R11D489 – What is an HIIT schedule

don't kid yourselfI should start by saying it’s not strictly HIIT at all, in fact calling it Crossfit would be more accurate and while there are people who would call Crossfit HIIT it only occasionally fills the description. You can google Crossfit and HIIT and see what I mean.

HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training. The fact that it is in interval based system should indicate that it will only occasionally cross paths with Crossfit. In fact, the Tabata system of training is the very definition of HIIT and it’s rarely used in Crossfit. However, it would be easy to convert any Crossfit workout into an HIIT workout, instead of doing AMRAP for 16 minutes let’s say, you would simply break it down into X rounds with Y break in between.

For my purposes I like the HIIT method because it brings the short break that I have been accustomed to from my gym days and it causes a variation in heart rate that is said to be the most beneficial. Before we can jump into the timing we first need to see what ingredients we have to work with for our schedule. This will include any movements you like, any equipment you can use and of course both full body involvement and cardio and abs and yoga during the cycle which is typically 5-8 days. The traditional weight training would have you believe that a full body 4 day split is what you need, giving you a day off for rest so that you work the same body part once every 5 days. If you are doing compound movements with multiple pivot points and cross training specific body parts with others (pullups and pushups for example) then this notion is not much use to you. Instead, you should be looking for something that will keep you interested but be varied enough and predictable enough that you can get used to it but not bored with it. You can dress a skeleton in a lot of ways, just look around you, and we will do the same with a framework in which to work and the ability to switch exercises if necessary (injury or otherwise).

Keep in mind that you will also be progressing, the following is a good example of an HIIT progressive schedule:

  • Week 1 — 10/20 x6 (10s work, 20s rest, 6 sets)
  • Week 2 — 15/15 x4
  • Week 3 — 10/20 x8
  • Week 4 — 15/15 x6
  • Week 5 — 20/10 x4
  • Week 6 — 15/15 x8
  • Week 7 — 20/10 x6
  • Week 8 — 20/10 x8

I know it doesn’t look like much but with a ten minute warm up and the adherence to the HIGH part of HIIT then you will find this plenty. Now you don’t have to stick to these timing lengths, you can go longer as long as you rest and can repeat.

So what do I want do to with this schedule of mine? Well there are things I want to include and I think a 5 day split is plenty.

Clean (Power or squat or hang in a pinch)
Push Press (or clean and press)
Kettlebell swings (KBs are great for warmups BTW)
Bench Press
Wallball / Heavy Ball / Heavy Log
Block Jumps
Weighted lunges / lunge walk

Also, I want to make sure that I cover off the basic types of movement, that is to say:

That’s all for now, I am actually working on the final schedule as you read this, I should have it up in a couple of days. Until then it’s the last of the DB Isolations with The Beast.


R11D115 – Finally 90 Workouts

hiit cheetahOK so I admit it I have basically started my transition into HIIT already. I mean the bulk workouts were fine but in the end I felt like I was getting less fit and more cumbersome as I went along. My weights were all up and I loved the way it felt to do really heavy isolated exercises but I eventually tired of it and started to set up the deck for the summer workouts. That means I can move my barbell outside, work with my chinup bars and my rings to do ring dips and use my wall ball. Not only that, I have the hill at the side of the house to run up and the deck itself to do varying heights of box jumps with. The question is, do I move my barbell mat down from the garage on to the deck or do I transition my barbell workouts back into the garage like last summer. If I am indoors I can at least work out when it’s raining so I am not completely at the mercy of the weather. However, my chinup bar in the garage is a sad effort compared to my multiple chin up stations on the deck. I also have music in the garage and no people staring at me from across the pond as I work out.

I have also been a little lazy, only just now surpassing 90 actual workout days, as you can see I have been resting a lot more than usual and that has to stop. It’s the start of May now and I will take May as a transition to HIIT completely and try to give myself a little break from the heavy Bulk days of Body Beast. I could use a few days off but for those of you who are reading this we both know that’s not going to happen. I will probably take some days to do some cardio, some abs and to maybe even take a stab at some yoga again. After that I should really build some yoga into my workout schedule for the summer, I know it’s good for me.

As far as Body Beast goes, I woudl recommend it for people who want to put on size and strength, it’s well thought out and executed even though “the Beast” is a bit of a tool. I did see some fairly significant strength and size gains, some of which is creatine and water some of which could actually be muscle we will have to see. However the downside as I already noted was that when I remove the mobility part of my workouts that are so key to HIIT I start to feel less fit and at this point in my life the whole point of workouts are to feel better, not necessarily to be bigger or stronger for that matter. Body Beast was fun for a while, but my years of being a gym rat and doing isolation exercises for single body parts are best left in the past. It’s time to admit that the old school bodybuilder in me has been replaced by an athlete employing basic but multi functional and multiple muscle group workouts that stimulate the whole system. The notion of “arm day” or “back day” should and have been replaced by days that reflect basic movements in groups such as deadlifts and cleans, squats and clean and press, pullups and kettlebells and so on. I need to adopt a more functional schedule however, the Crossfit approach is not systematic or organized enough to be a single source so doing the WOD every day and hoping it will be a balanced workout scheme would be foolish. I guess that schedule is next.

You Need To Know This – Health and Fitness 101, The Basics

I guess I should expect it given where I came from…

I get asked with great regularity about my exercise, diet and motivation. I consider it a privilege to share my knowledge and in that spirit I have put together a basic list of the things that have influenced how I think. Some are my original thoughts, some are not, but it’s all part and parcel of what made me who I am today.

First, let’s get the diet out of the way.

Most of you already know my diet is paleo. It’s what I do and it is what I recommend. Even for kids I don’t see the value in eating grains that are processed and have very little in the way of nutritional value. Eat whole foods, drink water.

Eat like a predator, not prey
What are my reasons for eating paleo? (Other than losing 65lbs?)
Why I eat paleo (By Fitbomb)
Refined Carbs are Just Plain Bad  – including the part about exorphins, or why your body craves carbs like an addict craves coke
Its Carbs not fat that are the problem
Why Paleo isn’t low carb

Now you know how to eat and why let’s quickly address the darling of the weight loss myth – Cardio.

Kettlebells Vs Cardio - The dishonour of cardio
Forget what you think you know – Why cardio is killing you (especially this: 10 reasons I don’t do aerobics)
Why do HIIT – A special nod to my gym girls

The mental game. Why it’s critical to develop mental focus, strength and have a healthy work ethic. Fear and motivation are two topics that come up a lot with my gym girls, and it’s also something I see in the faces of my bootcamp participants. Fear is good, fear is healthy, fear is there to tell you that you are about to become better.

For the kids – Some things you should know…
Fear – Face it, defeat it. Over the years I have had kids who were afraid. Most aren’t any more because they know better.
A big enough WHY? Find your reason, without it you are lost.
Stop listening to yourself – long but well worth the read. PROTECT THIS HOUSE!

So there you have it for now. Some stuff I have written, some links to very good information out there on the web and some stuff I admit I stole because I think it will help you. It’s all important, come back again and again to take what you need and as you do, learn how to coach yourself through life and be the best that you can be for you, your family and those with whom you can share the knowledge.

Cardio and Kettlebells. Don’t Suffer On The Treadmill.

Pavel Tsatsouline calls kettlebell workouts “cardio without the dishonour of aerobics”. I would extend that to the dishonour of running on a treadmill or even worse, the pathetic excuse for a machine that is the elliptical.

My favourite quote of his is still: “If you don’t have good judgement, why don’t you stay on the machines you big sissy?”

I had a short conversation last night about cardio and why it’s better to build muscle than waste away on a treadmill but predictably the response was tinged with doubt. I have written about the cardio issue before, as have so many others but I thought I would just do a little recap for the sake of assisting those who still hold on to archaic and scientifically disproven methodologies.

The Kettlebell piece is easy. Study some swings and lifts then get to work, it will blow your mind:

Continuous kettlebell swings can impart a metabolic challenge of sufficient intensity to increase Vo2max. Heart rate was substantially higher than Vo2 during kettlebell swings. Kettlebells provide a useful tool with which coaches may improve the cardiorespiratory fitness of their athletes.

Simply put, it’s as beneficial as traditional “cardio” but without the joint pain and insufferable boredom.

The Cardio takes a little more convincing for some:

What is aerobic exercise? Any steady state locomotion elevating the heart rate into the zone for twenty minutes or more.The zone is determined by formulas based on age and resting heart rate.

Now, ten reasons why it not only doesn’t work but is a poor use of exercise time:

  1. Oxidative Stress
    Which causes a breakdown of tissues. It also predisposes one to cancer and heart attack.
  2. Elevated cortisol production
    Which causes a breakdown of muscle tissue and increases fat storage or depot fat. People do aerobics to alleviate stress yet end up creating more stress.
  3. Lowered testosterone and HGH levels
    For men, aerobics are a form of chemical castration. Low T-levels are associated with lowered libido, depression, anxiety, increased body fat and decreased muscle tissue. This contributes to muscle-wasting and lowers the basal metabolic rate.
  4. Increased appetite and a tendency toward binge eating patterns
    Aerobic exercise makes people hungry!
  5. Excessive Muscular Fatigue
    Making it difficult to do other more productive forms of activity. Aerobics creates muscular weakness.
  6. Conversion of fast-twitch muscle fibers to slow-twitch
    The loss of fast-twitch muscle fibers contributes to aging and the loss of explosive power and speed. People become slower and slower.
  7. Burns a relatively small amount of calories vs. the time spent
    One large meal completely offsets the pitiful amount of calories burned in an hour aerobics session.
  8. Overuse injuries to the feet, ankles, and knees from excessive, continual force transmitted throughout the body
    This is exacerbated by over-engineered running shoes which cushion the feet in such a way to create a neural amnesia.
  9. Shortening i.e., deformation, of the muscle tissue from repetitive mid-range (partial range) movements
    This creates inflexibility, immobility, and muscle imbalances. Besides being tight, the bodies postural alignment becomes compromised. Aerobics create tight, inflexible bodies that are in chronic pain.
  10. Adrenal burnout
    A consequence of the “feel good” neurotransmitters which also stimulate the release of adrenaline. Adrenaline is thefight or flight hormone. Excessive adrenaline creates an addictive response and people going routinely for the so called “high” of running end up with adrenal burnout, e.g., chronic fatigue and depression.


Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the father of aerobic exercise (and the person who coined the term) completely recanted his assertions regarding aerobic exercise. After observing a disproportionate number of his aerobic-enthusiast friends die of cancer and heart disease, he reversed his ideas on the benefits of excessive aerobic exercise. He now claims anything in excess of 20 minutes has greatly diminishing returns. In fact, he’s now an advocate of scientific weight training.

Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple was once (as we all were) a cardio junkie and states the following:

The stress of high intensity training was also leaving me soaking in my own internal cortisol (stress hormone) bath. It wasn’t so clear to me at the time exactly what was happening “ in fact it was quite confusing, since I was doing so much of this so-called ‘healthy’ aerobic exercise but I had no choice but to give up racing, unable to train at anywhere near the intensity required to stay at an elite level.

The costs of chronic (repetitious) mid- and high-level aerobic work
– requires large amounts of dietary carbohydrates (SUGAR)
– decreases efficient fat metabolism
– increases stress hormone cortisol
– increases systemic inflammation
– increases oxidative damage (free radical production)
– boring!

Facts are that cardio training is more harmful than anyone ever imagined. The correct use of your time is in resistance training, more specifically high intensity resistance training mixed with off days of whatever you fancy. Literally, you should be out in the world challenging yourself to climb rocks, jump over tree stumps, climb in a kids playground to test your new found fitness.

Nobody should be subjected to running on a treadmill for hours at a time, you’re not a hamster in a wheel for heaven’s sake!


R5D12 – Modified WOD and TGU Plus Why Do HIIT (and not cardio)

gymnastsWhat burns calories best? Should I run 3 hours a day to burn fat? Why are you making us work so hard? All valid questions from my little proteges at gymnastics. Being as it is that I am their Strength and Conditioning coach, they often come to me looking for (simple) answers. Running 3 hours a day vs working out 30 minutes a day? Sounds like the stuff I tell my wife about wasting her time on the treadmill. Once again, the interwebs come to the rescue.alicias

HIIT kicks cardio’s butt.

The study to show HIIT (painful, hard workouts) beats lower intensity longer cardio sessions (A bit, well, dry)

Yet more information about why not to eat grains including rice!

In honour of the benefits of HIIT, I literally drove myself into the ground yesterday.

Using a 90lb barbell and a 18″ box (due to height restrictions in my basement):

10 Box Jumps
1 Sumo Deadlift High Pull
9 Box Jumps
2 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
8 Box Jumps
3 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
7 Box Jumps
4 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
..and so on until…
1  Box Jump
10 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls

I collapsed and I think I set a new HR record of 166 bpm which for me is pretty good. I usually peak at 160 and I really felt those extra 6! I don’t really know why I was so tired after, however, I also did my RKC 5 TGU per side so that may explain it.

I shouldn’t complain, my competitive girls work harder than I do… I make sure of that!