HIIT – The Turtle and The Hare

By Dan Piper, Personal Trainer, Workout4Results.com

“The greatest benefit of high intensity training – fat loss – is also the greatest benefit of low intensity training.” Dan Piper


HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training is quite the rage.  A typical workout might look like this:

-Sprint around the block, 2 minutes of burpees, 8 Barbell Clean n’ Press, 8000 Crunch variations, 1 minute hand stand, 30 Kettlebell Snatches per side, Scream, growl like an animal…Rest 2 Minutes, then repeat (workout goes for 1 hour like this)

It includes any type of loaded strength workout where the rest intervals are shorter than the work intervals no matter what it’s labeled and sold as for commercial causes.  Should you join the fad?

When you’re done reading this today, you will understand:

Why to workout with HIIT.

Why to also workout at low intensities.

When and how to use both types of training to your benefit.

For me, the most obvious thing that most of the population doesn’t understand is that our bodies were not meant to be trained like this, at least not in the way we think. Look at any professional athlete…take a sprinter for example.  Simply put, they workout for competition, at competition  level, for just a small part of the year.  The rest of the year is spent in preparation – almost none of which is at HIIT levels, and if it is, it’s on a periodized table, so it’s done for a short, specific period of time before completely changing the  protocols.  So, if a professional athlete isn’t able to handle this type of training year round,  what’s the benefit for a population full of lab technicians and desk jockeys?

Look… as a Coach, what I see most of is  folks trying to balance out one extreme with another, mixed with a knowledge deficit.  Have you ever asked yourself while you sweat it out on the elliptical for some of your hardest earned non-working hours, why the fitness craze and the gym craze hasn’t hit Europe with 1/6th the penetration rate that it has here?  I mean, there are some seriously hot people there, no!?  The answer is that we are in the gyms, balancing out the very extremes we create to begin with.  In other words, the more good habits you have outside of the gym and the more you are using your thinking cap when it comes to maintaining health, the higher quality workout you will have at the gym, and the less work you’ll have to do.  This renders HIIT workouts practically unnecessary.

When it comes to fat loss, we burn fat at the lowest intensities, as much as with the highest, or >80%VO2 max.  This explains why people in other countries are also good looking, and don’t have big box gyms – they walk.  The body uses fat as it’s primary energy source when you are doing ANYTHING active at low intensity.  So get yourself moving OFTEN, and stop working out so hard, you show off.

High Intensity Training does have it’s place though, for those who can demonstrate considerable proficiency in weight training.   I recommend training this way once to twice per week for about 2 months, and then moving on to something else.  It has tremendous benefit and metabolic response – just look at this as your “ON” season…just remember not to play tackle football year around – even the pro’s don’t!!  Don’t forget the “move on” part though – resist the addiction!  When you go from lifting the equivalent of a pickup full of furniture each workout, to a fully loaded semi – things you won’t like will start happening in your  body (and brain).  And you will be the 1000th crazy, wily eyed individual who has looked at me and sworn to be the exception – Congrads! – do it your own way.  Be the Hare.  Just know that the turtle ALWAYS wins.




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