There is nothing more upsetting than not getting results after dedicating hours to workout sin the gym and dieting over the course of many months! You pushed the weights regularly, did cardio and improved your diet, but in the end, there was still that unwanted layer of body fat covering your abdominals. It may have been because you did monitor one very important item…added sugar.
Are Doing Sit-ups Enough?
You may wonder why your abs are not showing as much as you would like, especially since you’ve been hitting the gym every other day for months now. A research study at the University of Massachusetts, in 1984, looked at various fitness outcomes of subjects who performed 5,000 sit-ups over the course of a month. Performing hundreds of sit-ups on a daily basis wasn’t enough to lose abdominal fat. The subjects, a group of college students, had body measurements taken as well as a painful muscle biopsy procedure. The subjects body fat didn’t change and not even an inch was lost around the abdominal area by the end of the study. In the end, they had much stronger abs but their body fat and girth remained unchanged.
Many factors can influence the way you look and feel on a daily basis as well as over the course of your lifetime. A healthy, sustainable lifestyle also plays a huge part in how lean you ultimately get. You have probably heard that genetics are also important. True. Don’t forget about physical activity (in and out of the gym), this plays a significant role too. The missing “ingredient” in most exercise plans though is cutting back and monitoring added sugar.
What is Your DASI? Daily Added Sugar Intake
The term, DASI, is an acronym that I coined and stands for daily added sugar intake. It’s an important component of any nutrition program and it’s a game changer for those looking to get ripped abs. For the majority of people, getting a lean, ripped mid-section will be a lifelong challenge. Some never seem to realize that how they fuel their body in turn effects their midsection and abdominal area. This goes well beyond doing a daily plank challenge. Learn from the story of the UMass college students.
Follow These 2-Steps to Get Strong, Ripped Abs
Beware of added sugar in all foods and drinks. How? Start reading food labels and keep track of your daily added sugar. Put yourself on a sugar budget. Eat no more than 150 calories of added sugar a day for men. That’s about 38 grams a day for men and 100 calories or 25 grams a day for women. Carbohydrates (sugar) contain 4 calories per gram. There are two types of sugars, natural sugar and added sugar. Added sugar is hidden in just about everything we eat and drink. Examples of natural sugar are milk and fruit, and unlike added sugar, they contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals. Added sugar has minimal nutrients, basically no fiber, and can quickly raise blood sugar levels like all types of fast food or junk food.
Add a weekly HIIT session on the cardio side, in addition to your weekly strength training sessions. Begin adding intervals into a cardio session or two with bouts of hard work followed by brief periods of recovery and repeat several times. A whole cardio session could be an interval-based workout for 15-20 minutes or you can periodically add it to the cardio work you’re doing now. Any type of cardio will do the trick from jogging, biking, to rowing.
Remain focused with your weekly core routine and incorporate the two steps above into your training plan. This will definitely move you in the right direction in terms of getting those long wanted ripped abs. Shaking things up periodically, from the way you have been doing things, is a great way to stimulate not only your body but also your mind. Use the Jefit app to help track your progress and keep you moving toward your goals. Remember, you don’t own it until you right down or record it, so use the app. Good luck Stay Strong!
Use the Jefit App to Record Your Workouts
Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC Magazine, Men’s Health, The Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.
Despite what sport or workout you do, recovery is crucial. Without taking the time to rest and recover, you risk overtraining and making yourself more prone to low energy and injury. You’ll also feel not as great as if you’ve had the proper rest that you need. So how do recovery methods differ for each workout? Find out here.
Different Recovery Methods to Avoid Low Energy
How to Recover from Cardio
Hydration is key to help avoid low energy. You sweat a lot from moderate to intense cardio so make sure that you replace lost fluid. If you weren’t drinking water throughout your workout either, drink even more.
If you’ve only done moderate level cardio, then It’s best to stay away from sports drinks that are marketed towards athletes. These drinks contain high levels of added sugar that aren’t needed for moderate workouts.
You can drink these sports drinks and other liquids with electrolytes after longer cardio sessions.
How to Recover from HIIT
HIIT, or High Intense Interval Training, consists of short bursts of extreme exercise followed by rest break. This definitely gets your heart ramping up a lot quicker than LISS or moderate exercise. You’ll also be burning calories after your workout thanks to a process called post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC refers to the amount of oxygen it takes to restore your body to its normal state. HIIT boosts this process.
As well as drinking fluids and making sure that you’re hydrated, make sure you eat a meal rich in carbs and protein (3:1 ratio is ideal). This way, you are feeding your body the fuel it needs by letting your muscles grow and restore glycogen stores.
HIIT is very taxing on the body so it is best to give yourself one full day in between to recover. Doing it every day or even multiple times a day can really increase your risk of overtraining. Do yourself a favor, and take a break in order to avoid bouts of low energy from too much intense exercise.
How to Recover from Running
After a run, you would have sweat quite a bit. So, surprise, surprise, you will need to restore your fluids. Water and/or electrolytes is your number one priority. Believe it or not, chocolate milk is one of the best post-running drink/snack that you can have. It embodies the 3:1 carb to protein ratio that you need, and of course, it’s delicious.
Just remember to incorporate rest days into your schedule. Running puts a lot of stress and pressure on your joints, so it’s crucial to give them a break. At least one rest day a week is ideal, and maybe even two.
If you find it difficult to take a break, it doesn’t mean that you have to be sedentary the entire day. Go for a walk, or do some low-impact activities. Swimming is a great one because it takes the stress off your joints, while still allowing you to get some exercise in.
How to Recover from Strength Training
As strength training focuses primarily on building your muscles, you’ll need to make sure you consume protein and a good amount of carbs after a workout. You would have depleted your muscle stores so it’s important to refuel. This will aid in recovery, help avoid low energy, as well as promote muscle growth.
You’ll also need to ensure that you drink water and have a good, filling meal. Stick to the 3:1 carbohydrate/protein ratio to maximize recovery. You have probably heard the perfect recovery drink with this exact ratio is chocolate milk.
The recovery times and rest days in between strength training greatly depends on your workout schedule. If you split your days between muscle groups, such as back, shoulders, legs, etc, then you can get away with training 5-6 days with one rest day in the week.
If you train the same muscle group in a row, give yourself at least a days rest in between to recover.
Just Listen to Your Body
While the general rule of thumb is to give the same muscle group a rest day, minimum, in between workouts. Otherwise, you risk overtraining. And at the end of the day, just listen to your body. If you’re feeling the effects of training that transcends beyond normal DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), then take a break. You won’t ruin your progress by taking a couple of days off, in fact, you’ll probably help it. Use a foam roller post workout to help recover faster and help with DOMS.
Make sure that you always warm up before your workout and stretch afterwards. It’ll facilitate the muscle recovery process and help to speed it up. It might be a good idea to foam roll as well. This will lessen the recovery times for each activtity.
While we all know that getting in daily exercise is important to everyone, there is much debate about what kind of exercise is best for us, especially with cardio training. There are two popular forms of cardio HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State Cardio). Each has their own pros and cons, so if you are wondering whether to do HIIT or LISS, here is what you should know.
Is HIIT or LISS Better For Me?
LISS – Low Intensity Steady State Cardio
LISS or Low Intensity Steady State Cardio, is a form of aerobic (“with oxygen”) exercise. This means that improves your oxygen intake. LISS is typically performed for 30-60 minutes at a steady pace with limited changes in speed or intensity. It is referred to as low intensity as you usually only hit 45-65% of your estimated maximum heart rate.
If you are comparing HIIT or LISS, LISS is advantageous in a number of areas.
Less demanding on the body
Because it is low intensity, it is less demanding on the body. It is also easier on the joints, tendons and ligaments.
Less injury risk
It also means that the risk of injury is also much lower than other alternative forms. You are moving at a steadier pace so you are not pushing yourself too hard, with can be hard on the body.
Better at initial fat burn
One of the best benefits of LISS is that it is better at fat burning than HIIT, initially. You use the fat stored in your body as the primary source of energy as opposed to glycogen. This is why when people start doing LISS, they see great results.
However, there are some downfalls that might mean turning to other forms of cardio for the results that you want.
While the sessions themselves are not as taxing as HIIT, this means that your workouts will be much longer; you are not using as much energy as fast. If you are busy or don’t have much time, LISS may not be the best option for you.
Less motivated to workout
Following on from that, because the sessions are longer, you may be less motivated to actually get started in the first place.
Only burns calories during the workout
Another downfall of LISS is that you only burn calories while you are doing the workout. Unfortunately, once your session is done, you will not continue to burn calories afterwards.
The body adapts quickly to LISS
While I mentioned that LISS is great for fat burning initially, the keyword here was initially. This is because your body will quickly adapt to your LISS workouts, meaning that the once-great results you may have seen at the start will not last long.
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
On the other hand of the spectrum is HIIT aka High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT has become a buzzword in the fitness industry, gaining momentum in popularity.
HIIT consists of shorter more intense sessions of 10-60 seconds of work. This is alternated with rest or light activity time (this is where the interval part of the name comes in). HIIT brings your heart rate up to 70-90% of your maximum heart rate.
Unlike LISS, HIIT is anaerobic (“without oxygen”) exercise because your body uses more oxygen than it can be supplied. This why with HIIT, you will run out of breath more quickly and your muscles will burn (caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles). The rest periods in HIIT are important because it allows your body to clear the lactic acid and rebuild oxygen levels.
Here are some advantages of high intensity interval training that may help you decide between HIIT or LISS.
If you are deciding between HIIT or LISS, the time factor may be a big key to consider. HIIT sessions are much shorter and more time efficient than LISS sessions. This is because the intensity levels are higher so you will become fatigued quite quickly.
Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)
Unlike with LISS, HIIT workouts help keep your body burning calories long after your session is done because of EPOC. EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, refers to the amount of oxygen required to return the body to its normal metabolic level (called homeostasis).
The body has to work hard to rebuild the oxygen levels up that it lost during the session, which is why you continue to burn calories and fat post-workout, even for up to 24 hours.
Better for long-term fat loss
While people see great results with LISS at the start, HIIT is better for long-term fat loss results.
Helps with muscle retention
One reason why people tend to avoid cardio is that they do not want to lose muscle. HIIT helps with retaining muscle because it includes weight training and movements that activate the muscles the same way that strength training does.
More demanding on the body
Due to the high intensity nature of HIIT, you do place a lot more stress on the body. This also means that there is an increased risk of injury.
Longer recovery time
It does take longer to recover from a HIIT workout so due to the physical demands, it can be challenging to complete HIIT workout every single day so you will have to find alternate workouts in between to give your body a break.
Can be intimidating for beginners
It can be intimidating for new people to give it a go at first. It does look intense because it is intense but also very rewarding!
So Should I Choose HIIT or LISS?
The final answer does depend on your preference and lifestyle. If you find yourself skipping workouts because you’re dreading the hour-long jog, then try giving HIIT a go. If you hate the intensity of HIIT, then turn to LISS. A good idea, however, would be to do both on alternate days and rotate between the two so that you can reap the benefits of each.
Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep track of their fitness goals. Not only does it give you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers both weight training and cardio.
It can be frustrating when you put in hours each week at the gym or with your home workout, yet you see minimal or no gain. Here are some of the more common mistakes that could be preventing you from building muscle and what you can try instead.
Don’t Skip Leg Day
Let’s start with the most common mistake. Focusing wholly on your upper body may cause you to end up out of proportion, but more likely than not, this won’t be the case – you won’t be able to build the upper body muscle to begin with. Having strong legs allows you to support a bulkier upper body, making it easier to build muscle. Many compound leg exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, are also better at increasing testosterone, which helps when developing muscles elsewhere.
A study by the University of Texas found that “performing squats synthesizes more testosterone and growth hormone than a similar session on the leg press.” Although the test subjects lifted more weight on the leg press, their exhaustion was 42 percent higher after doing squats.
Avoid Sugar Spiking
Consuming too many sugary energy drinks, chocolate milkshakes or even some protein bars, could be taking away your ability to gain muscle. While they may give you the energy and protein necessary to build muscle mass, the excess sugar, in turn, could be inhibiting your ability to take in muscle-building amino acids. Look out for low-sugar drinks and snacks that will still give you the protein and energy. Keep in mind, men should consume no more than 38 grams a day and women 25 grams a day of added sugar.
Consuming the Wrong Kind of Calories
When trying to build muscle, you do need to consume additional calories. However, it’s important to eat the right kind of calories. Fast food, ice cream and pizza will more likely cause you to pile on fat. Increase your calories in more healthy ways by eating more fish, chicken, rice, potatoes and vegetables.
Some people can go overboard on supplements like creatine and fish oil, using these instead of taking up a healthy diet or taking too many causing nutritional problems. There are then those who take the wrong kind of supplements (i.e. performance enhancing drugs like steroids). Steroids are notoriously common amongst some gym-goers but as most know, they can run all kinds of other health risks. You’ll bulk up faster, sure, but you also damage your body in the process, causing severe long-term health problems.
Avoid Too Much Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise, is very beneficial, but, should be reserved to a minimum when trying to bulk up. This is because it steals the calories needed for repairing muscle tissue, converting the calories instead into fuel for aerobic exercise. Try limiting your cardio to twenty minutes, three times a week and see if this has any impact. A few short, HIIT sessions could also work well.
Ignore Weight Training Technique
There are specific techniques to follow for each strength training exercise. For example, proper deadlift form, requires keeping your legs about hip-width apart, not arching (flexing) your back, tucking your chin etc. These will all help build muscle more effectively in addition to protecting your spine and hips in the process. Make sure that you’re using the right technique with each exercise, otherwise you could be preventing yourself from building muscle.
The award-winning Jefit app currently offers more than three thousand different exercise programs. You name it, and Jefit offers it on their app. From basic strength programs, to muscle endurance, 5 x 5 training programs, bodyweight circuits and even Tabata and HIIT workouts. Individuals who use our app can try one of the exercise programs mentioned, or of course, design their own workout.
Below are eight exercise programs that we wanted to mention. Each one is currently featured on the Jefit app, if you want to check one of them out. Let us know if you end up downloading any of the programs. Also, we’re interested in hearing your thoughts on what you consider the best strength programs that you have tried on the Jefit app?
Jefit Exercise Programs to Try (“Click” a Workout Title to See the Actual Program)
As with any HIIT session, the idea is to train using a high intensity, which at times can be easier said than done! You should be breathing heavy (“winded”) by the end of each set. Perform as many repetitions as possible (“AMRAP”) based on the interval time that is prescribed. This is one way to make sure that you get the most out of each workout.
The program includes 3-days, intermediate-level, full body, HIIT sessions. Each session in the program starts off with a brief 3 bodyweight movement prep to get the body ready for a high-intensity session. Following this, you’ll dive into a full body, interval-based, circuit using supersets. The main portion of the workout consists of 5 pair of supersets. Each subsequent workout session is a little more challenging as a result of an increase in the volume of work (sets x repetitions).
Equipment needed: kettlebells and plyo box (or a small step or bench).
For those looking to build a defined their six pack the old fashioned way, use this routine, for six weeks, to get you the sculpted and defined abs that you have been looking for. Each exercise will help target a different area of the abdominal muscles from the obliques to the lower abs to the whole core.
Weeks 1 – 3
For the first three weeks when you do your workouts in this exercise program, you will do ab exercises with more repetitions and less sets. When working with more repetitions, you have the potential to burn more calories and fat surrounding the abdominal muscles that you are targeting and working hard to develop. A big component here is what you end up doing away from the gym. Such as, getting enough sleep, expending additional calories if needed, and focusing on a healthy diet.
You will perform this set of exercises three days each week as you focus on technique, intensity, and the amount of repetitions performed.
Ab Rollout on Knees
Hanging Leg Raise
Kneeling Cable Pulldown
*** (Notes : With the first 3 weeks of the routine, you will be performing the same exercises with the same movements, volume and resistance).
Weeks 4 – 6
For weeks four through six in this exercise program, you will be asked to increase the volume and the resistance of each exercise that you do in the routine. Increasing the resistance and volume will require your abdominal muscles to strengthen thus building more defined and fuller abs.
This set of exercises are also performed for three days each week, with the focus on the volume and resistance during the workout.
Dumbbell Side Bend
Cable Side Bends
Weighted Hanging Knee Raise
Weighted Decline Crunch
*** (Notes : During the final 3 weeks of the routine, there is more focus on performing each repetition to its fullest with added weight to each exercise to build size and strength. You want to keep a controlled pace at all times and focus on the contraction on the muscles during each repetition).
This intermediate session offers two training sessions that can be done 1-2x/week. Meaning, two sessions or if you like, repeat for 4 sessions/week taking a rest day between workouts. The goal of this plan is to build a base-level of general strength across all major muscle groups.
Day 1 – Legs, Back, Core, Chest
Day 2 – Shoulder, Core, Arms
Really pay attention to your diet while following this exercise program. Eat whole foods while consuming plenty of healthy carbs, fat, fiber and at least 1 gram of protein/kilogram of body weight. Supplement meals and all workouts with a whey protein drink if needed. Make sure it contains the amino acid leucine though. Use 25-35 grams/protein in any protein drink or meal. Drink plenty of H2O and get 7-8 hours of sleep. Eat well and stay strong!
This workout routine is for anyone who can’t get to a gym or is looking for a full body routine using dumbbells only.
For individuals who put their gym membership on “hold” or aren’t able to get to a gym; this routine will provide a sufficient full-body, 3-day split routine. An individual can target all their main body parts and either gain/maintain muscle mass until life gets back to normal.
The plan focuses on heavy lifts using 3 to 4 sets with 10 repetitions per set to increase muscle mass and overall size over the course of the program.
If you would like to perform more cardio, you can substitute rest days for cardio days.
Especially for compound lifts we recommend warming up with lighter weights before your working sets. A common warmup scheme is 10-15 sets with a very light weight, followed by intermediate sets until you do 1 repetition of your working weight
Reps, Sets and Rest
There are many different rep schemes that’ll help you reach your goals. We’ve set 3 sets of 8 repetitions by default, but feel free to change it to your own liking.
In this program you’ll be doing 4 rounds of twenty exercises in quick succession.
The key to any circuit training routine is to make sure that you do not rest in between sets or in between exercises until you complete all of the exercises in the circuit. This will keep your metabolic rate up ensuring that you burn as many calories as possible without sacrificing strength.
Take full use of your rests after each round! It will prepare you for the later rounds.
Make sure you have a light sweat before you start your workout. Especially for compound lifts we recommend warming up with lighter weights before your working sets. A typical warm-up might include a few sets with a very light weight, followed by intermediate sets until you do 1 repetition of your working weight.
Reps, Sets and Rest
There are many different rep schemes that’ll help you reach your goals. We’ve set 3 sets of 8 reps by default, but feel free to change it to your own liking.
This 3-day routine is a favorite in the Jefit community due to the fact that it has been downloaded almost 1800 times.
A split workout is designed to train different muscle groups on different days before giving them time to recover before they’re trained again.
The 3-day split is a great balance for those that want results, but don’t have the time to spend more sessions in the gym. This plan focuses on the exercises that maximize work on the targeted muscles.
Especially for compound lifts we recommend warming up with lighter weights before your working sets. A common warmup scheme is a few sets with a very light weight, followed by a few intermediate sets, until you do 1 repetition of your working weight.
Reps, Sets and Rest
There are many different repetition schemes that’ll help you reach your goals. We’ve set 3 sets of 8 repetitions by default, but feel free to change it to your own liking.
This is another very popular strength training program on Jefit with about 2200 downloads to date. This is a power and strength routine that is focused on gaining strength within the muscles.
You will be performing major muscle and power building multi-joint exercises. These exercise focus at time, on the use of all the little muscles to do each exercise, thus creating optimal growth and strength gaining.
Since you are performing major muscle building exercises, there is no need to perform sets to failure, drop sets or decreasing the amount of repetitions. To build the power and strength in your muscles you want to perform the amount of sets and repetitions to the number that is being presented. This prevents from bulking up in muscle mass without gaining any strength and power or cutting and losing strength.
In this routine you will be alternating the different weeks performed for up to 6 – 8 weeks; this is for optimal muscle growth and strength.
Use Jefit App to Plan & Track Workouts
The award-winning Jefit app, was named best app for 2021 by PC Magazine and Men’s Health. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.
One of the best benefits of exercise is that it reduces stress. Whether you are smashing out a boxing class or going for a run, your body releases endorphins that can take away stress and anxiety, leaving you feeling calmer and happier. Especially in this busy, on-the-go lifestyle that so many of us lead, it is so important to give yourself that mental break and get active. So, here are the best stress-relieving exercises to leave you stress-free.
The 7 Best Stress-Relieving Exercises
When you think about reducing stress through exercise, most people tend to steer towards the intense, fast-paced activities. While there is definitely room for that (and we will get to them later), there is also a place for yoga. Yoga is the opposite, and it is this reason why it is a great stress-reliever. It calms your mind by helping you focus on your breathing and helps you find your serenity.
It is a mind-body practice that can really help your sense of wellbeing, along with all the other physical benefits as well such as improved flexibility, posture, and strength.
If you’re stressed, why not box it away? Often, we can hold in our anger and anxieties, which is very unhealthy to do. Boxing gives us a safe place to reduce our stress while letting us get in our exercise. Plus, it teaches us new skills as well.
Punching that punching bag as hard as you can stimulate the production of endorphins, helping you feel better instantly. Many people like to picture the source of their stress as the punching bag, which amps up the intensity, making it one of the best stress-relieving exercises!
HIIT has so many great mental health benefits, as well as physical ones. It consists of alternating between vigorous exercises with rest periods in between. Because it is shorter than the average workout class, it is very high in intensity. And once you get into your HIIT class, you’ll be too busy focusing on your exercises to even worry about whatever is stressing you out. And once the class is over, your endorphins will be running high and you will feel much better than when you started.
4. Group Training
Whatever group training exercise you enjoy, whether it is HIIT, aerobics, Zumba, it is one of the best stress-relieving exercises. This is because you will be surrounded by your friends who are also looking to get fit and healthy too. Being in a social environment and with people, you enjoy being with can really lift your mood and make you feel much better.
5. Desk Stretches
Sometimes, you’ll be really stressed out at work and you can’t leave. When this happens, try some of the best stress-relieving exercises at your desk:
Seated twist – You don’t even have to get up from your chair to do this one. Remain seated with your feet planted on the ground. Then twist the top half of your body to the left. Hold for 5 seconds, breathing in and out deeply before switching to the other side. This helps to relax the back muscles and elongates your spine, really helpful to clear your stress and reset your body after being seated all day.
Touch your toes – Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stretch both hands all the way up to the ceiling, really feeling the stretch in your back. Then fall forward to touch your toes (or however far you can reach) in a forward fold. Then inhale and stand back up, swinging your arms above you again and repeat. This will help to calm your mind and relieve your stress.
Pec stretch – You can remain seated or standing for this one. Bring your hands behind your head and clasp your fingers. Bring your elbows back as far as you can and squeeze. Hold it for a few breaths before releasing the tension and repeat. This is an easy one to do throughout the day, that loosens your pectoral muscles.
6. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is very gentle and meditative in practice, making it one of the best stress-relieving exercises you can do. It is based on the concept of qi (your energy flow) and works to balance both your physical and mental forces. Not only can it help tone your body and promote better balance but it reduces your stress and anxiety so you will be left with a calm and peaceful mind.
There is a reason why people tend to put on their running shoes and go for a run when they are feeling restless or anxious. There is something therapeutic about running, getting into the rhythm with your steps and breathing. Whether you do it outdoors or on the treadmill, running is one of the best stress-relieving exercises you can do.
It’s a constant exploration, trying to find the ideal combination of weekly workouts to help you lose weight, get stronger, feel better, and so on! So, regardless of what your stance is on strength training, or the use of slow reps to make you stronger, or just cardio, cardio, cardio, here is the case for high-intensity interval training or HIIT and strength training as the ideal training combo.
The HIIT Revolution
High-intensity interval training has made a lot of headlines in recent years, and there have been countless fitness routines and regimes designed to take advantage of this high-intensity aspect. But why does high-intensity training work so well? It all goes back to that age-old approach to building muscle by putting your body under a lot of duress. In doing such an intense amount of exercise, you aren’t just going for a basic run; you are pushing your body to the limit. Many say that cardio is only effective if you do it for a long period of time. With respect to HIIT, it’s all about utilizing the right intensity. Similarly to what felt at the end of a road race, but in the space of 10-20 minutes. One of the great things about HIIT is the more intense the effort the shorter the workout needs to be.
“HIIT is the closest thing we have to an exercise pill.”
For those that are unaware of HIIT, the basic premise is that you mix short bouts of intense exercise with longer periods of recovery. This is repeated for a specific duration. An example would be a period of time where you are working at 60 to 70 percent intensity, for a few minutes. And then, the next 30-60 seconds you would go “all-out,” at 100%! After that intense interval, your’e back at a moderate intensity, and continue using this undulating format for a specific duration. A few examples of this type of training include Insanity (bodyweight) workouts and P90X (using dumbbells) to offer a better picture.
There are many benefits to this type of training. One such benefit is that it’s a perfect choice for those who don’t have a lot of time to exercise. This is why it is such a useful component in modern exercise because many people can’t dedicate 5 or 6 sessions a week to commit to workout. But as an entryway into intense exercise, it is a perfect method for you to build up your resilience to strenuous exercise. Keep your HIIT to initially to 1-2 sessions a week. This leads us nicely to adding-in the next component, making this an ideal combination each week.
Strength training has become the most vital component of a workout routine. Now, as people are more obsessed with the aesthetics of exercise, flat abs, toned arms, etc., strength training is a fundamental component of getting this right. There are lots of workouts that focus heavily on strength training where are you perform compound exercises like, squat, bench press, barbell row, overhead press and deadlift. This type of protocol with these specific strength training exercises are usually done three times a week, meaning you’ve got time to live your life! But, it also gives you the opportunity to recover.
The main idea with this particular strength training format is that you start off light, but every time you complete the amount of repetitions required, you add 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) to the weight. So, there’s going to be a point where you will definitely plateau. As a result, this is one of the best ways to improve strength and other facets of your workout. And everybody can benefit from strength training. Many people, however, skip compound movements and focus on various isolation exercises instead.
The benefit of this type of strength training is that it forces the body to adapt and as a result, muscle and connective tissue become stronger. And because you are lifting so heavy, it places your body under the required amount of stress you need to build more muscle. And this is why it’s such a beneficial workout. Those who have been exercising for years may not feel the benefits as much, but for those who are looking for a perfect starting point to build muscle and strength, this is it. And when this gets combined with HIIT, you’ve got the perfect training package.
Combining HIIT and Strength
Going back to Insanity and P90X, these are good examples of strength training and HIIT working in tandem. Although Insanity is all about using your bodyweight, if you were to swap in free weights, as with P90X, and do HIIT in between those workout days, you’ll end up with a fat torching combo! The intensity of lifting heavy forces your body to recruit more muscle fiber, and it also helps with weight loss, because you increase your overall caloric expenditure. When you add high-intensity interval training, as in the form of Tabata sprints, it becomes a powerful combination. But be warned. Trying to implement both is a fantastic way for you to lose weight if you need it. Doing both together, though, is a very difficult thing indeed, and if you are trying something new like Insanity, it can be really challenging on your body.
The results will speak for themselves, although you should try it out, and build up a resilience to it, before implementing the other workout. The thing about both of these is that once your endurance improves, you will be able to push yourself even further in a workout. Naturally, there will be points when you plateau, but as a way to build strength and work capacity, you are going to be unstoppable if you do it right!
Use Jefit App to Plan & Track Workouts
Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!
“High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes physical exercise that is characterized by brief, intermittent bursts of vigorous activity, interspersed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise.”
Martin Gibala, PhD
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT burns more calories than other types traditional cardio exercise. For those who can’t even think about doing cardio, remember, high intensity interval training has many benefits. The big one being HIIT burns more calories in half the amount of time as traditional steady state exercise.
I’m sure you have your strength training routine down, especially if you’re using the Jefit workout app. The award-winning app has helped literally millions of members get stronger and in turn transform lives. The question, though, is what are you doing on the cardiovascular side of things? Staying strong is a must but so is maintaining aerobic fitness especially as you age. As this happens, you typically build work capacity, and subsequently can handle a higher volume in future strength workouts.
There are probably more research studies currently in progress, involving various forms of HIIT, than any other exercise-related research being conducted. A great deal of the HIIT research that has been published over the past decade by researchers like Martin Gibala, PhD, from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, continue to show amazing results when compared to traditional cardio exercise. Gibala and colleagues offer their definition of HIIT above.
In a study by Matsuo and colleagues (2014), a group of sedentary men performed 13-minutes of high intensity interval training five times a week for 8-weeks. The (HIIT) group burned more calories per minutes on average than men who performed 40-minutes of traditional steady state cardio. During the study the HIIT group saw a 12.5 percent gain in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) using 27 less minutes of exercise. Tomoaki Matsuo, Ph.D, co-author of the study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, suggest doing three-minute HIIT stages with two-minute active recovery stages repeated for three rounds.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (1990) by Makrides et al., showed that 12-weeks of high-intensity training produced greater increases in total work accomplished in 30-seconds in old (60-70 year old, 12.5 percent) than young (20-30 year old, 8 percent) test subjects.
One study in the journal Metabolism compared 20-weeks of aerobic training with only 15-weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT) in which participants did 15 sprints for 30-seconds and lost nine times more body fat than the aerobic and control groups. They also lost 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF HIIT
A study in the International Journal of Obesity compared the effect of 15-weeks of HIIT with aerobic exercise. The HIIT group resulted in significant decreases in overall fat mass (3.3 pounds) while the aerobic exercise group had a fat gain of 1 pound on average. The HIIT group also had a significant 9.5 percent decrease in belly fat, while the aerobic group increased their belly fat by 10.5 percent by the end of the study. A 2012 study at Colorado State University found that test subjects who worked out on a stationary bike for less than 25-minutes, with just a few sprints mixed in, expended an additional 200 calories a day, due to excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC) or commonly known as the after-burn effect.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Falcone and colleagues, compared the energy expenditure of single exercise sessions using resistance, aerobic, and combined exercise involving the same duration. The test subjects were young, active men. All sessions were 30-minutes. The resistance training session used 75 percent of their 1-RM, the aerobic session, on a treadmill, used 70 percent maximum heart rate while a high-intensity interval session (HIIT) session was done on a hydraulic resistance system (HRS). The HRS workout used intervals of 20-seconds of maximum effort followed by 40-seconds of rest. The HIIT session using the HRS had the highest caloric expenditure of the three workouts. The data suggest that individuals can burn more calories performing HIIT with HRS than spending the same amount of time performing steady-state exercise.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology looked at moderately active women who in their early twenties. The subjects were tested for power output on a stationary bike to determine what their VO2max was and then made to ride for 60-minutes at 60 percent of VO2max intensity. These tests were then repeated again at the end of the study to gauge the effectiveness of HIIT for this particular subject group. This particular training protocol showed some of the following results: a lower heart rate in the last 30-minutes of the 60-minute session, whole body fat oxidation increased significantly by 36 percent in only two-weeks using just 7 workout sessions.
A final study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism (2012), observed healthy but inactive people who exercised intensely. The research concluded even if the exercise is brief, it can produce an immediate change in DNA. “While the underlying genetic code in the muscle remains unchanged, exercise causes important structural and chemical changes to the DNA molecules within the muscles.”
There are many different HIIT formats available that an individual can choose from. A few examples of HIIT include, Tabata protocol, 30-20-10 protocol, 1 x 4 or the Go-To Workout. This last one is a favorite of many, including Martin Gibala, PhD, himself. It is performed often because it develops strength and cardiovascular fitness. The workout duration is only 10-minutes. Following a brief warm-up, alternate a bodyweight exercise, one for the upper and lower body, with some type of cardio exercise, like jumping rope. Each interval is 30-seconds long. Each set of exercise should be difficult to finish. You can decrease the intensity when it comes to the bouts of cardio. Repeat this sequence for 10-minutes. Here is an example of the Go-To Workout.
Warm-up for 3-5 minutes
Split Jumps (30-seconds)
Jump Rope (30-seconds)
Repeat x 2 rounds for 10-minutes. Instead of using 30-second intervals you could also use a specific number of repetitions for each set. Still not sure? HIIT burns more calories than traditional steady state cardio exercise.
As the HIIT research continues to prove, it is advantageous to supplement your current exercise routine with at least one HIIT session each week to maximize your training results. HIIT continues to show significant results when looking at total caloric expenditure, gains in VO2max, and elevated post oxygen consumption (EPOC). All this gained for just a few minutes of intense exercise!
USE THE JEFIT APP
Millions of members have had great success transforming their bodies using the Jefit app. The app is a customizable workout planner, training log, can track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.
Matsuo T, Saotome K, Seino S, Shimojo N, Matsushita A, Iemitsu M, Ohshima H, Tanaka K, Mukai C. (2014). Effects of a low-volume aerobic-type interval exercise on VO2max and cardiac mass. Sports Exerc. 46(1):42-50. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a38da8
Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, Joy JM, Mosman MM, McCann TR, Crona KP, Kim MP, Moon JR (2015). Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. Strength Cond Res. 29(3):779-85. doi: 10.1519/JSC.000000000000066
Makrides L. Heigenhauser GJ. Jones NL (1990). High-intensity endurance training in 20- to 30- and 60- to 70-yr-old healthy men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 69(5):1792-8.
Gibala, M., The One-Minute Workout. Avery: New York, 2017.
Sometimes you may feel you need a PhD just to understand the differences between all the cardio terminology. For example, do you grapple with how to perform a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session or a Tabata protocol? Do you understand the subtle differences? Not to worry, most people from my experience don’t really know either. The following information includes insight on some of the more well-known cardio terms that are used.
Cardio Terminology: The Difference Between HIIT and Tabata
Two of the main differences in these protocols are time and intensity. Tabata is completed in just four-minutes using maximal intensity. In respect to rest periods, Tabata has shorter rest periods then HIIT, which are always 10-seconds. Other HIIT protocols have longer recovery periods, typically 30-seconds to one-minute but sometimes up to two-minutes. Finally, Tabata involves 8 rounds of intense exercise using a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio (20 seconds on and 10 seconds off). The total workout time equates to only 4-minutes, not including warm-up and cool-down. Keep in mind, your heart rate and breathing are really elevated and you shouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation during that time.
The one key word in all of these cardio definitions is INTENSITY. The workout time is less than steady state cardio, therefore, it has to be performed at a higher intensity level. As explained by leading HIIT expert, Martin Gibala, PhD, author of the One-Minute Workout. “The harder you go, the shorter the duration and the fewer intervals you need to achieve the same benefits of a much longer endurance-training workout.”
The Obsession with Intervals
Athletes have been using forms of interval training since 1902, a runner by the name of Joe Binks was one of the first athletes to understand the value of this type of training. By 1910-12, it started gaining more popularity after a few Finnish Olympic runners won Gold medals using intervals as part of their training. It wasn’t until 1930, though, when Franz Stampfl, who coached Roger Bannister (world’s first sib-4-minute miler), took interval training to new heights. He is considered the person who “was responsible for introducing the notion of interval training as we know it today (Noakes).”
The idea behind interval training is to push your body past anaerobic threshold (typically 85 percent of maximum heart rate) for a desired time. Following this, you return back to more of a comfortable aerobic threshold before repeating this sequence for “x” amount of intervals depending on your proposed training outcome. The final goal is to improve your overall performance level.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT has gained popularity because it brings an understandable “to do” message that gets across to the public. Meaning, health guidelines continue to push 150-minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Another option for that is 75-minutes of vigorous exercise per week to accumulate health benefits. The issue however is most people don’t get close to reaching those numbers. HIIT is more manageable, more challenging yes, but doable. High intensity interval training is simply a method of training where the intensity of the workout is manipulated, in an undulating fashion, for a specific period of time.
I like to think of HIIT as the driver of the bus and all other cardio-type workouts (terminology) as unique features of the bus. Think of it like HIIT being the parent and their kids are Tabata, Fartlek and Intervals, all belonging to the same family but yet slightly different.
A big take away from HIIT is the following. The harder and faster you can work in a training session, the less time you need to exercise. Go as fast as you can using short bursts. As a results, you can get the same endurance benefits but with less than 5 percent of the time exercising hard. Not to mention you’re working out only a third of the time compared to someone doing traditional or steady state cardio (i.e. 150-minutes a week) for longer duration.
Who Created Tabata and What is it?
Why none other than Mr. Izumi Tabata, PhD, a Japanese research scientist. He actually had a little help from a Japanese Olympic speed skating coach but that’s a story for another day.
What is it? Tabata training is a method of endurance training. A 4-minute workout sounds way too simple I know but trust me, it’s not! The original study used a type of stationary bike and had test subjects perform seven to eight 20-second, all-out sprints, each separated by just 10 seconds of rest. Following 6-weeks of training college students, five days a week, participants increased their aerobic fitness by 14 percent.
By comparison, a second group – who performed more traditional steady state exercise on the same bike for 60 minutes – experienced an increase in aerobic fitness by only 10 percent. In other words, the 4-minute workout was found to be more effective than an hour of cycling at a moderate pace. Even more significant was the fact that the Tabata participants saw a 28 percent improvement in anaerobic capacity. This was the first study of its kind that showed both aerobic and anaerobic benefits received from biking.
What’s a Fartlek?
The word fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. Think of it as continuous running with intervals mixed in. The intensity of the intervals used depends on how good the person feels that day. Back in the 1930’s coaches started using this type of training with their athletes. According to the Science of Running website, “fartlek training was a very informal type of training where you vary the speed based on the athletes feel. This means you vary the speed throughout the run often times alternating fast/slow, or fast/medium, or medium/slow.”
Keep in mind, the different forms of interval training mentioned here are basically, high-intensity interval training. Each of which is very strenuous on the body and require only 1-2 sessions a week to obtain real benefits. More is not better when it comes to interval training. The focus should be about quality of training not quantity.
Workout and Stay Strong with Jefit
Millions of members are having great success using the Jefit app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.
Noakes, Tim, Lore of Running (4th edition), Human Kinetics: IL, 2003.
Gibala, Martin, The One-Minute Workout, Avery: New York, 2017.
First, some background on the well-known Tabata workout. The workout almost ended up having a name other than Tabata associated with it. The Japanese researcher did not design the exercise protocol he just showed how good it was at improving work capacity in athletes. The head coach of the Japanese speed skating team brought in Izumi Tabata, PhD, to work with the team back in the 1990’s. The coach wanted Dr. Tabata to analyze the efficacy of their training program. The training program used short 20-second bouts of high intensity exercise with brief 10-second rest periods. It was Dr. Tabata who subsequently showed the world, through his research, how effective this type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) actually was.
Misunderstanding in a Tabata Workout is Intensity Level
To begin with, most individuals end up performing a Tabata protocol incorrectly because they choose a low intensity. Looking back at the original research published in 1996 by Dr. Tabata you can see that his original training intensity was very high.
Subjects pedaled on a cycle ergometer for 60-minutes at a moderate intensity (70 percent of VO2 max). This is comparable to a long, slow jog. Subjects were male amateur athletes in their mid-twenties. Subjects exercised 5 hours a week. The anaerobic capacity did not change. The VO2max increased significantly during the training in this group.
Subjects pedaled for 20-seconds, followed by 10-seconds of rest, repeated 7-8 times for 4-minutes. This was performed at a maximal effort. The key word here is maximal, subjects worked at 170 percent of VO2 max. Subjects exercised 20-minutes a week. Anaerobic capacity increased by 23 percent after 4 wk of training. It increased further toward the end of the training period. After the training period, anaerobic capacity reached 77 ± 9 ml/kg/min. or 28 percent higher compared to pre-training capacity.
Both subject groups performed the exercise protocol for 6-weeks. During that time, subjects worked out either 5 days a week for a total of 5 hours a week or 20 minutes. After the training period, aerobic capacity or VO2max increased by 7 ml/kg/min. while anaerobic capacity improved by 28 percent.
Tabata Workout Protocol
The athletes used in the early work of Dr. Tabata were tested on a cycle ergometers. Therefore, certain exercises like a plank typically don’t elicit a high enough training intensity. Jump squats, on the other hand, work nicely because more muscle mass is involved. Finally, to mimic a true Tabata protocol, select exercises that utilize a large percentage of muscle mass not isolation type movements. A couple of suggested cardio products that would work are explosive bodyweight exercises, rowing ergometer, versa climber or running stairs.
Warm-up (suggested time 5:00) – Use a 2:1 work-to-rets ratio x 8 rounds
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
20-seconds of HIGH INTENSITY work
Cool-down (suggested time: 5:00)
14-minute total time, 4:00 High Intensity work
The idea is to complete as many repetitions of the exercise or movement in 20-seconds, rest briefly for 10-seconds and repeat this format 8 times. Lastly, the idea is to repeat the same exercise or movement or choose different exercises for each round.
Use the Jefit App to Build, Log & Track Your Workouts
The Jefit app now has the ability to perform and log interval based workouts like Tabata Protocol. Stay Strong!