Another H.I.I.T Success Story

As many of you probably know, at Hybrid Fitness, we’re BIG proponents of High Intensity Interval Training (or H.I.I.T). Taku and I have integrated HIIT successfully into the programs of countless individuals of varying backgrounds and athletic abilities. I’ve personally used HIIT to train for a marathon. Honestly, every training session was focussed around short, maximal-effort intervals which had enormous carry-over into my general conditioning and a profoundly positive impact on my VO2 Max. More on that later.

Most recently, I’ve been working with a client who wants to get lean and back into her college shape. She has 2 kids (both very young) and a demanding, high-stress job in the tech industry. Needless to say, she has many factors in her life and schedule that preclude her from really taking the time she needs to get to the gym on a regular basis. She wants to get in better shape and wants to run, but the problem is, she HATES RUNNING. She has a mental block that prevents her from really turning on the effort and I’ve explained many times that a slow jog for a few blocks will never make any sizeable impact on her conditioning or aesthetic goals.

Not a problem.

I introduced her to HIIT about two weeks ago and I made her a promise. If she sticks with the HIIT training, she’ll see a difference in her body composition in a few week and an increase in her conditioning almost immediately. We literally have 3 HIIT sessions completed at this point and she called me yesterday to say she went running over the weekend (on her own) and noticed a profound increase in her running ability. Mentally and physically, she’s noticed a difference and that’s with only 3 HIIT sessions under her belt. To clarify, this is not someone who’s just started working out, either. She has a lifelong athletic history, though she’s never chosen to push herself or had someone push her.

I could write all day about the benefits of HIIT, but suffice it to say, it’s working wonders for my client and it can work wonders for most anyone. This includes competitive athletes. Honestly, entirely too much emphasis is put on LSD or Long Slow Duration training. Athletes of most any sport and certainly the average person looking to get in shape or better shape will benefit from incorporating some type of HIIT training into your program.

Look through some of our past postings for additional HIIT articles and audio clips.

Post your thoughts, HIIT success stories or questions to the comments section and we’ll address them directly.

Keep training hard!

Jason K.
www.hybridfitness.tv

Performance Evaluation

It may sound a little corny or cliche but to get where you want to go, you need to have a plan in mind. To be truly successful, part of that plan must include regular testing sessions so that the athlete and coach may readily determine the efficacy of the current plan, as well as what if any changes need to be made to allow for continued success.

When an athlete approaches Hybrid Fitness for help, the first thing we do is gather information about them. This will include current training protocols, nutrition, rest and recovery, and current overall health status regarding injuries etc. Next we will put them through a battery of tests. The tests will be chosen to provide information that is relevant to their chosen sport as well as to expose any weakness or imbalance that may be present. Finally we will take photos and measurements to allow us to assess body composition and track other aspects of their training plan.

When choosing tests, be sure that they are relevant. If you are an athlete that competes in running based events or open field sports such as soccer or lacrosse, it makes no sense to use an indoor bicycle ergometer test as your primary means of assessment. Unless the test is designed to evaluate technical ability and or skill, it should require as little skill as possible. For strength testing I prefer the use of machines for this purpose. Finally the tests should be easy to track and replicate. If they are not you will have trouble gathering any information of value. Keep in mind that the very first time you do a test you are establishing your starting values. After this the test should be repeated at regular intervals to allow you to easily track your progress.

So remember to get the most out of your strength and conditioning program make a plan, follow it, and always test and re-test for maximum results.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Below are a few tests we might use when working with an open field sport team or individual player.

STRENGTH

RM Test

The objective of these tests is to determine the athletes 5 and 10 Repetition Maximums in all major muscle groups.

To undertake these tests you will require access to the following five machines:

1) Leg Press
2) Shoulder Press
3) Lat Pulldown use a supinated (palms facing you) grip
4) Chest press
5) Seated Rowing

How to conduct the test

10 RM:

1) Start each exercise with a weight that you can comfortably handle for 10 repetitions. Usually no more then 30% body-weight for most exercises.
2) Perform 10 slow, controlled reps taking 3-5 seconds to raise the weight and 3-5 seconds to lower the weight.
3) Rest two minutes and repeat the above protocol using 10-20% more weight.
4) Continue until 10 reps can no longer be achieved.
5) The 5 RM test is conducted in a similar fashion using slightly higher weight increases.

Aerobic Endurance

2.4 Km Run Test

The objective of this test is to determine the minimum time to complete six laps of a 400 meter track (2400 meters). This allows the coach to monitor the development of the athlete’s aerobic endurance.

To undertake this test you will require:

1) 400 meter track
2) Stop watch
3) An assistant

How to conduct the test

1) Athlete to complete a 10 minute warm up
2) Athlete to complete the 2.4km (6 laps of a 400m track)
3) Assistant to keep athlete informed of the number of laps remaining to complete the test
4) Assistant to record the time taken for the athlete to run 2.4km

For the complete article on performance evaluation including a wide variety of tests and how to properly implement them visit www.hybridfitness.tv

High Intensity Training: Is it right for everyone?

As a follow-up to our articles on High Intensity Training (or H.I.T.) here is an audio interview with Liam “Taku” Bauer, talking about why H.I.T works and who it’s designed for.

Do yourself a favor – click the audio link below and take the next 3 minutes to listen to what Taku has to say. It could change the way you train for good.

Audio Link —–> Who is H.I.T designed for (audio)

As always, we’re interested in your feedback so feel free to post your comments or questions. We address them right away.

Keep training hard!

Jason K.
www.hybridfitness.tv

O.S.W. vs H.I.T.

It is not unusual to find the strength training community divided when it comes to what style of training is best or how and when to employ the many training techniques and variables that are available. One of the most classic battles one finds is the one between the proponents of High Intensity Training or H.I.T. and those coaches and athletes who seem to prefer Olympic Style Weight Lifting or O.S.W. I personally have never really understood the almost religious fanaticism with which some may argue for or against their preferred approach to getting stronger.

For years I have been a fan of brief, intense and infrequent training. Having tried just about every one of the recognized (as well as the obscure) training programs that have come along in the last twenty years, I can honestly say that this is still true today. My goal has always been to find the precise amount of volume, frequency and intensity that will allow me to reach my goals with maximum efficiency and minimum down time. With years of trial and error, creative experimentation and hard work under my belt I have discovered a few combinations that seem to produce consistent results.

Now counter to the notion of this brief, intense, infrequent style of training, often referred to as H.I.T., I am also a fan of Olympic style weightlifting. For many this might seem odd. For some it may seem that the two styles are not compatible with one another. I assure you it is not odd, and they are very compatible. Olympic style weightlifting is very technical. The movements are often difficult to master and some of the positions may cause a great deal of discomfort in the early stages of learning. I guess that is one of the reasons I enjoy Olympic style weightlifting, the focus and attention to detail that is required to attain a sense of mastery is a lifetime journey. Almost anyone can learn to work hard on a basic movement such as a Lat Pull-down or a seated Row but to truly master the Snatch or Clean and Jerk requires far more patience and dedication. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all about hard work on the basics when it comes to efficient strength training. I am not one of those coaches who feels that Olympic style weightlifting is required for athletic success (unless of course you are an Olympic Weightlifter). But I do enjoy it and that is why I often include some Olympic style weightlifting movements in my personal training plan.

One way to combine the more classic H.I.T. style of training with Olympic style weightlifting is as follows. Start with a basic O-lifting routine*. Practice this routine in a strict order of exercises as well as sets, reps and rest periods. For your H.I.T. training days create short routines which are made up of basic pushing, pulling and squatting movements along with some assistance exercises. Perform these in a classic High tension Low force manner with an emphasis on slow, controlled movement. Workout roughly every other day alternating one of these basic H.I.T. routines with the O-lifting routine. In this way you will perform both the O-lifting and H.I.T. routines three times every two weeks. Use the O-lifting days as more technique polishing and active recovery days. Still train hard and heavy however do not train to failure and strive to always leave a few reps in the tank. On the H.I.T. days perform single sets to failure of a handful of movements and strive to take each set to the limit. This can be an excellent way to combine these two styles of lifting, reaping the maximum benefit that each has to offer while maintaining a balance between stimulus and recovery.

If you have always been a practitioner of either one or the other of these two styles of lifting perhaps now is the time to try something new. If you have never tried O.S.W. then I recommend that you find a qualified coach for your initial instruction as this style of lifting is quite technical. If you have rarely if ever trained to momentary muscular failure then ease into it as the muscular soreness that is sometimes associated with this style of training can be quite intense. What ever style of lifting you use, be sure to have a spotter where applicable. Get strong in the gym, never get injured.

Give this H.I.T. / O.S.W. combination a try and I think you may find it to be a fun and effective way to reap the rewards that each of these styles of training has to offer.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Example O.S.W. / H.I.T. Hybrid:

For the O-lifts I tend to stick with each routine for 12 workouts which following the above described pattern sees me changing things up about every eight weeks or so. On the H.I.T. days I get a little more creative varying the order of the exercises, reps, and rest intervals as well as employing advanced overload techniques when my energy and recovery allow. Keep in mind that these routines are just a few examples of thousands that you could employ.

O.S.W. Workout 1: (*Courtesy of Jim Schmitz)

1. Hang Power Snatch 5 x 5
2. Hang Power Clean 5 x 5
3. Clean Deadlift & Shrug 5 x 5
4. Push Press 5 x 5
5. Front Squat 5 x 5
6. Over Head Squat 3 x 5
7. Bench Press 3 x 10-8-6

H.I.T. Workouts

Workout 1. (A.J. Classic)

1. Squat 1 x 20
2. Single Leg Calf Raise 1 x 20 (each leg)
3. Standing Shoulder Press 1 x 10
4. Chin-up (weighted) 1 x 10
5. Dip (weighted) 1 x 10
6. Barbell Curl 1 x 10
7. Straight-legged Deadlift 1 x 15

Workout 2.

1. Dumbbell Squat 1 x 8-12
2. Dumbbell Fly 1 x 8-12
3. Dumbbell Lunge (stepping back) 1 x 8-12
4. Seated Cable row 1 x 8-12
5. Dumbbell Alternating Upright row 1 x 8-12
6. Triceps Over head extension 1 x 8-12
7. Dumbbell Incline curl 1 x 8-12

Workout 3.

1. Back Squat 1 x 8-12
2. Barbell Bench Press 1 x 8-12
3. Barbell Lunge (stepping forward) 1 x 8-12
4. Wide Lat Pull-down (in front) 1 x 8-12
5. Dumbbell Seated Press 1 x 8-12
6. Cable Curl 1 x 8-12
7. Cable Triceps Push-down 1 x 8-12

Low-Tech Tools = High-Performance Results

We’ve posted a number of blog articles about the variety of training tools available. Additionally, we’ve posted dozens of “low-tech” training programs at hybridfitness.tv, which involve everything from sandbags to sportbands to kettlebells to bodyweight. Why do I refer to them as “low-tech”? Because they don’t have a bunch of cables or attachments, they don’t cost thousands of dollars, they’re not difficult to learn and they take up very little space. On the contrary, they’re easy to use, easy to transport, inexpensive to purchase and you need very little space to train.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’ve been going to the gym since I was 16. I love to run intervals on a treadmill or push my limits on a Concept 2 rower as much as anyone and I love to load up the lat pulldown or cable cross machines and see how much weight I can move. If I’ve got an extra $8000 laying around and a few hundred square feet of extra space at my house, I could get myself a couple of these machines. But for 99% of the population, the prospect of outfitting a home gym is out of the question.

Where does that leave you? Easy. Look to the low-tech solution.

With a few different bands of varying resistance, you can replicate most machine movements. Throw in a kettlebell or two and you’ve just expanded your options. Top it off with a couple sandbags and you literally have everything you need to get in shape, increase your muscular strength and endurance and skyrocket your conditioning.

We don’t sell these products directly, but everyone at Hybrid Fitness has purchased them for our training clients as well as personal use! With that said, we recommend you try them for yourself. You’ll be amazed how challenging an overhead squat is with tiny resistance band, or how a simple set of kettlebell Up & Overs will test your mental and physical limits. Visit our Training and Exercise of the Week sections for lots more exercise ideas.

Are you ready to give low-tech training a shot? We recommend you look to Iron Woody Fitness. Their customer service is second-to-none and they have everything you need at the best prices on the net. Plus, they’re just great people.

Iron Woody Fitness

Remember: You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get in the best shape of your life. All you need is a little guidance, some motivation and some imagination.

Good luck and keep training hard!

Jason K.
www.hybridfitness.tv

Training the Neck (with video)

The question of training the neck came up on one of the forums recently so I decided to put up a little something here to address it. First let me say that I am a fan of neck training. I recommend it to all of my athletes. As a matter of fact I encourage all of my clients to do some form of neck training, unless of course they have some sort of pre-existing condition that would preclude them from doing so.

I highly recommend neck training to all combat athletes. Along with the obvious combat sports such as Boxing, Wrestling, and MMA, I also include other high contact sports such as Rugby, American or Australian rules football, Lacrosse, and Ice Hockey on my combat sports list.

If you are already doing some form of neck training and are happy with the results, keep up the good work. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to strengthen your neck, give the following routine a try.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Neck Routine: Begin with one set of Shrugs with enough weight to fatigue within 60 seconds. Do one set of 60 seconds pushing head into a small stability ball in all four directions. Finish with a final 60 second set of shrugs. Alternate methods not shown include but are not limited to, using a neck harness attached to cables or resistance bands, as well as manual resistance either solo or using a partner.

(An alternate method for neck extension is also shown in the video below). Using this method you would bridge, forcing the neck back into the stability ball with muscular force aided by gravity.

1. Shrugs: Barbell / Dumbbell / Cable

2. Neck Flexion

3. Neck Extension

4. Lateral Neck Flexion (right and left)

5. Shrugs: Barbell / Dumbbell / Cable

Training OUT of the Zone

You hear talk all the time about “training in the zone”, “being in the zone”, etc. I want to convince you to train OUT of the zone. By “zone”, I mean your comfort zone.

People naturally gravitate towards what’s easiest. We avoid tougher, more challenging training and stick with what we know. It’s the reason people fall into ruts, athletes stop progressing and individuals stop seeing changes, despite putting in long hours in the gym.

I went to the climbing gym today, as I do every week. My climbing partner and I got in a discussion with some other climbers about a particular route and why it would be so challenging. It had a lot of overhangs, but technically, it was rated far below what this climber is capable of doing. In theory, it should be an easy climb for him.

The climber said “I don’t do overhangs”. Right away, we asked him why? He said he wasn’t comfortable with them and would rather spend his time getting better on the vertical routes. We started discussing comfort zones and how important it is to work on the weak areas of your sport. The climber fully understood the importance of this, but still avoided the tougher overhangs whenever possible. This same mentality exists in any sport. I’m certainly not saying it happens with everyone, but the key is to recognize that there are weak spots with your training, then work to overcome them.

For many people in many different sports, conditioning is a huge factor. I’ve said it before, but it can make or break an individuals performance. Interval training can be extremely beneficial when it comes to increasing your aerobic and anaerobic endurance, but performing intervals can push the body’s heart rate to extremely high levels and bring on a level of fatigue that many have never experienced before. As a result, they avoid it outright.

The same is true when it comes to strength and skill training. This also goes for recreational athletes and people just looking to get in shape. If you stick solely with what you know, the body will never be able to push beyond it’s current level. Try new skills, lift heavier weights (safely and within reason) and switch up your “cardio” training. You’ll be surprised just how fast the body adapts to overcome it’s new stress.

Got some specific training issues that you feel are hindering your performance or results? Post them here and we’ll address them specifically.

Keep training hard!

Jason K.
www.hybridfitness.tv

H.I.I.T – The Best Way to Train for Competition

At Hybrid Fitness, we’re big proponents of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). There is constant misconception and misinformation when it comes to training and reaching one’s “cardio” goals, especially when it comes to combat sports. We’ve always supported intervals as the most efficient and effective way of skyrocketing your endurance and developing what we like to call the “30 gallon gas tank”.

On that note, I just wanted to share this great bit of feedback I received from one of my clients:

——————

Liam,

I like to keep you up to date since you helped me so much get back into competition shape after I had ACL surgery.

Last weekend I competed in the Pan Ams with my son. He got gold in the teens division then competed in the teens absolute and got silver.

I got gold in the senior brown belt division and then got gold in the senior brown belt absolute division fighting guys 20 to 60 lbs bigger than me. I think I was the only light weight to win an absolute division.

I still use your H.I.I.T program (Taku’s Intervals) and still recommend it to people all the time.

Thanks Again,

L.K.

————

So there you have it. If you’re still struggling with your conditioning or want to take it up a few notches, give Taku’s intervals a try. One’s conditioning will make or break their performance and this is especially true for fighters. The entire program is free at the link above. Check it out and stop fooling yourself with conditioning protocols that aren’t doing the job.

Pau for Now.

TAKU
www.hybridfitness.tv
https://hybridfitness.wordpress.com (blog)

Band Resisted Back Extensions (with video)

At Hybrid Fitness we do our best to keep things as simple as possible. When we want to work someones Mid-Section (often referred to as the “Core”) we know there are only three things we need to do, some form of spinal flexion, some form of spinal extension and some form of rotational movement(s). None of these movements needs to be done for multiple, long, drawn out sets. Nor do they require hundreds of repetitions per movement.

A great exercise device for training the muscles involved in hip and spinal extension is the Glute-Ham-Gastroc raise platform. Unfortunately most commercial gyms do not have the traditional, “Old-School” version of this device (the one where your body lays out parallel with the floor). Instead What you seem to find are these 45 degree angled versions. I think some expert decided that the angled version was safer then the original and suddenly the originals were almost no where to be found.

The problem with these “safer” versions is that as you move through the range of motion, gravity is no longer fully opposing your movements and the resistance seems to fall off at the worst possible time. In the video below you will see how I like to overcome this problem with the use of a simple resistance band. Give these a try next time you visit the gym. I am sure you will quickly become hooked on Band Resisted Back Extensions.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Exercise of the Week: Towel Pull Ups

Here’s a great variation on a classic exercise. Pull ups are still one the best ways to develop overall back strength and definition. There’s lots of pull up variations, each working the body a little differently. Towel pull ups are fairly unique, though.

Here’s what they look like: (click for a larger view)

towel-pullup-start.jpgtowel-pullup-finish.jpg

By gripping the towel during the exercise, you also develop outstanding forearm and grip strength, which can be a great asset for many sports, including wrestling and rock climbing, along with combat sports such as judo, jiu jitsu and others. Pull ups are also a great bicep conditioning tool. Just think, arms and back of STEEL!

To get started, try a simple pull up pyramid. Start with 1 pull up, then take a 15 second break. Grab the towel and try 2. Take another break. Continue adding a rep each time until you can’t go up in reps anymore. Take a 60 second break and work your way back down.

Trust me when I say your back, arms and shoulders will be on FIRE!

If you’re not able to do a standard pull up with the towel, you can still develop back, forearm and grip strength by working negatives. To do a negative, stand on a bench or stool and grab the towels. Slowly step off the bench while holding tightly on the towel. Lower yourself down as slowly as possible, so that your arms are fully extended…bend your knees if you have to. Quickly step back onto the bench and repeat for another repetition. Negatives can help you quickly develop the strength it takes to do regular pull ups.

As with any type of training or conditioning, you must have consistency to see results. If you stay diligent with this and other exercises, you will get stronger.

Give the towel pull ups a shot and let us know how you do.

Keep training hard!

Jason K.

Hybrid Fitness
www.hybridfitness.tv