Intensity at What Cost?

Intensity

Do you like the intensity of HIIT workouts?

I’ve written articles on Intensity before, but this one is to address intensity for intensity’s sake.

Intensity is where the results are so it’s definitely a good thing. You can’t reach goals without pushing your limits.

Intensity

 

However, I’m seeing so many gyms and routines focused on intensity lately and often it’s just for intensity sake. Everything is made harder just so it’s harder.

#JustAddBurpees

It’s intensity for intensity’s sake and this is how we run into problems. Problems like injuries.

If you’ve gotten an injury from your workout, you’re doing it wrong. You’ve pushed well beyond your capacity and your body couldn’t handle it.

When the only goal is finishing your workout in a pool of your own sweat on the floor, this isn’t a good thing. If the idea is to “crush anybody that tries this” then the workout doesn’t have any other goal. It’s not specific to any person.

Smart intensity knows your limits and pushes on that. It makes it hard for YOU.

Stop focusing on intensity for intensity’s sake. This usually means pushing well past our limits and this type of training often ends with injury.

If you’re going to push, you need to know why you’re pushing and how far to push. You need to know how that pushing will benefit you, not harm you.

~ Chad

I won’t sacrifice your health for faster “gains”

Gain

Yes you are pursuing your fitness goal with maximal intensity, but is it at the sacrifice of other areas of your health?

I’m seeing this more and more lately so I wanted to address it.

Here’s my perspective:

I’m a Kinesiologist.

For the purposes of this article, all that means is that I study the movement and function of the body and how it works.

As a fitness coach, what this means is that when I create an exercise program for someone, I’m not only looking at their end goal and what they are trying to achieve, I’m also looking at their body and how well it functions.

What I see so much of today in the fitness industry is a singular focus intensity. Everyone wants HIIT workouts that “make me sweat”.

The good news from a coaching perspective is that making a workout hard is easy. I see endless amounts of videos on Facebook and Instagram of people creating insane workouts and super challenging variations of exercises. My personal simplification of it is: #JustAddBurpees

And it does make sense because intensity is how we get results.

It’s easy to make someone sweat and it’s easy to make someone work hard and push their intensity.

However, this often comes at a sacrifice to other areas of health or function in the body.

I see this in high intensity workout programs that don’t address body proper body mechanics and this creates added strain on joints and connective tissue.

I’m tired of seeing olympic lifts for added intensity meanwhile the knees and back are bending in ways that anyone watching knows is not right.

Bottom line, I’m not willing to make intensity the highest priority at the sacrifice of another area of health or physical function just for faster gains.

In my coaching I take the time to build a solid foundation with each client based on their individual needs. I take time to make sure they move and function well and I make sure they don’t develop other health issues just to lose a few quick pounds.

Unfortunately this process takes a lot longer than what we tend to see put in front of us online, but I don’t care.

I won’t sacrifice long term health for a short term result.

My goals is to help you create a body that not only looks good, but will function great for the rest of your life!

~ Chad

HIIT Workouts – the pro’s and con’s

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts seem to be a lot more popular lately. Well, maybe it’s not that they’re more popular but the term “HIIT” itself is more popular. For me it’s been popping up a lot more so I figured I might as well write a post about it 🙂

A couple examples of HIIT programs are:

  • P90x
  • T25
  • Bootcamps
  • CrossFit
  • Tabata

In a basic sense, HIIT workouts alternate between periods of high intensity with periods of rest. The length of each period can vary greatly depending on who’s writing your program or hopefully what you’re training for.

HIIT workouts can have a lot of benefits too:

  • Improved anaerobic capacities
  • Improved aerobic capacities
  • Shorter workout times to fit busy schedules
  • Sustained increase in metabolic rate for longer periods after workouts
  • Reducing risk factors of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Improving Insulin sensitivity
  • Generally less boring than sustained state workouts

As you can see, there are many reasons to use a high intensity workout in your routine. In fact, I’m always looking at how I can help my clients increase the intensity in workouts, ONCE they’ve reached an appropriate level of fitness.

My main concern with any workout program is to make sure that it’s appropriate for the desired goals and current fitness level of the individual. All too often I see something like a HIIT workout being given to a client who’s not ready for it. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Just because it CAN have a ton of benefits doesn’t mean it the right thing to do.

I say CAN have a ton of benefits because sometimes I feel it may not be worth it. There are risks that come along with intensity and it’s important to make sure your body is ready for the challenge.

Some of the cons of HIIT workouts are:

  • Increase toxicity in the body
  • Extreme muscle soreness
  • Risk of injury

These risks are generally greater for anyone just starting into a fitness routine. If you’ve been consistent with a routine for a while, then a HIIT workout program might be a great option for you.

It’s the intensity itself is the main risk for beginners.

By pushing your body too fast, too far, too soon you’re setting yourself up for failure. Injury is the biggest concern because usually your joints aren’t strong enough and your technique isn’t solid. As you push intensity, it’s going to challenge anyone’s technique. Poor technique at a high intensity is a recipe for injury.

Also, high intensity produces a lot of metabolic breakdown of muscle and fat tissue in your workout. This can lead to extreme muscle soreness lasting many days and potentially challenge the body’s ability to effectively filter the toxins out of your body leading to major health risks.

I don’t want to stop anyone from using a high intensity routine, I just want to inform people so they know when to use it.

In my opinion, intensity is where the results are. I’m a strong believer in the value of high intensity workouts.

That being said, intensity is relative. If you’re starting from couch potato status, walking or cycling for 30 minutes is an increase in intensity. There’s no need to be doing 400m repeats on day 1.

As always, progression in your workouts is going to be your best bet for long term success.

What HIIT workout programs have you tried and what have been your results?

Intensity… might be good for an Olympian but is it right for you?

Intensity…

image

It’s all the rage right now.  High intensity interval training (or HIIT) has been all over the place for a couple of years now, touting the fact that you can get an amazing, crazy workout in 20 minutes.  But is it crazy to think that that’s safe? Maybe, maybe not.

Your body needs to be pushed to it’s limits every once in a while in order to grow, get stronger, and bust plateaus but that certainly doesn’t mean that you need to be going at an 11 on a scale of 1-10, 7 days a week!  Trainers like Chad find that with high intensity sometimes comes injury and we all know that with injury comes NO intensity so we have to learn to workout smart. Any pro will tell you that while it’s great to workout 5 or 6 days a week, if you’re pushing out 5 million squats at a rapid pace you’re probably doing them wrong and you might be in for an injured hammy or worse!  What’s most important is that we learn the perfect form first and then work ourselves up to 5 million reps (or 10 if you’re like me).

image

Don’t get me wrong, intensity is crucial to move your body in the right direction and to meet your fitness goals but we have to remember that for a couch potato, walking around the block is high intensity. Each body is different, listen to yours. No matter who you are and how often your train, always remember that the body needs rest and recovery periods in order to repair and get stronger. After talking with Chad I think it’s a great idea to add one high intensity training day in to my regular weekly workout.  Maybe I’ll do sprints, maybe lift heavier weights, maybe a billion burpee’s (although I highly doubt I’ll even do one), any way you cut it I’ll be looking to add some pow to my regular routine but I’ll keep the focus on keeping my body healthy and away from injury.

Are you doing any HIIT?  Is it working for you?