Just having my daily Quad Toddy (quadruple Cortado) at the best coffee shop in town, Muddy Waters (whoot, whoot), and as usual, I run into clients and potential clients with great questions on how to reach their fitness goals. First off, kudos to everyone out there taking classes and hiring coaches to help them get fit! Question: "I'm doing yoga, pilates and HIIT (high intensity interval training) 3-5 days a week, but I'm not seeing the results for my effort. What gives?!?" Let's give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to eating and sleeping habits, and focus on exercise!
So my initial answer to this question starts with a couple of questions:
1. What's your goal???
2. How many true resistance training sessions, and how intense, do you do out of those 3-5 days? Their answer, I'm doing HIIT as my strength training. My answer, HIIT is NOT strength training!!!
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is not educating themselves on the various "systems" and the results they should expect from them. HIIT training is very popular right now and a great way to improve fitness and burn calories, BUT it is not strength training!!! Loading parameters for resistance training should be between 60-90% of your 1 rep max for the exercise. HIIT training sessions often use loads that are too light to be constituted as strength adaptation. Volume and Intensity (load) are critical factors if you want to build muscle. Why should you build muscle? Building muscle is fundamental to getting lean and looking good naked!! The amount of repetitions you can do with a load indicates the phase of training you are in. Let's take the Barbell Squat as an example. If you can squat the load 15 or more times, you are not strength training! To be fair, you will be working on strength endurance. However, if your set doesn't approach good-form failure from 5-15 repetitions, then the load is too light. The science behind strength training is well established and beyond the scope of this post.
In closing, just about everyone should be doing at least 2-3 days of true strength training weekly. Focus on compound movements like the squat, deadlift, overhead press and horizontal/vertical rows. Perform 10-15 WORK reps (1-3 warm-up or ramp-up sets) for the big 3-Barbell Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press and 20-30 WORK reps for smaller groups of muscles. This is just a baseline and depends heavily on your training age and experience. Use HIIT finishers of 5-15 minutes to burn extra calories and build your conditioning. Boom! Kettlebell swings, Get-ups, Assault bike sprints, farmer's carries, and sled training work well for HIIT!