At any time on Instagram, you can find an endless supply of at-home workouts to do while in quarantine. Honestly, I think it’s great that so many people are using the time constructively and helping inspire others. Networking, sharing ideas and learning from each other is my favorite aspect of the internet in general (as well as the dog and cat videos, of course). One thing I do notice in most of these workouts is that they consist of high-intensity interval exercises performed at break-neck speed. Now, hear me out. This isn’t a diss song, I promise. The research has shown HIIT to be a very effective training method for improved body composition, especially considering it’s more time-efficient than traditional steady state cardio (British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2019). However, the “high-intensity craze” has transformed into high-intensity obsession where these are the only workouts many people are doing.
It’s led to a culture where every single training session is pushed to failure and beyond, aiming for more reps within a time constraint. While friendly competition can be a great thing for our development and the growth of a healthy community, I believe we’re going too far. Many of the exercises in HIIT training are very high-impact and pose a potential risk of injury when performed incorrectly (this risk increases as we fatigue) and in excess. Add a ticking clock to this and there’s even more temptation to sacrifice technique just to squeeze out a few more reps. This has carried over to many strength workouts as well, performed at lightning speed so the trainee can hurry up and move onto the next exercise. My coach Mike always says to perform “as many reps as pretty.”
While there are many benefits to high-intensity interval training sessions, don’t forget about good old fashioned strength training. Moving your body weight and/or external loads with high tension is very effective for building muscle, increasing strength, power, endurance, improving bone density and body composition (ACSM, 2019). These exercises are performed slower, but with high-tension and muscular activation when done correctly. Look, I get it. They’re not as exciting as burpees, jumps, battle rope slams, but the classics still work. Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, rows and carries should be a part of any training program as they train the fundamental movement patterns and strengthen the whole body effectively. Just because they’re slower and not as cool-looking doesn’t mean they don’t work.
Now, here’s the answer that will encourage you. Don’t ditch the HIIT workouts, keep them! However, I challenge you to flip the script. Prioritize strength. Select the strength movements/tools you want and aim to master them. Not every movement has to be performed super fast, give each rep the attention it deserves. Own the position, get tight and get brutally strong. Do this in addition to your HIIT training and you’ll become unstoppable.
To your lifelong health and success,
Fiataraone Singh, Maria; Hackett, Daniel; Schoenfeld, Brad; Vincent, Heather K.; Wescott, Wayne | Jul 31, 2019
Viana RB, Naves JPA, Coswig VS, et al Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019;53:655-664.
Here’s a simple yet effective full-body workout that builds strength, muscle and burns fat!
For some content on the lighter side, we started a new series called: Beers, Bells and Bro’s. We sit around, enjoy a beverage and give you our take on the fitness industry and other topics!