Let’s pretend that you’re a contractor and you’ve been hired to build a house. I think we can agree that a house is a pretty complex structure, right? It requires a lot of different elements—a foundation, solid walls, good plumbing, sturdy floors, etc. Here’s the catch—you only get one tool to build the house. I’m going to toss you a hammer and say, “good luck!” How easy do you think it will be to get that job done?
The correct answer is impossible.
Now, transpose your vision of a well-built, sturdy, livable house, onto that of a healthy body of equal caliber. Is one tool enough to build that healthy body that looks good, moves well, and has longevity? You just said, “No, it isn’t,” didn’t you? Well, I agree.
But a lot of folks are trying to do that with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). They’re using one, limited tool to try to construct an entire body—one that’s strong, that moves well, that looks great—with just one tool. Listen, we’d love it if it were that easy, but reality tells a different story about transformation and lasting results. That story reads something like: people need a holistic training approach to transform their bodies and maintain lasting change.
Before we move on, let’s take a quick time out to make sure that we’re on the same page about HIIT. There’s no bashing going on here—HIIT is a good tool. We use it in our metabolic conditioning classes at BSP NOVA. So, don’t think that I’m saying that it isn’t worthy. What I am saying is that we can’t solely depend on it for creating a holistically strong, attractive body that’s robust with longevity.
Ok, sports fans, moving on.
Now, when it comes to conditioning—HIIT is a form of conditioning—we have to ask ourselves a question…what’s the goal?
Unless a person is training for something specific, a race, etc., conditioning should do three things for adults—prepare them for whatever life throws at them, help them maintain cardiovascular health, and help them look good in their birthday suits. We’re all going to be naked at some point, and it’s nice when other people want to see our special brand of naked. (P.S. It feels pretty good to like looking at your body, too.)
When we consider those three goals, we have to think about our current level of fitness. If it’s been a while since we’ve exercised, jumping into HIIT classes a few times per week will not only turn our clothes into wet dishrags, it’ll also likely set us up for an injury. Starting with cardiovascular health, and preparation for life’s physical surprises, in mind is more productive than ripping into a HIIT class because we want abs. That’s a simple example denoting the importance of preparation, but exercise planning is a little more than that—especially if the goal is a transformative, lasting result.
Transformation is a complex process that requires several elements—the holistic approach mentioned earlier. It’s using strength training to build muscle and a solid foundation that maintains a healthy frame. It’s training to improve our mobility and flexibility to acquire, and maintain, healthy joint range of motion. It’s considering your lifestyle, and your stressors, along with your nutrition and whether or not they’re working for you. When we consider all of these holistically, and choose the right starting point based on where you currently are, and where you want to be, then we can select the right tools to build the healthy, good-looking, long-lasting body that you want. That’s how to get it done. Picking up one, limited tool and swinging it like a maniac may work for a little while, but it’s not going to keep you going forward—and it certainly won’t produce lasting results.
So, while HIIT is a good tool, it’s not all you need. Think holistically about your body, and your life, and where all the elements of lasting training results fit. Are you moving as well as you could be? Could you use a little more strength? Do you have your nutrition dialed in? Is your sleep on point? Do you need some basic cardiovascular training to make sure that you’re prepared for life?
If you’re having a hard time answering those questions, we’d love to help you answer them during one of our strategy sessions.
But, if nothing else, just make sure that you have more than one tool in your toolbox.