A common misconception is that long periods of moderate exercise are needed to shed fat and build muscle.
That’s not necessarily the case, as HICT training can provide people with many of the same benefits in only a fraction of the time.
HICT Training: An Overview
Made popular by UFC trainer Joel Jaieson, High Intensity Continuous Training or HICT trains all three energy systems in the body, which are:
- Alactic (ATP-PC)-A short-lived but powerful system that allows you to perform heavy work in short bursts lasting from 10-14 seconds.
- Anaerobic, which burns oxygen and carbohydrates, and provides energy for powerful work for between 60 to 90 seconds.
- Aerobic, a system capable of functioning for long periods, and alternates between using stored fat and carbohydrates for fuel.
For maximum performance, all three of these systems must be trained, because if even one of them is ineffective, the other two will suffer.
A HICT workout does this by using strong, dynamic movement patterns that combine cardio and resistance training during the same session, alternating between upper and lower body exercises for total body conditioning.
HICT Training Basics
During a HICT training workout, you should perform exercises that require large movements, yet can be sustained for a reasonable period of time. Some exercises that meet this requirement are:
- Goblet squats
- Ring push-ups
- Ring rows
- Chest supported rows
- Sledgehammer swing
Perform anywhere from one to three repetitions of each exercise (or up to five if the movement is very fast paced).
You should ideally perform around five seconds or so of work before taking a few breaths and beginning again.
The goal is to keep your heartrate at around 150 beats per minute or lower, ensuring you are able to breathe through your nose the entire time.
Continue in this manner until a certain amount of time has elapsed.
Depending on your fitness level, this could be anywhere from five to twenty minutes.
There are some distinct benefits to High Intensity Continuous Training, such as:
- Greater mitochondrial density, meaning you can train harder and faster.
- Improved circulation to the muscles.
- Eccentric cardiac hypertrophy, which involves the heart pumping a greater volume of blood during every stroke.
- Better oxidative capacities of fast twitch muscles.
HICT also offers a unique mental benefit by making it possible to put out a large amount of continuous work without requiring a stress response from your body.
This is because you are associating hard work with slow, steady breathing and good cognitive function.
During a workout, you may notice a little lactate building up in your muscles.
A slight amount of lactate is okay; however, you could wind up training the wrong system if too much builds up.
If you notice this, allow enough time for the lactate to clear your muscles before doing another rep.
If you feel there is never enough time for working out, you may want to consider High Intensity Continuous Training.
HICT training can provide you with greater results in less time, and is suitable for people of all fitness levels.