Is high intensity training right for you?

High intensity training first came about in the 1970’s. The man behind it – Arthur Jones believed that to achieve optimum strength and muscle, workouts should be very brief and intense, stressing intensity over repetitions. For upper body 6-10 repetitions and lower body either 8-12 repetitions or 12-20 repetitions, with just one main set taken to muscular failure followed by forced repetitions and then negative repetitions.
In more recent times Dorian Yates a six time Mr Olympia winner once again popularised this form of high intensity training. His workouts were extremely intense and always under an hour in duration. He performed very low repetitions, often as low as four, to muscular failure followed by a couple of forced repetitions (assisted by a training partner). This was followed by 1 or 2 negative repetitions. (training partner completes 100% of the repetition apart from the eccentric aspect). As effective as this training is, be aware it does put a tremendous strain on the central nervous system, not to mention your ligaments and tendons. There is absolutely no room for sloppy form with this type of training, as it will result in injury. As far as training results go, it’s hard to argue with someone who has six consecutive Mr Olympia titles. I will point out though, Dorian Yates’s career ended prematurely at the age of 37 as a result of serious injuries while training. A lot of strength athletes/bodybuilders are just reaching their prime at this age. There are many different high intensity training systems for strength training as well as cardiovascular training.
In 1996 a Japanese scientist by the name of Izumi Tabata who was working with the Japanese Olympic speed skating team conducted extensive research on high intensity interval training. One of his most famous findings showed that 20 seconds of all out cycling followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 4 minutes(8 cycles) performed four times per week showed the same benefits for VO2 max as 60 minutes of long slow cardio also performed four times per week. VO2 max is the best indicator of your cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. This type of training is now known simply as Tabata training and it can not only be used for cardiovascular training but also resistance training. The key to high intensity training is truely giving it your best 100% maximum effort, anything less and you may as well stick to normal training protocol. If you don’t handle pain well, then high intensity training is probably not for you. Having being in the business of personal training for almost 15 years, I have come to realise that one persons pain threshold is not the same as another’s, however I have also recognised that with a patient approach, confidence grows and intensity soon follows.
Whether it be high intensity strength training or high intensity cardiovascular training, it should be cycled in and out of your training routine at different periods throughout the year if longevity is your goal. Because of the pure intensity required you will more than likely burn yourself out otherwise.
To give you an idea of the kind of results you can expect, a client of mine has kindly volunteered to trial a high intensity strength training programme for one month performed 3 times per week. I believe one month of extreme high intensity training to be about right before falling back to a normal training regime. I will base it loosely around Tabata training with extremely short rest periods between sets for an total training time of approximately 45-60 minutes. I will perform a body composition test before and after the programme to give you real world results as well as outlining the programme itself to you.
Half way through week two and I have been informed that it has been the most intense week and a half in the 10 plus years of personal training we have performed together. Two and a half weeks to go Happy Days!

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