Building Strength, Endurance and Muscle, High Intensity Interval Training Works!

 I tend to train for specific goals, rather than to look good for whatever reason. So long as I can fit into my pants and board shorts, I’m happy. .

That said, if I need to increase my strength, muscle mass, or to burn off some extra fat, the training protocol that gets the fastest results in the shortest amount of time wins. Even it hurts. A lot. Like HIT. A couple of brutal workouts a week of non-stop all out weight lifting, body weight training or both is highly effective. You will build muscle, you will burn fat. You will increase anaerobic capacity. (Allelujah!)

Why do I bring this up? Because after trolling (is it still trolling if I don’t leave comments?) a few six pack ab type videos this morning, it dawned on me: The majority of trainers/wannabe trainers and coaches posting these videos are doing bodyweight calisthenics and HIT training. 

This is good. Bodyweight routines such as

5 rounds of 10 each:

Jump Squats
Tripod Switches
Hindu Pushups

are very effective at increasing anaerobic and aerobic capacity. You might even build some muscle and increase speed, agility and power. But if these folks are saying to build muscle with HIT in order to burn fat and look good, heavy free weights are a faster way (although you should always keep tons of bodyweight work in your program-stay in touch with your temple and all that.) and yes, the exercises I choose will also encourage six pack abs. Just don’t go out and chow down at Olive Garden afterwards…

So, to demonstrate this better way, I am challenging you to follow along with these workouts I post here, which may or may not be accompanied by my own or someone else’s (read: stolen) photos or videos.
Let’s start right now. I am actually going into my garage gym to do this after we’re done talking. Do a warm up of joint rotations and bar only or light weight for each exercise before you start hitting it for real. Use weights that allow 10-12 repetitions initially. This further prepares the muscles and allows you to make several drops to failure.
Per the HIT principles, go until you literally cannot go any more. If it is a deadlift, pull until you can’t get the bar off the floor at all. When you fail at one weight, drop some plates off and keep going. This will work much better with a partner, but if you don’t have one, move as fast as you can and get right back under/over the weight. When you can not lift even a light weight, your set is done, and so is that exercise.
So Workout 1:
Standing Military Press (to front)
Overhead Squats
An example deadlift set might be: 225# x10-12, drop to 205# for 8-10, drop to 185# for 5-8, drop to 135# for ?, drop to ? for ? These are just example weights and reps. Push yourself at a weight appropriate for you, whether that is 355# or 135#. Either way the poundage will go up quickly over the weeks.
So do the above three exercises, in order, without resting in between (except to drop weight) using the ‘one set to failure’ HIT principle on each. If you want to ensure a quick transition to each exercise, set up stations using barbells and dumbbells. For example, barbell deadlift, dumbbell standing press, bb, kb or db oh squat. Of course, then you need quick change dumbbells or lots of equipment, but it’s an option.

Although this is a simple routine, it is a great way to stimulate massive growth, especially in the lower body. Try keeping it simple for awhile, and keep the intensity high. Then mix it up after a few weeks with new exercises. The results will be phenomenal, if you can take the pain!

Home Workout Equipment for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain-My Top Six

When it comes to exercise equipment for the home gym, there is no shortage of choices. No matter what your goal, how much space, time or money you have, there are always dozens of goodies for your home workout space. But what do you really need and what works?

The answer is that a lot of home gym equipment would work a lot better if the person using it put more effort into it! Seriously, though, there are some things more deserving of your precious time and money. Here are Mo’s top choices. They were chosen for price, space efficiency and effectiveness, but if you really want a big power rack capable of spotting your 500 pound squat, go for it. You certainly get a lot of value for your money.

1. Homemade Suspension Trainer: There are dozens of ways to make a homemade suspension trainer, but the easiest, and cheapest is rope and pvc pipe. If you don’t know how to make this, you can read how here: Functional Suspension Training Tools

2. Homemade Suspension Trainer, Chains: As with the rope and pvc pipe version, the chain you need for this is pretty cheap. You will need eyehooks for the ceiling joists, about 20 feet of chain, and four carabiners. So this is a little more expensive than #1, but still a bargain and with the added advantage of quick and easy adjustment.

3. The Real Suspension Trainers: Read: TRX or Jungle Gym XT. A lot of people love the Jungle Gym XT for the split design and comfortable handles and foot cradles. But they are both comfortable, and TRX is built like a tank. Check it out:

4. Dumbbells: You can get as fancy or cheap as you want with these. You might be thinking BowFlex Selecttech right? Well, sure, those are nice, they have some that go up to 90 lbs. and they take up little space. They fail in the price category, however. Several hundred dollars per pair.

Advantages: Multiple dumbbells in one, quick adjustment, ergonomic handles you will love, and a handy stand for setting them on.
Disadvantages: Expensive, big. The dumbbells are BIG.

You can get a lot of bang for the buck by spending less than $100 on an adjustable pair. You know, the ones with the spinning collars? With some imagination, this a complete gym, and buying extra plates is cheap and easy.

5. Medicine Balls or Sandbags: Both of these can be improvised, but I suggest popping for good medicine balls. They are well worth the money. Notice I used the plural? Buy a set with a minimum weight of 4 or 5 pounds and a mazimum weight of 10 or 12. Alone, these can be a great workout (see: Medicine Ball Workouts  )

Combined with bodyweight exercises and plyometrics, medicine balls will kick, your, butt.

On the other hand, sandbags can be improvised for a few bucks. Buy sand or salt (like the kind used in a water softener,) tape the ends, secure in plastic trash bags, and stuff inside a duffle or quick-tie sack. You will want three: One light, one moderate, and one brutally heavy.

Have other ideas? Looking for cardo equipment? Sorry if it didn’t make this list, but if cardio is what you really want, hit the road. On your feet that is. If you want to build some lean, fat-burning muscle, however, the equipment listed above will provide hours of gut-grinding, muscle pumping entertainment. Check out the articles below for some on ideas on getting started:

Looking for rope, chain, or sandbags?