As you begin using HIIT to build basic levels of fitness and progress to improve your metabolism and performance, you can then branch out to try more varied and challenging protocols. What’s more, is that many of these types of training can help to provide very specific benefits and help you to reach particular goals. If you know precisely what it is that you’re trying to achieve with your training, then you might find that one of these types of training is actually the most advantageous for you.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at adding an additional layer of resistance into our training. In the next chapter, we’ll learn how to mix up the timing in order to alter the challenge.
Concurrent Training (Resistance Cardio)
One of the best ways to mix up your training is to change the type of exercise that you’re using in your HIIT routines. This is something we’ll discuss a lot more in the next chapters but the first thing to consider is combining cardio and resistance training together in the form of ‘resistance cardio’ – also called ‘concurrent training’.
Concurrent training is essentially a type of cardio where your movements are challenged by some form of resistance. In short, it’s like weightlifting combined with cardio. An obvious example is to increase the resistance setting on a stationary bike or to run on sand.
But actually, there are much better examples. One is to perform pull ups quickly or to perform press ups quickly. You can also try punching a heavy bag (which requires muscle power in the shoulders in particular), or you can try running while pushing or pulling something heavy behind or in front of you.
This has a huge number of advantages, the principle one being that it is even more protective against muscle deterioration. That is to say that you can perform this kind of cardio and burn a lot of calories without worrying that you’ll lose much muscle.
This is because you’re engaging even more of your fast twitch muscle fibers and you’re driving blood and metabolites to your muscles where they will stimulate growth. At the same time, that increase in growth hormone and testosterone (triggered by the breakdown of muscle) will mean an improved level of fat burning and muscle building.
Anabolic hormones such as these don’t only encourage the body to build muscle but also to burn fat – which is why steroid users look so incredibly lean as well as being incredibly strong. Of course steroids also have a ton of very serious side effects, so this is a way that we can get the same kind of anabolic results without the dangers associated with them.
Building muscle at the same time as burning fat will help you to create a much superior physique too and this is something that a lot of people don’t realize. If you’re unhappy with your current physique right now and you want to look more attractive in and out of your clothes, then simply losing weight will make you either look very skinny or potentially even flabby if you have lots of loose skin left over.
Want to get rid of cellulite? Losing weight won’t do it. The only way to get rid of it is to tone up your legs, buttocks or whatever the offending area may be. Want to get a flat stomach? Far from burning fat, the best way to do this is actually to strengthen the ‘transverse abdominis’ – the muscle that wraps around your mid-section and that is responsible for keeping your organs and your gut ‘pulled in’.
The best example of all? The kettlebell swing…
Introducing the Kettlebell Swing
When you look up HIIT protocols, you’ll find that it’s very common to see them recommended for kettlebell swings. That’s because the kettlebell swing is in many ways the ideal choice for HIIT and especially if you’re interested in building muscle as well as burning fat. And if you ever visit a CrossFit gym, you’ll always find that both the kettlebell swing and HIIT are among the favorite tools that they use during their workouts.
To perform a kettlebell swing, you of course need a kettlebell. This is an iron ball that has a handle on the top. You can then lift the ball using the handle and treat it like a dumbbell. Unlike a dumbbell though, a kettlebell has the weight located at the bottom and this moves the center of gravity. Now, as you lift the handle, the position of the weight will change, altering the angle of the resistance.
You’ll also be able to swing the kettlebell in a variety of ways, which causes that weight to move away and toward you respectively. This now adds an additional challenge, which is coping with the momentum of the kettlebell and avoiding letting it pull or push you off balance. As a result, the kettlebell uses a lot of smaller supporting muscles that are overlooked in other types of training and this helps you to develop ‘functional strength’.
The swinging motion also means that you can use various different forms of continuous motion, which is ideal for all kinds of CV challenges. This is exactly our objective when using the kettlebell swing, where we will be swinging the weight between our legs up and down in a pendulum motion. Simply grab the kettlebell in both hands and choose a weight that is going to become challenging after 20 seconds.
You should be standing straight with your legs shoulder-width apart and the kettlebell hanging in front of you, held in both hands with arms straight. Squat down slightly and as you do, allow the kettlebell to swing in between your legs. Now, push through your legs to stand back up and as you do, thrust your hips forward to push the weight out in front of you.
Keep your arms straight and don’t attempt to ‘lift’ the weight but instead let it swing up naturally in front of you. For a traditional kettlebell swing, it should reach about the height of your shoulders (the ‘American Swing’ reaches above your head). For a second, the kettlebell will hang in the air and then it will start to descend again as gravity starts to do its thing. Follow the trajectory downward and as you do, drop back into the squat position and let the weight swing back through your legs again. That’s one repetition.
Unlike other weighted exercises like curls or bench presses, the kettlebell swing is perfect for cardio exercises because you can keep going and allow gravity to do its thing as you start tiring. Because you’re involving your muscles though, you’ll find it burns more calories (simply because it is harder than running normally) and you’ll protect your muscles from deterioration.
The specific muscles used in the kettlebell swing are all those that make up the ‘posterior chain’. These are the muscles in the back and the legs that you use for jumping and for sprinting and thus this is an excellent way to improve your overall athletic performance. What’s more, is that these are many of the muscles that we consider most attractive.
For women looking to improve their legs, bums and tums, the kettlebell swing is one of the very best choices. In fact, there is something of an internet meme going around at the moment called ‘women who squat’. It’s become common knowledge that squatting gives women a great behind. The kettlebell swing works all the same muscles but also burns fatting, making it the perfect sculpting tool.
Men who use the exercise meanwhile will benefit from the core involvement and the weight loss that makes it ideal for creating toned abs. The best bit? The kettlebell is simple, cheap and easy to use. Instead of heading outside in the rain to perform your HIIT workouts, you can use this right at home over the course of 20 minutes.
Tabata We have already mentioned Tabata, which is one of the best known examples of… READ MORE
So you just discovered HIIT? No doubt you’re loving just how easy it is to… READ MORE