The Myth of HIIT

Discussion in 'Gator Country Health and Fitness' started by Dreamliner, May 26, 2012.

  1. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    High Intensity Interval Training, intense cardio, whatever you want to call it. Have we been sold a bill of goods ? Basically, HIIT does not confer better aerobic conditioning, does not burn more calories overall than steady-state, is probably inferior to steady-state for health, does not make for a better athlete and is not more time-efficient than steady state. It may be indicated for certain scenarios. But can be ruinous when not practiced judiciously.

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  2. LeafUF
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    LeafUF Well-Known Member

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    I don't do much, if any, cardio these days and if I should choose to it would be the low intensity variety. The research on cardio is so entirely confusing to me as one day you read something saying HIIT is better, then the next that steady-state is better. Then steady-state is bad for you, fasted cardio is good, then its bad. I can't keep up.

    I know this is quite common when it comes to fitness and nutrition and yet it somehow makes even less sense to me when it comes to cardio.
  3. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    My default advice is that if you want to look better nekkid just strength train and walk. But it is interesting the backlash against aerobic exercise ... and subsequent swinging back to aerobic exercise.
  4. StrangeGator
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    StrangeGator Well-Known Member

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    I guess it depends on what benefits people expect to get from HIIT. There's no doubt that it's beneficial for certain types of athletic endeavors, but the weight/fat loss and time efficiency aspect are what most people are looking for. I never for a moment bought into it as any kind of short cut or even as a replacement for steady state. Since I started working out two and a half years ago, I've always done both.

    As far as calorie burning, what I've always understood is that HIIT doesn't burn more calories during a workout. The benefit was that it put your body in an oxygen deficit making it continue to burn at a fairly high rate for several hours after a workout. I don't have a lot invested in that theory, but I sure lost a lot of weight during the six month period that I was doing two hour-long HIIT sessions a week.
  5. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    Yes, HIIT does produce an afterburn effect referred to as EPOC. Here's the rub: you can't do as much HIIT as steady-state. So, it basically comes out in the wash.

    Aside from that, HIIT is intense. It is akin to a strenuous strength workout in that regard. As a result, conceivably it can lead to a reduction in general activity.

    And HIIT may not be the best form of conditioning for martial arts!
  6. ATL_Gator
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    ATL_Gator Well-Known Member

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    I remember reading a comment from Mehdi on stronglifts.com. For "maximized" weight loss, he recommends his weight session (5x5) followed by steady state cardio (ellipitical was his specific choice).

    He specifically addressed HITT, and said that he found with is private clents that steady state was superior becasue most people don't do HITT correctly. They end up slacking off because they are tired and not fully recovered during the rest periods, so they end up not "exerting" themselves as much. He also stated that this "slacking" off was not necessarily noticed in workout 1, when everything is fresh... it is the later workouts when things are repetitive and what not.

    He concluded that in the long run, steady state cardio for 40 minutes at 60% exertion was better than half-assed HITT for 15 or 20 minutes.
  7. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    ATL, I may owe you an apology. I may have fallen to the anti-steady state witchhunt myself. I can see where your jogging would help with pickup basketball. My only concern would be jogging slowing you down overall.
  8. StrangeGator
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    StrangeGator Well-Known Member

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    I only do one day of HIIT a week and three days of strength training. As I understand it, there's a point of diminishing returns after more than one or two days weekly.

    There's really not a trade off here. I get all the strength training I need in three days and given my routine, I can't really lift on consecutive days. I lift Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, go to the dojo on Tuesday and Friday, and do HIIT on either Thursday or Sunday. The only possible trade off with HIIT is with more Aikido, but my dojo only holds classes two nights a week. I'll start visiting other dojos on a weekly basis after my next test, so I may have to drop HIIT, or just do it every other week.

    HIIT has been excellent for Aikido. There are times when the pace is insanely anaerobic. I used to have to leave the mat twice a night. Now I'm in better shape than anyone at my dojo. I mix in a lot of Aikido specific work in my routine, so I've developed some explosive strength in addition to my aerobic capacity. I learned early on to space my HIIT workouts more than 24 hours from my next class.
  9. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you're dialed-in. I was operating on the assumption that you were worn out much of the time.

    Further on HIIT, there seem to be diminishing returns PERIOD, regardless the frequency. In other words, only a few weeks of HIIT are necessary to attain to requisite levels of anaerobic fitness, then you hit a wall.

    Also, while it is true that JJ is anaerobic, aerobic exercise may STILL be the best background strategy. Read Joel Jamieson in this regard. He's highly respected in MMA conditioning circles. He likes to point out that elite boxers still prefer 'roadwork.'
  10. ATL_Gator
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    No apology necessary (not even sure I remember much why).

    I will tell you what, at no point have a felt better playing basketball than when I was running 3 miles at a time 3-4 times a week. I could push my self harder on defense, playing short bursts of high intensity. Recovery was faster. Sustained energy, so on and so forth.

    And jogging for me is S-L-O-W. Especially outside. If only jogging for 30-40 minutes wasn't so bleeding boring! bleh. Hate hate hate.

    I did run a 5k that was bearable, I think only because there was something else to distract my mind....
  11. Dreamliner
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    In light of the recent discussion ...
  12. LeafUF
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  13. rburnett
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    I'm like ATL_Gator

    I guess the thing for me is - I have like exercise ADD.. I like to go balls to the walls for 30 minutes and be done with it. That's why I enjoy HIIT.

    When I was in ATL before moving to Pensacola, i used to play pickup hoops 3x a week and do strength training the other days... no good gyms around here that have that option for me.
  14. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    I know I'm not averse to catering to exercise personality. I had a client who just had to 'scratch the itch', do something like HIIT most days. I just disabused her of the notion that she was burning a gazillion calories - and implored her to allow for recovery - and turned her loose.
  15. StrangeGator
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    I just added a third night of Aikido. I travel to a dojo in Naperville, about 20 miles west of where I live to do two hour long classes, the second of which is all weapons. Since I don't lift or do HIIT on dojo days, this limits my gym time to just four days a week. Starting this week, I'll lift on Saturday morning, Monday and Wednesday nights, do HIIT on Sunday morning and go to the dojo on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. I'm hoping this is an optimal use of my energy. I guess it's possible to lift in the morning and go to the dojo at night, but in my experience, it's made me a bit sluggish, especially on days when I did squats and dead lifts.

    While weekly HIIT probably isn't necessary, it has been very helpful. It's not just about keeping from getting gassed. It's about going hard for a few minutes with minimal recovery time and still having a burst of strength in reserve to execute a difficult throw. It also helps me keep my form together.

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