If we had a dollar for every well-intentioned person who’s centered his or her fat-burning efforts around low- to moderate-intensity cardio sessions, we could make Fort Knox our summer retreat. This “I’m trying to lose weight, so I’m just doing cardio” attitude has become epidemic, as people waste countless hours on ellipticals, tread-mills, and stationary bikes, with very little to show for it. The results they’re after, of course, are wash-board abs and an overall leaner physique, which is best accomplished through high-intensity lifting at appreciable volumes.
Enter Hiit 100s, M&F’s most efficient program to date for whittling away stubborn body fat in a short period of time. Stick to the following workouts for a full six weeks while keeping your diet clean, and that shredded body you could never achieve through endless cardio sessions will be yours very soon.
You’re probably familiar with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). When it comes to cardio, HIIT is definitely the best way to strip off body fat, to the extent that there’s literally no reason to hop on a treadmill and run at a steady pace for 30 or more minutes unless you’re an endurance athlete. And if you’re reading this magazine, chances are you don’t desire the physique of a marathoner.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with HIIT, it involves intervals of high-intensity exercise (such as running at 90% of your max heart rate) followed by low intensity (walking at a moderate pace) or complete rest. This is in sharp contrast to the typical steady-state cardio most people do at a moderate intensity, such as walking on a treadmill at 60–70% of their max heart rate. HIIT was originally de- veloped by track coaches to train runners, but it has crossed over to the fitness industry due to its fat-burning benefits confirmed many times over in scientific studies (see “HIIT Findings”). A lot of these studies found that subjects performing HIIT burned significantly more body fat—and in less time—than those who did steady-state cardio programs.
The major reason HIIT works so well for dropping body fat is due to the greater calorie burn (or EPOC—excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) that’s maintained after the workout is over. In other words, you burn more calories and more body fat while you’re sitting around doing nothing. In addition to this increase in resting metabolism, HIIT is effective at enhancing the mechanisms in muscle cells that promote fat burning and blunt fat storage.
When most people think of HIIT they think of it as applicable only for cardio, yet it can also be used in weight training. After all, weight training itself is a form of HIIT—you do a set with all-out effort, rest, then do another set, rest, and repeat. Resting two to three minutes between sets, however, is too long for a training session to be considered an effective form of HIIT. But all you have to do is shorten rest periods and you’re doing a kind of HIIT that burns fat.
For this HIIT 100s program, I’ve combined HIIT not only with weights but also with two very popular, intense, and effective weight- training techniques: German volume training (GVT) and Hundreds training. With GVT, aka 10x10, you do 10 sets of 10 reps on a given exercise. Hundreds, as the name implies, involves doing 100-rep sets.
With Hundreds, you’ll do 10 sets of 10 reps for one exercise per muscle group. Sounds the same as GVT, right? Not exactly. HIIT is incorporated via the rest periods between those 10 sets. You’ll start with just 60 seconds between sets at the beginning of the program and progressively drop rest periods by 10 seconds over six weeks until you have no rest and are doing 100 reps straight through. The two forms of training are technically different, but late in the HIIT 100s program, when you’re resting only 10 or 20 seconds between sets of 10, there’s little to distinguish them as far as the toll they take on your body.
METHOD TO THE MADNESS
The following workouts are simple to follow, just not very easy to do. For each major muscle group, after following the HIIT 100s protocol on your first exercise, you’ll do three more sets to failure of the same exercise using your 10-rep max (10RM). Of course, after doing 10 sets of 10 reps, you’ll no longer be able to complete 10 full reps with your 10RM weight—probably more like 5–7 reps. On the third set, you’ll do a dropset with the same weight you used for HIIT 100s (50% of your 10RM) and do as many reps as possible. Three sets of one or two more exercises and you’ll be done with that muscle group for the day. Rest between all sets following the HIIT 100s exercise is limited to one minute to maximize fat burning.
You’ll follow the muscle group–specific weight training with one last dose of HIIT 100s using a full-body exercise such as bar- bell or dumbbell cleans; kettlebell swings; barbell or dumbbell deadlifts; barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell snatches; or my own unique lift known as the dead/curl/press.
On HIIT 100s sets during Weeks 1–3, when rest periods are 30 seconds or more, perform the first three sets of 10 as fast and explosively as possible. This will help build more muscle power and strength, despite using such light weight. On Sets 4–6, keep the movement slow and controlled, focusing on the contraction and squeezing each rep at the top for one to two seconds. This helps establish a strong mind-muscle connection, which is critical for muscle size, shape, and separation. During Weeks 4–6, when rest periods are down to 20 seconds or less, your goal is to simply complete the 100 reps. Don’t worry about rep speed or control; just get the reps done with the best form possible while your muscles are on fire.
On HIIT 100s exercises, select a weight that’s equal to 50% of what you could nor- mally do for 10 reps. Don’t worry about going too heavy. If you can’t complete all 10 reps before the eighth set, drop the weight by 5–10 pounds. If you can’t complete 10 reps during or after the eighth set, finish all 10 sets doing as many reps as possible for each. The next time you train that muscle group, decrease the starting weight by 5–10 pounds.
If any of the HIIT 100s exercises are new to you, you’ll need to spend some time figur- ing out how much weight you can do for 10 reps. The week before you start the HIIT 100s program, work these exercises into your training to get a gauge on appropriate weights. When estimating your 10RM, be sure to do the HIIT exercise first for that muscle group. For example, if you don’t know what your 10RM is on the bench press, do bench as the first exercise in your chest workout, aiming for a weight that allows you to complete exactly 10 reps, then follow with your typical chest routine.
HUNDREDS OF BENEFITS
While the major benefit of this program is rapid fat loss, the fringe benefits are just as impressive. Even though the weights you use will need to be light, your muscles will still get the signal to grow. HIIT 100s make a very light weight brutally difficult to move. This pushes muscle fatigue to new levels, which stimulates the release of muscle- building hormones.
Another obvious benefit of doing 100 reps with progressively shorter rest periods is increased muscle endurance, which will boost your conditioning—a big advantage
if you play sports. Even if you’re not an athlete, this benefit will ring loud and clear in your workouts. When you go back to your regular regimen, where you’re resting a couple of minutes between sets, your muscle recovery will be quicker, thus allowing you to get more reps with the same weight on successive sets and delivering a greater stimulus.