To significantly lower your risk of death from heart disease start lifting weights


A meta-study of 338,254 participants concluded strength training once or twice a week can lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 28%.  Further they found that if you add aerobic activities to that regime you can lower your risk by 48%.  

Interestingly, strength training more than five times per week was not associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The goal should not be to find how much strength training you can tolerate, but to find the amount that produces optimal results.  Lifting just enough, eating well, and going for a daily walk is a doable prescription for good cardiovascular health and a longer lifespan.

It is important to note that muscles stimulate the cardiovascular system to make positive changes, not the other way around. When the muscles are too weak to push the cardiovascular system, cardio-respiratory fitness declines. High intensity training (HIT) for strength done properly can produce a very significant cardiovascular stimulus, and positively affect cardiovascular wellness.

The cardiovascular benefits of HIT:

§  Increased nitric oxide availability, your body’s naturally produced vasodilator

§  Added muscle, the engine for cardiovascular health

§  Increased capillarization

§  Increased protection of the joints for doing other cardio-activities like running

§  Increased forced expiratory volume

§  Better results for coronary artery disease patients

§  Lower rates of cardiovascular complications compared to aerobic exercise for those with heart conditions

§  Lower blood pressure

As a result of doing HIT your aches and pains will subside, and you will be able to do those aerobic activities you enjoy longer – walk, run, swim, ride your bike. At Austin Personal Training we offer a 30 minute full-body strength training workout that is done once or twice a week. This is a workout that you slowly build up to; anybody can do it. You’ll enhance your cardio-respiratory fitness and quality of life for decades to come.

Getting a runner’s high without running


Each week I look forward to a runner’s high at an intensity level I rarely achieved by running. I don’t run anymore. After a couple of foot surgeries my running days are over. It takes me about 22 to 25 minutes to get to this relaxed euphoric state, and it stays with me the rest of the day. 

While this state is subjective there is an objective proxy to gauge the intensity of this high. One of the attributes of a runner’s high is lower blood pressure. With the runner’s high my blood pressure remains 10 to 25 points lower for up to 24 hours before returning to my normal reading.

Runners have long known that if you run long enough and hard enough you will experience a runner’s high. It wasn’t until 1975(1) that scientists pinpointed what prompted the runner’s high. It is a group of hormones called endorphins.  Endorphins activate specialized receptors throughout the nervous system that block pain messages, they reduce the release of chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling, and they lower pressure.

To get your body to release these endorphins by running, the run has to demanding enough to produce an anaerobic response that results in the build-up of lactic acid. According to one study(2):

Intensive running with an anaerobic response causes an increase in the concentrations of β-endorphin…whereas slight aerobic exercise did not elicit any response.” 

Less demanding steady-state endurance running will release endorphins too, but it takes more running.  According to this study(3):

“In endurance exercise performed at a steady-state between lactate production and elimination, blood beta-endorphin levels do not increase until exercise duration exceeds approximately 1 hour.”

If running is not an option you can still release those endorphins.  Another study(4) found that:

“The results of this study indicate that acidosis [The buildup of lactic acid] rather than any other physiological change associated with high-intensity exertion is the primary stimulus for beta-endorphin release.”[Runner’s high]

The key here is that high-intensity exertion results in the buildup of lactic acid. Strength training can do that, particularly if there is less rest between exercises.  One study(5) found that strength training with one minute rest between exercises produced a greater endorphin response than a workout with three minutes rest between exercises. Less rest results in a larger lactic acid buildup.


The high intensity training (HIT) we do at our Austin Personal Training facility is a series of strength training exercises working all the major muscle groups with little rest between exercises.  In the photo above most of this 25 minute HIT workout is in the hardcore zone where there will be a buildup of lactic acid and a subsequent endorphin release.

Your trainer will have you build up to HIT slowly and see that you are constantly breathing and maintaining form. People of any age can do this. Over time you’ll be at a higher exertion level, produce more lactic acid, and have a significant endorphin response. Endorphin levels can remain elevated for hours and even into the next day. Your aches and pains will subside, you’ll be less stressed, your mood will improve, and you’ll sleep better. It is your body’s natural high. 

  1. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dh75en.html

  2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0024320588901580

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1553453

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7836218

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8444727

Reversing the Loss of Heart Function Caused by Type 2 Diabetes


A recent study found that “three months of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improved heart function in adults with type 2 diabetes, without any change in medications or diet”.  This is an important finding considering that the leading cause of death of type 2 diabetes patients is cardiovascular disease.

The researcher stated: "Our research has found that exercise at sufficiently high intensity may provide an inexpensive, practical way to reverse, or reduce the loss in heart function caused by type 2 diabetes."

HIIT produces “exercise at sufficiently high intensity” and can be achieved with a series of short intervals of strenuous effort like sprints on a bike, rowing machine, hills, track, or stairs followed by moderate activity in between the sprints. A similar cardiovascular stimulus can be achieved with High Intensity Training (HIT), a series of strength training exercises with short rest between those exercises.

HIT produces a long list of cardio-respiratory fitness benefits. The added benefit is that HIT is effective in improving glycemic control. One our diabetic clients went from five shots a day down to one

At our Austin personal training facility we offer HIIT and HIT for strength. Some clients do both.  These workouts don’t take long, and you don’t have to do them with great frequency to have surprising results.  Is it worth an hour a week to increase your lifespan and more importantly your quality of life for years to come? We think it is.

"Instinctive Training" Theory - eat as much as possible, sleep whenever possible...run away from danger


If we followed our instincts we certainly wouldn’t exercise.  Arthur Jones, founder of Nautilus and  MedX exercise equipment, had this to say about following our instincts:

“For anything even approaching the best possible results from training, it is absolutely essential to work in direct opposition to your instincts. If you followed your instincts, you would do quite a number of things -- eat as much as possible, sleep whenever possible, defecate, fornicate, lie, brag, steal, run away from danger or fight if simply forced to or if faced with an obviously inferior foe in possession of something that you desired, and avoid any form of physical labor -- but you wouldn’t lift weights.” [Nautilus Bulletin # 1, Chapter 20]

Lifting weights stresses the body, and it is metabolically expensive.  Calories are expended exercising, recovering from that exercise, and restructuring as a result of the stress on the body. It runs counter to our instinct for self preservation.  Our body sends us strong signals to stop – our muscles burn, our breathing is rapid - just when the exercise is getting productive. 

Getting to the point to where strength training is productive is hard to do on your own. The exercise is often terminated early or form deteriorates and injuries result. At our Austin Strength Training facility we take care of every detail and help you maintain form to get you safely to the point where the exercise is productive. Our goal is to give you a workout you cannot get on your own.

This is a program people of any age or condition can do, and it does not take a lot of your time.  In fact, those who are most out of shape have the most upside potential because they start at a lower baseline. 

Each week you’ll come and you do at little more than your body is used to handling and over time the changes will be transformational. The long list of health benefits and fitness benefits  will motivate you stick to it even though, ironically, your instincts are telling you to do otherwise. 

Increasing Human Growth Hormone Naturally

Human growth hormone (hGH), while essential for growth, it is also important for burning fat and building calorie-burning lean tissue in adults. Unfortunately hGH declines with age. To increase the hormone you can take synthetic hGH along with its side-effects, or hGH can be increased naturally in response to a certain type of exercise (exercise-induced growth hormone response - EIGR).  From the study The exercise-induced growth hormone response in athletes:

“An exercise intensity above lactate threshold and for a minimum of 10 minutes appears to elicit the greatest stimulus to the secretion of hGH.”

This is how you get less of hGh, another quote:

“Recent evidence suggests that endurance training [i.e., running, cycling] results in decreased resting hGH and a blunted EIGR.”

And finally:

“A growing body of evidence suggests that higher intensity exercise is effective in eliciting beneficial health, well-being and training outcomes. In a great many cases, the impact of some of the deleterious effects of ageing could be reduced if exercise focused on promoting the EIGR.”

 Austin Strength Training and at New Orleans Strength Training we specialize in the type of high Intensity training that increases hGH levels.  In addition to increasing hGH, a properly designed high intensity training workout will increase energy,   bone density,  mental acuity,   testosterone, and strength.   This is a workout anyone of any age or fitness level can do.  You build up to it slowly, you improve each week, and over time you will “impact of some of the deleterious effects of ageing” - kind of like a fountain of youth.

Effectively addressing six different aspects of fitness in one workout

Most types of exercise primarily address one aspect of fitness, i.e. yoga for flexibility or running for cardiovascular endurance, while doing little to address the other aspects of fitness.  You can effectively address several aspect of fitness with a consolidated high intensity training (HIT) workout. This is a workout anyone of any age or fitness level can do.  In fact those who are out of shape will see the most improvement. You slowly build on the previous week’s improvement. No other form of exercise comes close to producing the following benefits: 

1.    HIT is a series of strength training exercises covering all the major muscle groups. With adequate rest and recovery you will come back stronger.

2.    Stronger muscles place greater demands on bones and connective tissue.  The body adapts to withstand those demands.  The result – increased bone density.

3.    HIT results in the body burning additional calories four different ways making leanness more achievable.

4.    Stronger muscles place greater demands on the cardiovascular system leading to oftentimes remarkably improved cardiovascular function. HIT is relentlessly non-stop and produces greater excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) than any other form of exercise resulting in more calories burned (see # 3).

5.    A properly designed HIT workout will do more than just increase flexibility; it will increase strength over that increased range of motion (enhanced flexibility).

6.    Enhanced flexibility and increased strength give an increased measure of protection from injuries.

There is a long list of health benefits as well.  The HIT workouts at Austin Strength Training  and New Orleans Strength Training produce measurable improvements in each of these six factors of fitness.  We use MedX exercise equipment; its medical rehab features allows us to safely work with those with limiting conditions.  The workouts last about 30 minutes and are usually done once a week.  You will still have time in your week for yoga or running. 

Tired of taking all that diabetes medication? There is another way.

What if there was a way for diabetics to control their sugar levels besides injections? There is. A quote from this study, High-Intensity Resistance Training Improves Glycemic Control in Older Patients With Type 2 Diabetes | Diabetes Care:

High-intensity progressive resistance training, in combination with moderate weight loss, was effective in improving glycemic control in older patients with type 2 diabetes. Additional benefits of improved muscular strength and LBM [lean body mass] identify high-intensity resistance training as a feasible and effective component in the management program for older patients with type 2 diabetes.”

High-intensity progressive resistance training is what we offer at Austin Strength Training and New Orleans Strength Training. One our diabetic clients, Leif, went from five shots a day down to one. When Leif first started he was overweight. He had already had a kidney removed and bypass heart surgery. He began high-intensity progressive resistance training once a week, he made modest changes in his eating habits, and he used a rowing machine at home. In the eight years he has been training with us his physical abilities have dramatically changed. Each week he did a little bit more than he was used to handling. Each week he improved, and over time, the change was transformative. Our state of health eight years from now will depend on the lifestyle choices we make now. Better to find time for exercise now or you might have to make time for sickness and injury later.

The best exercise for aging muscles

As we age muscles weaken, cell damage accumulates, and mitochondria, which produce energy, decline in number and energy output. A study sought to determine what type of exercise might best repair that mitochondria damage. The study was composed of two groups, men and women under thirty and men and women over 64. Subjects were further divided into four sub-groups. Each group did one of the following exercise regimens for 12 weeks:

  • Vigorous weight lifting

  • Moderate bike riding plus light weight lifting

  • Interval training on a bike

  • Those who did nothing

As would be expected weight lifters experienced gains in muscle and strength, and the bike interval trainers increased endurance. Unexpectedly were the changes measured in the cells. From the NYT article reporting on the study, The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles - NYTimes.com, this quote:

“Among the younger subjects who went through interval training, the activity levels had changed in 274 genes, compared with 170 genes for those who exercised more moderately and 74 for the weight lifters. Among the older cohort, almost 400 genes were working differently now, compared with 33 for the weight lifters and only 19 for the moderate exercisers.”

Another quote:

“It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was 'corrected' with exercise, especially if it was intense.”

At our Austin Personal Trainers facility we specialize in high intensity interval training (HIIT) for strength - one integrated workout combining strength training and interval training. The workout increases strength and endurance, and reverses mitochondria impairments to a level consistent with a younger stage in life. It is like having a fountain of youth. People of any age can benefit from this workout. We also have clients do interval training on stationary bikes. Past blog posts on mitochondria and a post on bike interval training.

A long list of cardiorespiratory fitness benefits from high intensity interval training

From the American Heart Association Scientific Statement, Importance of Assessing Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Clinical Practice: A Case for Fitness as a Clinical Vital Sign: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association | Circulation, an excerpt:

“Cardiorespiratory fitness is a potentially stronger predictor of mortality than established risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

It is important to note that muscles stimulate the cardiovascular system to make positive changes, not the other way around. When the muscles are too weak to push the cardiovascular system, cardiorespiratory fitness declines. High intensity interval training (HIIT) increases strength and promotes cardiorespiratory fitness. The benefits:

o Unlike many other strength training regimens this workout is cardiovascularly demanding

o  Added muscle, the engine for cardiovascular health

o Increase forced expiratory volume

o Increases capillarization

o Protects joints for doing other cardio-activities like running

o Has lower rates of cardiovascular problems than aerobic exercise for those with heart conditions.

o Better for coronary artery disease patients

o Increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure

o Improves glycemic control

As a result of doing HIIT your aches and pains will fade away, and you will be able to do the activities you enjoy – walk, run, ride your bike, gardening - better, longer and for many more years to come with less chance of injury. 

At Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers we offer HIIT. It is a 30 minute full-body workout done once or twice a week. This is a workout that you slowly build up to; anybody can do it. You’ll enhance your cardiorespiratory fitness and quality of life for decades to come.

Extending your running life for years

According to one study a force of up to three times body weight can be exerted on the human foot while running, and it can be much higher at times. Multiply that by each foot fall in a mile, and you have tons of weight absorbed through the joints and connective tissues. While some people are uniquely suited to do this high impact/high intensity jogging for decades of their adult life, many are not.

For those who want to extend their running life there is a solution; keep running and substitute one running day with one session of high intensity interval training (HIIT) for strength. One less day a week of pounding and you'll have stronger muscles protecting those joints. Add up all those daysover the course of years of giving your joints a break. Your joints will thank you for it.   

At Austin Strength Trainers and at New Orleans Strength Trainers our HIIT full-body workout takes about 25 minutes, and it's non-stop. We use MedX equipment. The special medical-rehab features make it easier on the joints. Anybody of any age can do it; each week you do a little bit more that you are used to handling. Muscles are worked to a deep fatigue, and it is cardiovascularly demanding – just like running. It will add years to your running life and to your life in general.

Short effective training sessions, lots of things to consider

For the body to change it must either exercise longer or at a higher intensity than it is used to handling.  Higher intensity workouts by necessity will be shorter, but they are very effective.  Just some of the things to considerwhen making a high intensity training (HIT) routine that is safe and effective:

· Frequency of workouts · How often should the exercise routine be varied · Time under load · Sequence of exercises · Rate of increase of resistance between sessions · Selection of specific exercises· Range of motion · Pre-exhaustion sets · Amount of rest after completing exercises on one muscle group before starting exercise on another muscle group. · Amount of rest between each repetition · Number of repetitions of an exercise for a particular muscle group. · Alternating pushing movement followed by a pulling movement · Alternating upper followed by lower body exercises · Speed during concentric movement · Speed during eccentric movement · Compound movements versus rotary movements · How heavy the weights should be · Amount of rest between each set · Number of sets of each exercise for each muscle group
· Alternating aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise in one workout · Unilateral versus bilateral movements · Negative accentuated sets · Active recovery between workouts · Concentric only exercise · Negative only sets · Negative only workouts · Static holds · Form · Type of equipment · Level of fatigue · Length of time of the workouts · Whether to go to momentary muscular failure

An experienced HIT trainer will know all of the above and more and will adapt the workout to address the specific concerns of the client and eliminate much of the trial and error.

The advantage of HIT is that it does not require hours each week engaged in monotonous exercise, and it works for all ages. Significant strength increases will result exercising as little as once or twice a week if it is done correctly.  It helps to have equipment best suited for that purpose.  At Austin Strength Training and at New Orleans Strength Training we have conducted more than 250,000 training sessions; we have a good understanding of how to manipulate the variables so you can safely produce ongoing results and avoid injuries.

The Phenomenon Of Creep In The Human Body

Creep(from Wikipedia) - In materials science, creep is the tendency of a material to move slowly or deform permanently under the influence of mechanical stresses.

Our bodies degrade similarly over time, but there is a difference. Our body is the only machine that can actually improve when stressed. When the body is exposed to more stress than it is used to handling, as a form of self-protection, the body will make a positive adaption.

The proper amount of stress is the amount that produces the most positive change, anything more than that is at best has a lower marginal return, and at worst it is damaging.

Proper strength training produces positive change.  At Strength Trainers Austin, at New Orleans Strength Training our goal is not to see how much stress you can handle, but to find the least amount that will produce the largest marginal change. Such an approach will not involve hours in the gym each week.

When properly stressed with strength training you will become stronger,increase your bone densityforestall cognitive declinelower your blood pressure,and dissipate compromising ache and painsYou’ll revitalize impaired mitochondria which means you’ll have the energy you had years earlier. Add up all these improvements: you can forestall and even reverse the phenomenon of creep. It is like having a fountain of youth.

The esoteric benefits of high intensity strength training

A small improvement in isolation is just that, a small improvement, but if you add up all the small improvements it can be quite significant, even life changing. There is an incredibly long list of benefits from high intensity strength training. From the website Body By Science, some of less familiar more esoteric benefits of high intensity strength training:

-Reversal of age-related gene expression

-HIT/BBS enacts a hormonal cascade that is the antithesis of the metabolic syndrome.
-Gut motility correlates with muscle mass. Risk of GI cancer inversely correlates with gut motility.
-Organ mass correlates with muscle mass. Get in an accident or severely burn yourself and the time you have in the ICU before you die is correlated with organ mass. You have more time on the clock.
-Get in a car wreck and this kind of conditioning may be the difference between 3 days of whiplash symptoms and a lifetime in a wheelchair (which will be a shortened lifetime).

-Cardiovascular benefits (see JEP article by Steele et al).
-BDNF elevations with high intensity exercise staves off/reverses age related decline and dementia.
-Enhances nitric oxide synthetase: you will have good blood pressure and will never need a little blue pill. You will not need to worry about “being healthy enough for sexual activity”.
-Bone mineral density correlates with muscle mass. Even in osteopenia, strong muscles absorb forces and prevent fractures.
-Basal metabolism and hormonal profile that fight obesity.

From our website more benefits are listed here.  At New Orleans Strength Trainers and at Austin Strength Trainers we have a long list of clients who have testified to life-altering positive change.

There is an alternative to the positive changes produced by proper exercise.  Do nothing; there will be a series of changes that will eventually result in a shorter compromised life.

The same results exercising in just 1/5 the time

A study examined the effects of two different exercise protocols on health indicators such as insulin sensitivity and cardio-respiratory fitness. The two protocols: the sprint exercise protocol (SIT), three 20-second ‘all-out’ cycle sprints with two minutes of easy cycling between sprints and the moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) protocol, 45 minutes of cycling at a moderate pace. Both had warm-up and cool down periods.

A quote from this article, No time to get fit? Think again, that reported on the study:

“After 12 weeks of training, the results were remarkably similar, even though the MICT protocol involved five times as much exercise and a five-fold greater time commitment.”

And another quote:

““This is a very time-efficient workout strategy,” says Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study. “Brief bursts of intense exercise are remarkably effective.””

The body adapts when exposed to more than it can handle; Sprints will do that. It is not how much exercise you can withstand it is how little is necessary to produce a positive result. This is an exercise regime that will change you, and it is one you can stick to; it's one of the exercise protocols we use at New Orleans Fitness Training and at Austin TX Fitness Training.

The wisdom of setting the bar lower from a former Olympic hopeful

After spending several hours in the gym the first week of the year, the man told me, “Six months from now I will be doing the butterfly across that pool”. I didn’t see the man the next week; in fact, I never saw him again. What good is an exercise program that requires several hours a week if you don’t stick to it? It is worse than useless if you are paying monthly bank drafts to the gym/collection agency.

From this NY Times article Advice From a Former Olympic Hopeful: Set the Bar Low - The New York Times some quotes:

“There are those who manage to maintain a rigorous fitness routine despite the demands of work and family. But far more common are folks like me — those who have a hard time fitting fitness into daily life.”

“I asked myself, what’s a goal that I know I could achieve? I settled on two short workouts a week. I figured at a minimum I could get in a run every Saturday and Sunday.”

“As it turns out, my approach is sanctioned by science ... a growing body of evidence is showing that doing higher-intensity workouts just a couple days a week can be just as good for you. I now understand that quality need not be quantity.”

Instead of seeing how much exercise you can fit into your life see what is the least amount that will produce the highest marginal return, the biggest bang for your limited free time.  If you do that, make modest dietary changes, and do an activity you enjoy you will find that a year from now you’ll still be doing it, and your quality of life will have profoundly changed.  At Austin Personal Trainer and New Orleans personal Trainer we can help you achieve that change without endless hours in the gym.

Peak strength and endurance at the same time, Is it doable?

An active Marine who trained a lot once told me, "Whenever I do my personal best at bench press my running is way off, and whenever I am at my best at running my bench press suffers". Alan Page was a 260 pound defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Toward end of his career he had trained for and completed a marathon – the first active NFL player to do so. He lost a significant amount of muscle; so much so that he switched position to linebacker at 225 pounds. When you run great distances carting around more muscle is demanding. You can improve strength and endurance at the same time. Strength and endurance complement each other up to a point. At some point one is going to suffer at the expense of the other. It is best to seek a balance. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for strength will increase both endurance and strength. At Austin Personal Trainingand New Orleans Fitness trainers the trainers can put you through a series of exercises with little rest that will have your heart racing and have your muscles exhausted. Rest, recover, improve, and come back next week stronger with more endurance.

Is exercise really worth it?

The answer to the question depends on the type of exercise. Would you like to do things you have not done in years?  Do you want to have a lower blood sugar levellower blood pressureincreased cognitive function,higher testosterone levelincreased human growth hormoneless body fat,improved postureincreased maximum oxygen uptakeincreased bone densitya higher resting metabolism, more lean body mass, and increased resistance to disease and injury? 

Would you like to eliminate back pain and nagging injuries?  It would be nice to lessen arthritis pain, sleep better, and have an overall feeling of well being.  All of that is possible and will not require hours out of your week if you perform exercise that produces the highest marginal return for the effort and time spent – namely HIIT, high intensity interval training for strength. 

Add to that, a sensible eating plan you can stick to. Then do something you enjoy – running, ride, yoga, or walking the dog. If you are so inclined add sprint training.  In total, sprint and HIIT, it takes me about an hour and half of my week.  Your free time need not be spent in drugery.

Improvement on some of the above measures can make all the difference – avoid a herniated disc, a frozen shoulder, or type-2 diabetes or wall away from a fall unjured.  Even if you improve just a bit on all the measures, collectively that can be huge. 

Is it worth your time and effort to avoid the infirmities mentioned above? The personal trainers at Austin Fitness Training and New Orleans Fitness Training are convinced it is. 

Cardiovascular benefits of strength training

After a high intensity strength training workout you will be breathing hard.  This video was taken three minutes after a workout, so that I could get some of my wind back and have my pulse come down a bit.  EPOC, Essessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is high after aerobic exercise, higher still after a strength training workout, and highest after a high intensity strength training workout.  A higher level of EPOC means more calories burned.  With a high intensity strength training workout, besides getting stronger, you will  positively affect your cardiovascular system, lower your sugar, and and burn calories long after the workout is over.

Winning more but training less

A few years back Laurence participated in the New York City Triathlon. He did well but didn’t win his age group.  Three years later, he finished 24th overall in the New York City Triathlon overall and finished first in his age group, 45 to 49. He beat his nearest competitor by over five minutes. He attributed a large part of his success to HIIT, high intensity interval training, a strength/cardio workout taken to a deep fatigue.

He had been doing it four years along with his usual swimming, running, biking, and kayaking. His times in triathlon events came down. The strength training program enabled him to spend less time on his bike and in the pool. More time for recovery resulted in continuing improvement. 

“I am stronger, recover faster and only devote 30 minutes a week to weightlifting. It is like discovering the fountain of youth. It really does work.”

The workout is based on not seeing how much exercise you can withstand, but how little intense strength training you need to produce the most results, so that you can spend more time doing other things or other forms of exercise.

At our  Austin Personal Training  facility you won’t spend hours exercising several times a week.  Feeling run down is not a pathway to improvement. The personal training sessions are infrequent (once or twice a week) and short (20 to 30 minutes). If you are an athlete these personal training sessions enable you to spend more time on sport-specific skill training. Some of the NFL teams train this way resulting in more time of the field and less time the in the gym.

People of any age or condition can do this.  Each individual exercises at an intensity level that will be appropriate for them. You improve each week if given adequate recovery time. This is a program anyone can stick to.

Exercise Intensity

What is exercise intensity and why is it important?

In simplest terms it is how hard an exercise is at a point in time.  It is the level of momentary exertion during exercise.  This can be quantified by measures such as a person's heart rate expressed as percentage of one's maximum heart rate or pounds of weight lifted expressed as a perecentage of one's one-rep maximum lift. Exercise of sufficient intensity is necessary to stimulate the body to make a change.  When the body is worked beyond what it is equipped to handle the body adapts as a form of self-protection.   The body will make a positive adaptation only if given enough time to recover from the exercise.  

How high should the level of exercise intensity be?

That depends on what you want to accomplish. The body will adapt to the nature of the demands placed on it.  If one engages in lower intensity activities such as running the body adapts by increasing endurance for that activity with little or no increase in muscle strength.  If one engages in higher intensity exercise such as weight lifting the body adapts by getting stronger but with less improvement in the way of endurance. 

If one’s goal is to get stronger how much high intensity exercise is necessary?

The higher the intensity the less exercise you will be able to withstand, but this high intensity exercise produces a bigger stimulus for strength gains. The larger stimulus for strength gains requires a longer recovery period.   For the elite athlete the required intensity level will be quite high, but for those who do little physical activity that intensity level will be lower and manageable.  Whether you are 18 or 80 there will be a level that you can manage.  

There is a wide range of individual differences in response to high intensity exercise and how much each person can withstand.   Some will show great results and some people will be low responders.   An experienced trainer will see the difference and change the workout accordingly.

Try performing squats with adequate weight such that you cannot possibly continue with good form after ninety seconds.  Try doing it again the next week with more weight or for more reps.  You will find that most everybody will improve, and in fact, the improvement at first will come easily as your body will be well rested.  If you improve doing just one set an additional set is unnecessary and only serves to dilute intensity.  By doing fewer leg exercises you will be able to devote more energy and effort for rest of the muscles of your body.   If you work sufficiently hard on every exercise your workout will be less that half an hour.  For those who have been inactive and not accustomed to this method one can slowly build up the intensity at their own pace.

How much time is needed to recover from high intensity exercise? 

If you start from the premise of how much exercise can you withstand this will lead to drudgery, insufficient recovery, lower intensity, less results, and eventually quitting and injury.  Some spend several hours a week in the gym just to maintain their present level of fitness or they claim they have hit a plateau.  It does not have to be that way.  If they worked out a little less often the quality of their workouts would improve and they might begin to see improvement again.

If you start from the premise of how little the amount of intense exercise you can get away with and still achieve positive results you will find you are willing to workout at a much higher level of intensity, have more time to recovery, and have better results.  How often you need to workout will depend on a number of factors; most important are level of intensity, duration of exercise, and frequency of certain exercises. You can discover the right formula through trial and error.  If you can find a trainer who knows how to manipulate these variables, and most importantly, knows how to do this safely you will find your continued improvement will be measured in years instead of months.  With the right supervision this is a strength training program that people of any age or fitness level can stick to -  a 30 minute workout, usually once or twice a week with continuing positive results.