Recently I have been experimenting with adding HIIT into my strength training days. On a general strength training day I have been known to spend up to two hours at the gym. Don’t worry, I give myself plenty of rest in between sessions and I also make sure to sleep eight or more hours a night so my muscles have plenty of rest. Now I notice that I can accomplish the same amount of training in less time and burn more calories while doing it.
Every other day I do a strength training session. I follow the P90X training schedule for these days and right now I am on the second week of phase 2 so I do Chest, Shoulders & Triceps on day one, Back and Biceps on day three and Legs and Back on Day five. Before each session I do a 15 to 20 minute HIIT routine.
If you don’t know what HIIT is, it stands for (H)igh-(I)ntensity (I)nterval (T)raining. Basically you do really intense short bursts of work and then you recover for the same amount of time. For example sprints, followed by a jog, followed by sprints.
My usual routine is 35 seconds of plyo-cardio followed by 40 seconds of walking recovery, then rinse and repeat for 9 rounds with a quick warm up and cool down. Each “sprint” session sees a higher and higher heart rate. My resting heart rate is around 40 BPM and my aerobic range is 116-132. I usually hit my aerobic heart rate in the warm up phase and then head into my threshold zone of 132-149 in the first round I return to my aerobic zone in the recovery phase then I get into my red line zone somewhere around 154 then back down to my threshold then back up to my red line. Basically my max heart rate will be somewhere between 169 and 174. Once I have finished my HIIT I head to the gym. If I have done my work right; my heart rate will remain elevated for hours and hours afterward, which means that I burn more calories while doing my strength training.
The added energy I have gained from doing these HIIT sessions has also helped me cut down on my rest between sets. My lifting sessions are more intense and I don’t get as tired as I used to when I only did moderate cardio.
I have also noticed that my regular cardio sessions are easier to get through, while maintaining my aerobic heart rate and I also see and increase in my speed and stamina while running. I’ve knocked two minutes off of my 5K and I am sure that I will be able to get better and better times as I continue with this routine.
Before I added HIIT I would burn between 550-670 calories on an average training session. Today I burned 1101. My session including HIIT, Strength, Abs and Recovery was 1:59, my average heart rate was 130, my peak heart rate was 170, and my heart rate never dipped below 76. Plus I am certain to have an elevated heart rate for most of the day.
Should you add HIIT to your routine? I suggest you ask your doctor and read up on the many different ways of incorporating it into your schedule. Never do HIITs on back to back days and never more than 3-4 times a week.
I have been doing this for six weeks now and I am definitely seeing improvements in my aerobic and anaerobic systems as well as my strength training. I have seven weeks to go until I complete my second graduation from P90X and barring any set backs I will stick with what I have been doing. Here’s to seeing just how fit I can get before bikini season.
Have some thoughts you’d like to share? Please let me know.
Thanks for reading!