| By Nassim Jebran |
Summer is creeping around the corner and those constant hours of walking on a treadmill haven’t gotten you grating cheese on your mid-section. It’s time to drop the machines, get outside and get ripped! Before we start, I have to make it clear: if your diet isn’t where it’s supposed to be, then your abs are not going to pop! Steady-State (SS) cardio is great, if you want to spend 5+ hours a week pretending to watch the news while you really check out the gym bunnies. If you want to burn more calories in less time then you better get your head in the game and start doing some HIIT!
What is HIIT?
High-Intensity-Interval-Training (HIIT) is a cardio method where for a short burst of time (say, 15-30 seconds) you give an all-out, balls-to-the-walls, I-got-nothing-left-in-me effort followed by a rest period that isn’t much longer – then you repeat, repeat, repeat!
Now, you may be asking: why would I want to put myself through that? The answer: Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). EPOC is the body’s mechanism that brings your body back to a pre-workout condition or normal state. This requires calories and a lot of them.
After a battle with HIIT your body can take up to 48 hours to get back to its resting state. HIIT makes your body a fat burning machine! EPOC isn’t the only reason you should be doing HIIT. Similarly to how your muscles get stronger after weight training, your heart and lungs get stronger by increasing your maximum oxygen consumption (more commonly known as VO2 max). A person’s VO2 max is the limit that the individual’s body can transport and use oxygen in throughout the body. Some might say that’s pretty important!
So, let’s recap:
- HIIT increases your EPOC and VO2 max.
- As EPOC increases so does the fat burning.
- As VO2 max increases your ability to do HIIT increases.
Got it? Good.
How Hard Do You HIIT?
Sprinters have a tendency to be huge and ripped. Coincidence? I think not. With the 2012 Summer Olympics taking place this summer you can’t help but notice. Let’s take a lesson from these Olympians and start sprinting. If you have a track nearby, great. But for those of us who don’t, an empty parking lot will do. Mark off approximately 50 to 100 meters:
1) Run the distance as fast as you can; make sure to give it your all.
2) Walk slowly back to the starting line.
If you are new to HIIT and sprinting, start with 5 rounds and work your way up to 10-15. This should take you 10-20 minutes. Much better than that hour walking on the treadmill, don’t you think?
For those of you who really want a challenge – try doing sprints on a hill. Your legs will be screaming for mercy!
Want to bring your conditioning to a Strong-Athlete level? Nothing can get you there faster than a Prowler!
This multi-purpose tool is unlike anything you have ever used. Load on a few plates and you can push, pull and crawl your way to a ripped physique. The beauty of the prowler is the varying angles/heights that you can use to push; this will allow you to really hit your quads, hams and glutes. Once you’re finished pushing, hook the Prowler up to a harness and pull the monster across. The biggest con of the Prowler is the price at $350+. The average person won’t want to dish out that kind of coin. This brings me to a sled. Originally, you could only pull sleds but most have been re-engineered to allow pushing as well.
The Sled is a very versatile metabolic conditioning tool. For about $120 you can load the sled in your car and use it anywhere.
Similar to sprinting, you want to set aside 50-100 meters. One round will consist of you pushing the sled the allotted distance. To step up the intensity and have your equipment last a lifetime, do your sled drags on grass; soccer/football fields work best. Also, the added friction of the grass will put your ego in check. One of the best and most versatile brands on the market is the Sledbarrow, invented by Jason McPherson and Andre Agate, two great Toronto-area strength coaches. For more information, please visit their website at www.sledbarrow.com.
The next few HIIT exercises are here to throw conventional out the damn window.
You will need about 50 feet of 1.5 inch thick rope. One of the best brands out there is the Anaconda ropes, which are built with high quality material and will last a very long time. You can order them online at www.360conditioning.com. Alternatively, you can check around your city to locate a boat rigging supplier. You can get 1.5 Manila (the standard rope used for conventional battle ropes) rope for roughly $2-$2.50 per foot, which is very cost effective. How’s that for a Strong-Athlete inside scoop?!
Go to an empty soccer field and feed your rope around a soccer post. You should be standing with a 25 foot rope in each hand. Use your arms to create waves, double waves, alternating, small or large, there are endless possibilities. Have a time set for 30 second working intervals followed by 30 seconds of rest. Start with 5 rounds and work your way up to 10-15.
Sledgehammer and Tire:
This one is for you destructive types! Pick up a 10 pound sledgehammer from your local hardware store (approximately $25-$50) and a tire shop will gladly give you an old tire for free (saves them disposal costs). All that built up anger can be let out; hit the tire 10 times with your left then 10 times with your right. Start with 50 total hits (5 sets) per arm and work up to 100. A nice bonus is that your core gets an awesome workout and will be sore as hell from doing this, depending on how you swing the hammer.
Whatever your HIIT method may be you would want to limit it to 2-4 times per week; if you do more you run the risk of hindering your weight training and burning out your central nervous system.
Now go out there and HIIT like a Strong-Athlete!
Nassim Jebran is a strength enthusiast who started lifting at 17. By utilizing his extreme work ethic and determination, he went from a starting weight of 135lbs. to 190lbs. He now regularly squats in the 400s and deadlifts in the 500s. In 2012, Nassim will start competing in Strongman competitions. In addition to all this, Nassim has an unrelenting thirst for knowledge; obtaining a degree in Engineering and is constantly experimenting with new lifting techniques and programs. Strength is his passion and we are happy to have him aboard Strong-Athlete.com.