What is HIIT? Featuring guest coach Bryan Francis
You hear it all the time, HIIT, aka high intensity interval training-dubbed as one of the most difficult and effective workouts we can do, but why? We’ve consulted a professional HIIT master, Brian Francis from The Academy TPC in Sacramento to fill us in. Bryan personally tortures us with his HIIT program bi-weekly, and we want to share the love.
“As athletes and exercisers become more educated on the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) versus steady-state cardio, the number of people using interval programs continues to increase. Just as with anything being done by large amounts of people, some will understand how to do it correctly, while others will convince themselves that what they’re doing would be considered high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Let me clarify something right from the beginning. I’m referring only to cardio-intervals to help enhance fat loss & cardiovascular fitness. These programs can be done on cardio machines, outdoors, or using weights.
Intervals can be described using one word…….INTENSITY!!! The intensity is what’s going to determine if you’re actually completing an interval or not. So many times I see people claiming that they’re doing intervals, when actually they are training at an intensity a 10 year old could maintain. To put it quite simply, intervals are probably one of the most challenging & exhausting movements you can complete in a gym or outside. Each interval requires 100% focus and determination to get through that one single interval. There is no way you can hold a conversation or “people watch” while you're in a working set of an interval, and if you can, then the INTENSITY is nowhere close to where it needs to be to gain any type of benefit.
So here’s the million-dollar question: How do you know where your intensity should be at each working set? TRIAL & ERROR. It doesn’t get any more simple and effective than that. The first time you set out on an interval program you’re doing to 1 of 2 things.
1) You’re going to go at an intensity that is way too high for you to maintain through the desired length of time
2) You’re going to pace yourself and not push yourself to the level that’s going to create benefits from the program.
Always expect the first time through to be a learning experience of what you can and can not do. The next time you come back to that interval-program you’ll have a plan of attack that will benefit you tremendously in decreasing fat and increasing your cardiovascular fitness.
Pro Tip: Focus on each interval as being a maximum effort from start to finish. For example, if you are supposed to run on a treadmill for 60 seconds, your intensity needs to be so high that you can run at that speed for 60 seconds, but there is no way in hell you would be able to go another 10-15 seconds. If you're not near maximum effort at the end of each interval then YOU’RE NOT DOING HIIT!
You also have to make sure that you don’t start at an intensity so high that you can’t complete the full 60 second interval. As you progress into more and more advanced interval programs, you learn what your intensity levels are for each working set. Record your programs and track your progress. Intervals are a very challenging and uncomfortable task to perform, but if you can learn to be “comfortable with being uncomfortable” you’ll take your results & fitness to a whole new level. Challenge really does create change. Apply that and you’ll never go wrong.”
- Bryan Francis, BS, CSCS & Owner of The Academy TPC
PS- If you’re in Sacramento and want in on the fun, Tues/Thurs 6am at The Academy, we would love to workout with you!