, oxygen and strengthening of these vital components. This is by design to ensure that the muscle is properly engaged and loaded to promote muscle growth. Initially this causes stiffness and soreness. This then leads to compensated movement patterns. If these issues aren’t addressed this progresses to aches and pains and eventually injury.
A majority of these workouts prescribe very brief rest periods or sometimes none at all. Once again, a very effective tool for fat loss and lean muscle.
BUT….Much like linear movement, this does little for your connective tissue and joints. Once you push the body to certain level of fatigue speed, power and grace go out the window. The negative effect of the absence of these qualities is far beyond aesthetic.
The connective tissue and tendons house the mechanisms for speed, power and reaction time. When these are no longer present it means that these structures are not getting properly innervated . Without proper innervation we get undue wear and tear.
Though all this can be mitigated with proper mobility training and joint care, this rarely happens. Through neglect or just lack of time (most of clients and athletes don’t live in the gym) addressing these deficits is often left to they wayside.
Having seen these effects in dozens of clients (and fellow trainers) we formulated a process to help combat and eliminate these problems. Incorporating a few key components and slightly altering the usual program design we were still able to reap the fitness benefits and avoid the aches, pains and injuries.
MULTI PLANAR MOVEMENTS
We found that moving in multiple planes of motion is amazing for intensity and longevity. With lighter loads, graceful movement but with adequate force , muscles, joints and connective tissue all play equal roles. Because we are throwing the weight this provides more than enough load to promote muscle growth. In addition the elastic nature heals and strengthens the joints and connective tissue.
SINGLE ARM/LEG ALTERNATING MOVEMENTS
Though these seem rather simple, these can offer some serious benefits. For one, most movements outside of the gym are of this nature. Walking, running, throwing, and punching just to name a few. We take these movements and exaggerate their typical ranges of motion. This not only develops some usually neglected muscle and movements, but also is amazing for core strength as well as mobility.
A great way to avoid unnecessary wear ad tear is to vary the movements within each round of exercise. This will keep the metabolism firing while giving the muscles, joints and connective tissue time to recover. This results in an fat burning, challenging workout without severe soreness and breakdown.
EXTENDED REST PERIODS
Though we do say “extended” it just means longer than typically prescribed in these regimes. Tabata for example, suggests a 20 second work period followed by 10 seconds rest. There is room for play here, but we typically like a 1:1 work to rest ratio. This ensures speed, power and graceful movement. If the workout is well designed and the movements are done properly the metabolism should still be pumping during your break.