Massive Eating Part I – Calorie Calculations

First published at, Mar 2 2001.

Note: See Part 2 here: Massive Eating – Part II – Meal Combinations and Individual Differences

Pretend you’re back in high school and mean ol’ Mr. Berardi has just passed out a pop quiz. Luckily, there’s only one question:

Which of the following statements is true?

A) Most people succeed in training well enough to grow, but they fail in eating well enough to grow.

B) Most people eat well enough to grow, but they don’t train well enough to grow.

Pencils down. Okay, which is it? If you said “A,” give yourself a gold star. But don’t feel too badly if you chose “B.” To an extent, both answers are correct. Most people probably train and eat incorrectly! But if I had to pick one answer that was more true than the other, I’d say “A” would be the best choice. If you’re not growing, it’s probably your diet, not your training, that’s holding you back.

With this article I’m throwing down the gauntlet. This is your wake up call if you’ve ever made any of the following statements:

  • “I eat a lot of food. In fact, it feels like I’m eating all day! But I just can’t get any bigger.”
  • “I can’t gain a pound of muscle. My parents are both skinny, so it must be genetic.”
  • “I’ve always had a fast metabolism. That’s why I can stay lean but can’t get any bigger.”
  • “I’m scared to go on a bulking diet because I don’t want to lose my abs.”
  • “I’ve tried mass-building diets before and put on a little muscle, but most of the weight I gained was fat.”

Sound familiar? Then this article is for you, toothpick legs.

What You’re Doing Wrong

Now you may be asking, “If I’m not eating well enough to grow, Mr. Smartypants, what am I doing wrong?”

In my opinion, there are three major things that most people do incorrectly when trying to gain muscle mass:

  • They don’t understand energy balance (calories in vs. calories out).
  • They don’t eat the right foods at the right times (poor meal combinations).
  • They don’t learn their physiological responses to nutrients (insulin sensitivity, carb, and fat tolerance).

Below (and in Part II) I’ll describe practical ways to fine tune all three.

By the end of this series, you should know how much food you need to grow, what combination’s of foods you should eat and when you should eat them, and how to figure out your own personal, individualized macro nutrient needs.

Energy Balance: You might be surprised!

So what is energy balance? Here’s the simple equation:

Energy Balance = Energy Intake – Energy Expenditure

Energy intake is made up of what you eat and drink. Energy expenditure is made up of several factors including resting metabolic rate (RMR), calorie cost of activity, thermic effect of food (TEF), and adaptive thermogenesis (the X factor). The balance of intake and expenditure is an important factor in weight gain or loss. If you have a positive energy balance (intake exceeds expenditure), you gain weight. A negative energy balance (intake is less than expenditure) dictates that you’ll lose weight. Simple enough.

Remember, however, that energy balance is only one factor in getting massive (or getting lean for that matter). And although it’s the most basic and simplest part of understanding your needs for growth, ironically, most people totally screw it up! So let me be your metabolic guide. Below I’ll provide some practical ways to navigate through the harsh jungle of energy balance equations so that you’ll emerge ready to tackle the challenge of muscle growth. Pick up your pencils again, class. Better yet, grab a calculator!

Step #1: Resting Metabolic Rate

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the energy it costs the body to basically keep alive. This doesn’t include the costs of getting your butt out of bed and moving around; those numbers are calculated in later. Although you might not guess it, about 50 to 70 percent of your entire day’s calorie expenditure is a result of the RMR. So, let’s figure out your RMR right now.

Determining RMR:

To start off with, you need to take your body weight in pounds and convert it to kilograms. (International readers, please bear with us silly non-metric Americans for a moment.) This is a simple conversion. Just divide your body weight by 2.2.

Next you take your percent of fat and multiply it by your body weight (which is now in kilograms). This will give you your fat mass (FM) in kilograms. Next simply subtract this number from your total weight in kilograms and you’ll have your fat free mass (FFM) in kilograms.

Before we go on, why don’t we try this out on me. Since I’m an athlete with a body weight of 200lbs at 5% body fat, I’d take my total body mass and divide it by 2.2:

Total body mass in kilograms = 200lbs / 2.2 = 91 kg

Next I’d multiply this kilogram number (91 kg) by my percent of body fat. Remember, percents are really decimals so 5% equals 0.05, 12% bodyfat will be .12 etc.

Fat Mass = 91kg x 0.05 = 4.55kg FM

Next I subtract this fat mass number (4.55 kg) from my total body mass (91kg):

Fat Free Mass = 91kg – 4.55kg = 86.45kg

Therefore my fat free mass is 86.45 kilograms. From that I can determine my RMR. The formula for RMR is as follows:

Resting Metabolic Rate for Athletes (in calories per day) = 500 + 22 x fat free mass (in kilograms).

Again, for me, I’d multiply 22 times my fat free mass and add 500 to that number as shown below:

RMR= 22 x 86.45 + 500 = 2402

Therefore my resting metabolic rate is about 2400 calories per day. Everyone have their RMR figured out? Good, let’s move on.

Step #2: Cost of Activity

The Cost of Activity represents how many calories are required to move your butt around during the day. This includes the cost of walking out to your car, scraping the ice off the damn thing, driving to work, pinching the secretary’s ass, going to lunch with the boys, and of course, training after work. These factors make up about 20 to 40% of your daily caloric intake based on your activity level. So let’s figure out your costs of activity. I’ll use myself as an example again.

Determining Activity Costs:

Cost of Daily Activity is equal to the RMR you calculated above multiplied by an activity factor that fits your daily routine. I’ve listed some common activity factors below.

Activity Factors:

  • 1.2-1.3 for Very Light (bed rest)
  • 1.5-1.6 for Light (office work/watching TV)
  • 1.6-1.7 for Moderate (some activity during day)
  • 1.9-2.1 for Heavy (labor type work)

Note: Don’t consider your daily workout when choosing a number. We’ll do that later.

With this information we can get back to determining my calorie needs. Since I work at a university, most of my day is pretty sedentary. Even though I run back and forth between the lab and classes, I’ve selected 1.6 as my activity factor. Therefore the amount of calories it takes to breathe and move around during the day is about 3800 calories as shown below:

RMR x Activity Factor = 2400 calories x 1.6 = 3800 calories

Costs of Exercise Activity:

Next, we need to determine how many calories your exercise activity burns so that we can factor this into the totals. Exercise activity can be calculated simply by multiplying your total body mass in kilograms (as calculated above) by the duration of your exercise (in hours). Then you’d multiply that number by the MET value of exercise as listed below. (MET or metabolic equivalent, is simply a way of expressing the rate of energy expenditure from a given physical activity.)

MET values for common activities:

  • high impact aerobics – 7
  • low impact aerobics – 5
  • high intensity cycling – 12
  • low intensity cycling – 3
  • high intensity walking – 6.5
  • low intensity walking – 2.5
  • high intensity running – 18
  • low intensity running – 7
  • circuit-type training – 8
  • intense free weight lifting – 6
  • moderate machine training – 3

So here’s the formula:

Cost of Exercise Activity = Body Mass (in kg) x Duration (in hours) x MET value

And here’s how I calculate it for myself:

Exercise Expenditure for weights = 6 METS X 91kg x 1.5 hours = 819 calories
Exercise Expenditure for cardio = 3 METS X 91 kg x .5 hours = 137 calories

Add these two together and I burn 956 total calories during one of my training sessions.

Since my training includes about 90 minutes of intense free weight training and 30 minutes of low intensity bicycling (four times per week), my exercise energy expenditure might be as high as 1000 calories per training day!
The next step is to add this exercise number to the number you generated when multiplying your RMR by your activity factor (3800 calories per day in my case).

So 3800 calories + about 1000 calories = a whopping 4800 calories per day! And we’re not done yet! (Note: I rounded 956 up to 1000 for the sake of simplicity. If you’re a thin guy trying to gain muscle, it’s better to round up anyway than to round down.)

Step #3: Thermic Effect of Food

TEF is the amount of calories that it takes your body to digest, absorb, and metabolize your ingested food intake. This makes up about 5 to 15% of your total daily calorie expenditure. Since the metabolic rate is elevated via this mechanism 10 to 15% for one to four hours after a meal, the more meals you eat per day, the faster your metabolic rate will be. This is a good thing, though. It’s far better to keep the metabolism high and eat above that level, than to allow the metabolism to slow down by eating infrequently. Protein tends to increase TEF to a rate double that of carbs and almost triple that of fats so that’s one of the reasons why I’m a big fan of protein meals.

Determining the Thermic Effect of Food:

To determine the TEF, you need to multiply your original RMR value (2400 in my case) by 0.10 for a moderate protein diet or 0.15 for a high protein diet. So this is what the formula looks like:

TEF = RMR x 0.10 for moderate protein diet (1 gram per pound of bodyweight)
TEF = RMR x 0.15 for high protein diet (more than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight)

Since I eat a very high protein diet (about 350 to 400 grams per day), I use the 0.15 factor and my TEF is about 360 calories per day as displayed by the calculation below:

Thermic Effect of Food = 2400 calories x 0.15 = 360 calories per day

Now add that to your calorie total.

Step #4: Adaptive Thermogenesis

I like to call Adaptive Thermogenesis the “X factor” because we just aren’t sure how much it can contribute to daily caloric needs. Some have predicted that it can either increase daily needs by 10% or even decrease daily needs by 10%. Because it’s still a mystery, we typically don’t factor it into the equation.

Just for interest’s sake, one factor included in the “X factor” is unconscious or spontaneous activity. Some people, when overfed, get hyper and increase their spontaneous activity and even have been known to be “fidgety.” Others just get sleepy when overfed – obviously the fidgeters will be burning more calories that the sleepy ones.

Other factors include hormone responses to feeding, training, and drugs, hormone sensitivity (insulin, thyroid, etc), stress (dramatically increases metabolic rate) or temperature induced metabolic changes (cold weather induces increased metabolic activity and heat production).

With all that said, you don’t need to do any math on this part or fiddle with your calorie total. This is just something to keep in mind.

Step #5: Putting it all together

Okay, so how many damn calories do you need to consume each and every day? Well, adding up RMR plus activity factor (3800 calories in my case), cost of weight training (819 calories), cost of cardio (137 calories), and TEF (360 calories), we get a grand total of about 5116 calories! (Remember, that’s just my total. You’ll get a different number.)

Now that’s a lot of food! And I must eat this each and every day when I want to gain weight. Are you surprised at how many calories I need? Most people are. So the next time you complain that you’re “eating all day and can’t gain a pound” you’d better realistically evaluate how much you’re really eating. If you’re not gaining a pound, then you’re falling short on calories.

The Secret is in the Surplus!

So at this point, the keen T-mag readers that aren’t afraid of massive eating might ask the question, “Since this is technically just your maintenance level, how can you get bigger by eating this amount? Wouldn’t you need more?” The answer is simple. Since I train only four days per week this diet would meet my needs on those four days. But on my three off days per week I’d be in positive calorie balance by about 1,000 calories per day! (That extra thousand calories isn’t being used when training, in other words.) This adds up to a surplus of 3,000 calories per week. And this is where the growth happens!

I especially like this “staggered model” because rather than trying to stagger your calorie intake on a daily basis by eating different amounts of food on different days, I let my training cycle my calories for me. This way I can eat the same thing every day while preventing my body from adapting to that habitual level of intake. Just like we vary our training to prevent adaptation, prevention of dietary adaptation is one of the secrets to changing your body composition.

At this point, I want to stop and give you a week to think about your energy needs. Go do the math if you haven’t already, figure out how many calories you need, and take some time to compose yourself. After you’ve realized that you’ve been grossly under-eating, start thinking about ways to add calories to your diet. In the next installment we’ll discuss how to design an eating program that’s individualized for your own needs. We’ll also get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about what kinds of foods you should and shouldn’t be eating. I’ll meet you back here next week!

Written by John Berardi

Note: See Part 2 here: Massive Eating – Part II – Meal Combinations and Individual Differences

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Massive Eating Part I – Calorie Calculations discussion thread.

About John Berardi:

John Berardi is the author of Precision Nutrition, the nutrition system used by his personal clients and athletes to build lean, muscular, high-performance physiques in record time.

Warm up for your spine

Below are some great exercises to warm up your spine before a workout!

Foam Roll

In the book, The Development of Muscular Bulk & Power, Anthony Ditillo recommends simply laying on a flat bench with your arms behind your head and eyes closed for 15 minutes prior to a workout.

During this time, he advises utilizing visualization of the upcoming workout to encourage a positive state and enhance performance. (By the way, this book was originally published in 1971 and much of the information still holds true today – it is an excellent read!)

Charles Poliquin, a highly successful strength coach, takes this a step further by having his athletes lay on a 6-inch foam roll also for 15 minutes before their workout to help decompress the spine by opening up the intervertebral spaces. Apparently, laying on the foam roll – referred to as a spine roller by physiotherapists – lengthwise along the spine will help restore normal spinal curvatures since gravity acts downwards, straightening the spine at the apex of excessive curvatures (generally reducing kyphosis.) Since this method allows for optimal nerve conduction, Poliquin claims that it will increase strength by up to 3%.

I have found that a greater effect is achieved if the base of the skull (i.e. suboccipital area) is placed at the edge of the roll causing slight cervical extension. This seems to pull the spine allowing a greater decompressive effect. Try it both ways and see if you can feel the difference.

Fig. 1 – Slight cervical extension for a greater effect.

For small individuals, use a child’s swim noodle – you know, the one they float on when swimming – which can be purchased for a few dollars at any Wal-Mart store. Larger individuals should invest in a 6-inch foam roll; you can purchase one from Fitter International.

Fig. 2 – Use a child’s swim noodle for small individuals.

Fig. 3 – Use a 6-inch foam roll for larger individuals.

Camel/Cat Exercise

The camel and “mad” cat are 2 classic exercises which stretch the abdominals and back respectively and are prescribed in many rehabilitation programs. Dr. Stuart McGill, a spinal biomechanist and professor at the University of Waterloo, recommends this series of exercises to “floss” the nervous system and reduce viscosity.

Perform 5-6 cycles and do not press the end range (make sure to involve the cervical spine.) McGIll stresses that this method is not a stretch, but rather gentle motion. By getting nerves to move, they can create their own space; it’s not enough to just stretch them! Also, it is a good idea to avoid these exercises first thing in the morning. Wait at least one hour after awakening.

That is the critical period since your tissue is superhydrated at that point resulting in an 18% loss of strength in the spine and risk of injury is heightened!

Fig. 4 – The camel exercise.

Fig. 5 – The “mad” cat exercise.

Pelvic Rocks on a Swiss ball

Pelvic rocks are actually an extension of the camel/cat exercise described above; however, they are not limited to just one plane of movement. Rehabilitation specialist, Paul Chek, recommends this series of exercises as a method to pump fresh fluid through the spinal discs to nourish the tissues. Pelvic rocks involve forward & backward, side-to-side, and circular movements on the Swiss ball.

The goal with this (and any other active warm-up for that matter) is to gradually increase speed and range of motion. Basically, cue “further” and “faster” to your clients as they progress. If practiced enough, they may even improve their dancing skills!

Figs. 6 & 7 – Forward and backward pelvic rocks.

Figs. 8 & 9 – Side-to-side pelvic rocks.

Figs. 10-13 – Circular pelvic rocks.

There you have it – three easy methods to warm-up the spine for activity. Keep in mind that I have not touched upon any stretches; that will be the focus of a future article. However, if you are currently experiencing some form of low back pain, then you should practice all these exercises on a regular basis. For preventative measures and to possibly increase strength, perform at least one of the methods before your workout.

Really, how hard is it to lay on a foam roll for a few minutes? Your spine will thank you.

Written by John Paul Catanzaro, B.Sc., C.K., P.F.L.C.

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Warm up Your Spine discussion thread.

Drug-Free and squatting 1003lbs

Can a drug-free man squat with over 1000 lbs?

If so, how does he do it? What are his training secrets?

This article is going to answer the above questions by telling you about a man by the name of James Pitt Bull Searcy. Big James is a 38 year old man standing 6 foot, 2 inches tall and weighing in at a massive 330 lbs. James has been training with weights for about 16 years and powerlifting for the past 11 years. He is the 6 time WNPF (World Natural Powerlifting Federation) World Champion as well as the winner of numerous other powerlifting titles and awards.

One of the things which makes James so unique is that he has accomplished so much without the aid of tissue building drugs (steroids etc.) and without the aid of powerlifting gear such as squat suits and bench shirts. In fact, it is only very recently that he has begun to use a squat suit.

James’ squatting prowess borders on the ludicrous! For example, he has squatted with over 900 lbs for reps in a workout using only 10 year old knee wraps and a belt! This kind of raw strength is very rarely seen even at the highest levels of powerlifting and the fact that he does it drug-free harkens back to the days of Paul Anderson (another man with prodigious leg power).

James’ Routine

You might think James has some training secret which allows him to handle such incredible loads with relative ease. Powerlifting is rife these days with chains, bands, reverse bands, and various other specialty exercises and apparatus. It will most likely surprise you to know that James uses virtually none of these. James’ training is old-fashioned hard work mixed with some of the most basic exercises known to the lifting world. The following exercises encompass James’ entire regimen:

  • Squat (2 varieties)
  • Leg Press
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Basic and brutally heavy is the mantra for James!

James trains on a 12 week cycle between competitions or maximum lift attempts. His training follows an instinctive approach in that the weights and rep scheme he will use for a given workout are not set in stone. This flexibility in his training should not be misconstrued as haphazard. James follows set parameters but is smart enough to leave room for the variability that is inevitable with the human body and training with weights.

James trains his legs once per week on Sundays. He finds that this allows him maximum recovery between workouts. Depending on your personal recovery ability and level of experience you might find more frequent training better suited to your personal needs.

I am going to detail James’ exact workout he used as week one of his most recent 12 week cycle (started immediately after squatting with 1003 lbs rather easily!). I will then detail the basic parameters of how he plans to progress through the 12 week cycle until his next competition.

Workout 1

Leg Press (to warmup the thighs): James used 800 lbs for 2 sets of 20 repetitions. He is not using knee wraps for this exercise. A warmup for James, this might be a lifetime best for other mere mortal men!

Squats: After his thighs are primed with the leg presses he is ready for his squat routine.

  • 135 x 2 sets x 10 reps
  • 225 x 10 reps
  • 315 x 5 reps
  • 405 x 2 sets x 10 reps

His heaviest set was performed with 405 lbs for 2 sets of 10. These were performed with no knee wraps. You will note that works out to roughly 40% of his 1 repetition maximum (1RM) for 2 sets of 10.

Box Squats: This is a new exercise for James. It was recommended to him by Steve Goggins the record holding 275 lb powerlifter who has squatted over 1100 lbs himself!

  • 225 x 2 sets x 10 reps

Leg Press: It is now back to the leg press for James and these sets are performed as working sets, not warm-ups.

  • 1000 x 2 sets x 20 reps

Stiff-Legged Deadlifts: James performs these on a 3 inch box to increase his range of motion (ROM).

  • 315 x 2 sets x 10 reps

That’s it. As you probably already noted James does not train to failure. He keeps within the limits of his power and only pushes himself all-out when competing.

James’ first session of his 12 week cycle involves what is very light (for him) squatting. This session lays the foundation for his progression over the following weeks. James will perform the exact exercises and total number of sets for each of his subsequent workouts. The variation will be in weights used and repetitions performed.

James graduates his heavy sets of squats by 50-100 lbs per week. On the leg press (not his warmup sets, he keeps those at 800 lbs throughout the 12 week cycle) he moves up by 100-200 lbs per week until he maxes out the apparatus at 1500 lbs. He then increases the reps weekly until he is doing 2 sets of 30 with 1500 lbs!

As James progresses in resistance on his standard squats he will gradually decrease the repetitions until he is performing 2 sets of 5 by week 7 or 8. On week 5 he will add knee wraps and on week 7 he will add his new pair of groove briefs. These are special elastic shorts which can be worn underneath a squat suit. By week 10 he will be doing doubles and triples in training and will have added his squat suit.

We can all take a very valuable lesson from James and his simple yet brutally effective routine. It isn’t the latest fad or crazy new training technique which builds the biggest and strongest men in the world; it is heavy, basic training which always gets the job done!

To further this point I will now refer back to Paul Anderson who was mentioned at the beginning of this article. Paul was considered to be the strongest man of his era and is still considered to be one of the strongest men of all time. Paul was a drug free (most of his lifting was done in the era prior to steroid use) athlete with absolutely awe-inspiring strength in the squat. Even to this day he is probably the greatest squatter of all-time. Paul is credited with a 1200 lb squat which although not a completely authenticated number provides some insight into his prodigious squat strength. He did his lifts with no knee wraps or other supportive equipment other than the occasional use of a belt. Paul trained in a fashion very similar to James in that his workouts revolved around the squat performed with varying repetitions and loads.

James Searcy is not yet done with his onslaught on the powerlifting world and the squat in particular. He is looking forward to setting the all-time squat record sometime in the next 6 months with a lift of 1150 lbs +

Once he does that he will have solidified his standing in the all-time ranks of great squatters and men of power.

You may never set the all-time squat record, but if you follow a routine similar to James’ you will be assured to set your own personal records and build your size and strength to their limits!

Written by Chris Mason

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Drug Free and Squatting 1003lbs discussion thread.

HIIT Me One More Time

Variations of HIIT

For many people, HIIT training is a lot like sex. It’s short, sweet and really gets the heart pumping. Unfortunately sex isn’t as effective at creating a fat burning effect as a session of HIIT is. If it were, the acronym HIITS (High Intensity Interval Training Sex) would be the latest and greatest method to a leaner body and the catch line would read, “have fun while shedding pounds.”

Try to remember the last time you enjoyed a cardio session. It was probably a while ago and consisted of staring at the cute Cardio Bunny on the stair-climber. Well, times change and gone are the days of losing pounds by walking the treadmill, toning your glutes on the stair- climber and/or planting your cheeks on the so-comfortable seat of a stationary bike. If you respect progress, want to minimize muscle loss and maximize fat loss, all that’s required is a ten to fifteen minute session, one to three times a week. That’s the beauty of HIIT.

Let’s face it, humans are creatures who crave change. What was once fun and enjoyable can soon turn into a task that requires the mindset of a Tibetan monk. And if it’s not enjoyable, chances are the routine won’t be performed with much effort or enthusiasm. If you’re one of those individuals who’ve grown tired of repeating the same old routine, let me HIIT you up with some variety, but, first, let’s backtrack a bit.

A Brief Review

For those of you unfamiliar with HIIT, let me briefly explain why it’s so darnned effective at making you a lean bastard.

It’s all about energy expenditure, that is, weight loss. Move more, eat less and you’ll lose body mass. For those of us who carry more muscle than the average person, replacing the body mass with muscle mass is why we make such a big fuss about cardio and it’s catabolic effect on muscle.

For some time now, aerobic work (long duration activity at a steady state) has been known to effectively burn calories and lower body mass because it focuses on using fat as it’s primary energy source. However, as the intensity of activity increases the primary energy substrate involved will shift. The body will move away from mobilizing fatty acids while the proportion of carbohydrates is increased. (1) While this leads to the thinking that long-duration, low-intensity activity is the optimal route towards fat loss, research shows that high- intensity activity is actually more effective. (2, 3, 4) Add intervals of high and low periods (5) and fat-burning increases. There are several reasons for this, and others that remain unknown.

During high-intensity, intermittent training, post-exercise energy expenditure was significantly greater than in subjects who performed moderate or low intensity activity. (6, 7) As a result more fat is utilized in the recovery phase. Several studies confirm that the higher the exercise intensity, the more fat, proportionately, will be burned during the recovery phase. (9, 10, 11) Also, higher exercise intensity had a greater effect on acetyl-CoA carboxylase (an enzyme involved in the fatty acid synthesis pathway) inactivation, which results in greater free-fatty acid oxidation post-workout. (12) Intense interval work also utilizes both the fast and slow twitch fibres, more fast twitch fibres because of the amount of work required of the body in such a short time period. Along with the muscles, the respiratory, heart and nervous system are also required to expend more amounts of energy. This means that more fat and carbohydrates are burned to keep up with the demands of the body both during and after a HIIT workout.

To sum up, the energy cost of HIIT is much greater than that of aerobic exercise. In addition, the body will expend more energy at rest throughout the day and this contributes further to fat loss. This equates to one lean machine if HIIT is properly incorporated into a program.

The Programs

I’ve listed below a number of different ways HIIT can be incorporated and performed so that the most can be made out of each session. Even if it’s quality you’re after, sometimes quantity is just as important.

Warm-up is crucial. Make sure you perform some motions that move the specific joints used in the movement through their range. For example, grabbing a sport ball or a medicine ball and going through a wide variety of movements such as bending at the hips, knees, shoulders, elbows and wrists continuously for five to eight minutes will serve as an effective warm-up. Once this has been completed you can move on to the type of HIIT you’ll be performing.

Elliptical Trainer: For those of you who suffer from joint problems, an elliptical machine can be a godsend. If your club/gym happens to have a couple of pieces that come with arms this exercise can be all the more effective as it can now involve your upper body. Be forewarned though– watching a heavily muscled lifter furiously pumping their arms and legs every 20-60 seconds for 10-15 minutes can be a pretty amusing display.

Stair-Climber: If you work in a building that has a long flight of stairs, then you know very well just how hard climbing flights of stairs can be. Set the stair-climber at the most difficult level and attempt to keep the pedals from touching the floor. Once you’ve finished the interval, get off and walk around until it’s time to go again. Legs of steel perhaps, try stepping on your tippy toes.

Treadmill Work: Running on the treadmill is not as effective as running outdoors due to the lack of intensity that can be achieved on a treadmill. A treadmill, nevertheless, can still do its job well. One way to really utilize this piece of equipment is to do walking lunges on the steepest grade for 30 seconds at 1.5-2.0 miles an hour. Rest 30 seconds, and repeat 5-10 times. If that’s not enough for you, speed things up or grab some dumbbells.

Running Lines: On a basketball court or a field, mark out 5 lines. Each one should be about 3 feet apart from one another. Run to each line and back to the starting point. Once you have run to each line and back, stop and rest for 1 minute and then repeat this 3-6 times. Change of pace perhaps? Try running the lines backwards.

Uphill Sprints: Sprint up a hill and then walk or jog very slowly downhill as your period of recovery. Repeat the sprints 4-8 times. You can do the hill sprints with the exception of running backwards up the hill and walking forwards down.

Skipping Rope: Skip for a minute, then rest a minute, and repeat 10 times. If you want to show off, throw in some combinations.

Side Laterals: Set up two cones or markers and side step them for 30 seconds as quickly as possible trying to minimize the time your feet are in contact with the ground. Rest 1 minute, and repeat 6-10 times.

Weight Training: A study conducted by Dr Tabata in Japan showed that “six to eight very hard twenty second intervals with ten second rest periods” are very effective for increasing both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. (13) Putting this into practice, an individual would perform a movement that utilizes multiple muscle groups. Movements such as the Squat or Deadlift are a good place to start. Using approximately 50% of your 1RM perform as many repetitions as you can in twenty seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat six to eight more times. Be warned, this method was used on elite Japanese speed skaters and was a very painful experience. This method is not only great at fat burning but will teach you how to stay mentally focused while enduring a large amount of pain.

Bike: It’s probably the most boring piece of equipment to use in the gym, but it can be quite effective. If you’re feeling brave, try Dr Tabata’s method (as mentioned above). The experiment Dr Tabata performed used bikes, which gives you a feeling just how tough this method really is.

Sled Dragging: Westside disciples should be very familiar with this exercise. Simply load up the sled and drag it to your heart’s content. If you’re up for a challenge, drag the sled up a hill.

Dumbbell/Plate Toss: Grab a weight that’s heavy enough for you to throw maybe a foot or so and throw it. Using an under hand stance with the legs in a sumo position thrust the hips as you push the legs into the ground and swing the arms up into the air while releasing the weight. Walk over, and pick up the weight and repeat.

Finishing Up

I’ve just skimmed the surface of the many ways one can integrate HIIT into a training program. So, if boredom is knocking at your door, you can open it wide and refuse entry because now you have some great ideas at your disposal.

Written By Maki Riddington

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – HIIT Me One More Time discussion thread.


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