So, it’s a new year again and like many, I have put on a few pounds over the holidays. And like many, I want to get rid of this extra body fat ASAP! As usual, ensuring that you eat a healthy, low-calorie diet is crucial for weight loss. (For more tips on that, check out last year’s New Year’s article here.) In order to really rev up your metabolism, do High-Intensity Resistance Training(HIRT) two to three times a week. The other days do steady state cardio like walking briskly/jogging on the treadmill or outside, doing the elliptical, biking, swimming, rowing. If you stick to this routine, you should see swift progress.
The great thing about HIRT workouts is that not only do they burn tons of calories while you do the actual workout, but they accelerate your metabolism for up to 48 hours after the workout. This is known as EPOC or “the afterburn.”The reason for this is because HIRT workouts combine heavy weight training and interval cardio training involving the entire body. Heavy weight training and interval cardio training are both known to have the biggest effect on “the afterburn”. In addition to being the most effective workout when it comes to losing and maintaining weight, HIRT is time-efficient. A typical workout is over in max 45 minutes. What’s not to like about that?
Intensity is the most important factor to raise “the afterburn”, which is why you should work out as hard, as heavy, and as fast as you can
without sacrificing form. Remember, burning a few extra calories is not worth a pulled muscle or other injury. When you do this type of workout, it’s imperative that you don’t skip your warmup. Warmups used to mean “five to ten minutes walking on the treadmill” and/or static stretches. There’s nothing wrong with warming up by walking on the treadmill. I personally wouldn’t bother, though. I’d rather jump right into the workout, but—and this is a big but—I do my first exercises slower and make sure I have control over them until I feel ready to go harder. It takes experience to do that, so only use this approach if you’re very confident about working out and are coordinated. I recommend leaving static stretching till AFTER the workout. This NY Times article will tell you why.
Because “the afterburn” is also influenced by duration, I recommend you consider doing 60 minute-workouts instead of the typical 30-45 minute HIRT workouts. Of course, if you’re new to exercising or out of shape, go for the shortest version and work up to a longer one. The good news for less fit individuals is that the LESS fit you are, the more you’ll benefit from high intensity workouts. This article explains more. Because you’re lifting weights and stressing your heart, which is also a muscle, you must rest at least 48 hours in between HIRT workouts, especially if you do the longer version. If not, you might do more damage than good to your body. Make sure your doctor says it’s okay for you to do this type of intense workout.
Here is another article that explains why HIRT workouts are great to get lean and mean fast. Read it!
Maintain these guidelines when creating a HIRT workout (see a sample workout below):
- Each workout must be a full body routine.
- Use sets of 5 to 15 reps. Lower reps to focus on muscle gain, higher reps to focus on muscular endurance.
- Each workout will use supersets.
- Every exercise uses more than one joint focusing on the largest muscle groups.
- Every superset should last 8-10 minutes.
- 60-90 seconds rest between supersets.
- No rest within a superset.
- All exercises should be executed as fast as possible while maintaining good form.
Here is a basic HIRT workout you can do at the gym:
5-15 squats (add weights if they are easy)
5-15 overhead presses (use a heavy weight)
5-15 Roman chair crunches
5-15 Hip bridges on a ball (use a barbell over hips if easy)
5-15 Seated rows
5-15 woodchops or crabwalks with a resistance band
Side lunges (5-15 each leg, add weight if easy)
5-15 one-arm chest presses
5-15 lat pull downs
5-15 jump lunges (20-30 total)
5-15 lateral raises (use heavy weight)
box step ups (5-15 each leg, add weight if easy)
plank (45 seconds)
5-15 jack knife abs
That’s it! Be careful when you do this the first time, go slower and lighter until you feel in complete control. Good luck!