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Whether you are a muscle enthusiast, fitness fanatic or casual exerciser with average muscular strength and body composition, it is sometimes necessary to crank up the workout intensity to propel your body, mind and psyche to the next level. This article will explore the essential components of an abbreviated high intensity training cycle that will help drop body fat, pack on muscle mass and enhance your general level of physical fitness.
The first crucial step in developing any effective workout program is to document short term and long term goals. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on a six week period of time as a parameter for goal setting. During this period of time, body fat measurements should be taken and documented every seven days. Once a baseline body composition level has been established, realistic weekly goals should be written down and assessed at seven day intervals.
It is important to mention that everybody burns body fat and builds muscle tissue at different rates. Due to hormonal differences between genders, men typically lose body fat and gain muscle mass faster than women do.
However, it can be argued that many women possess a drive and determination that is superior and can result in rates of body fat loss and lean muscle gains that rivals that of men. Other factors that influence the rate that fat is lost and muscle is gained include current fitness level, current body composition, lifestyle and genetics.
Giving consideration to the above stated factors, on average and during an intense workout training cycle, a person can expect to lose anywhere from three to five pounds of bodyweight per week. For some it will be a little less but for many it can be much more. Under the right conditions, a person can lose 30 to 40 pounds in just six weeks. However, it is important to remain disciplined and focused on incremental, measurable weekly progress.
While there are many different ways to approach a structured goal oriented strategy, perhaps the simplest form involves weekly measurements of body composition. Body composition refers to a person’s body fat weight to lean body weight ratio. Not everyone has easy access to body fat measurement devices or fitness professionals to document and gauge body composition levels.
While the ideal means to measuring body fat is through a process called hydrostatic weighing, which involves submerging a person in water to determine a precise measurement of lean body weight compared to body fat weight, the simplest means is to purchase a self-measuring body fat skin fold caliper device. These devices are extremely inexpensive and easy to use. Most come with a chart and instructions and the tool can be used immediately.
It is true that there is a margin of error that is associated with the use of a skin fold caliper, but the device is ideal for measuring progress. It is less important that a skin fold caliper device has a margin of error of +/- 2% than knowing that several body fat percentage points are lost over a given period of time. By self-measuring body fat, greater accuracy can be achieved as the variance of individual measuring methods is eliminated. By easily measuring body fat at home with a skin fold caliper, the amount of lean body weight compared to total body fat can be determined and goals established.
Get your skin fold caliper here.
High Intensity Training
While it is beyond the scope of this article to prescribe a precise training regimen for rapid fat loss and muscle building, the below elements must be present in order to achieve the desired amount of weight loss or muscle gain.
During this abbreviated high intensity workout cycle, resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and interval training should be performed six times per week. Notice thfat I said six times rather than six days. Ideally, the workouts should be performed four days per week with two of the days having two workout sessions. The days off of the program should not be back-to-back, but rather spaced about three days apart.
The workouts that are performed during the abbreviated high intensity workout cycle should be high intensity in nature. For our purposes, intensity refers to the amount of rest between sets of exercise or intervals, heart rate and level of fatigue.
Generally, exercises should be performed in rapid succession with less than one minute of rest between the primary sets of exercise or intervals. Intervals and sets of resistance exercise should take between 45 seconds and two minutes with a near maximal effort. This will drive the heart rate well into the fat burning range of over 120 beats per minute and cause momentary muscular failure after several sets or intervals.
Cardiovascular exercise should be performed at level of intensity where there are intervals of high intensity output and lower intensity output. Periods of three to five minutes of high intensity work followed by a one to two minute recovery period is ideal.
The duration of all workouts should not exceed one hour, including warm up and cool down time. The primary portion of the workout session when the hard work is performed should last approximately 40 minutes. This will allow the heart rate to be elevated for an appropriate period of time to enhance fat loss and stress muscle tissue enough to stimulate muscle growth.
It is important to remember that the metabolism is enhanced for several hours following an intense workout. The soft tissues of the body take several days to recover and food that is ingested is used to support muscle strength gains.
The beauty of an abbreviated high intensity workout cycle is that there is an abundance of freedom in exercise type selection. These workouts can be performed at a commercial gym, a home gym or even in your living room. There are many at-home workout programs on the market that implement the elements described above and provide the appropriate amount of intensity to achieve the desired result.
The topic of diet for weight loss and nutrition for muscle building is best reserved for other articles. Explore Destination Jacked and read about how diet and nutritional supplements influence how fast and effectively body fat is lost and muscle is gained. By browsing and exploring the site’s content, you will learn about the best strategies, workouts, diet plans and supplements for weight loss and muscle building.
Here are a few articles on the topic of diet and nutrition to get you started:
With weekly body composition measurements, you will get an idea of the progress that is being made. Full percentages of body fat may not be lost each week, but body fat weight should be decreasing while lean weight should stay the same or increase. Initially, a reduction in lean weight will likely be experienced due to loss of water from the intense exercise. But after a couple of weeks, lean weight levels should stabilize or increase.
People of all fitness levels can employ an abbreviated high intensity workout cycle to blast through a training plateau, prepare for beach season, get in shape for a wedding or special event or just physically challenge their body. By taking regular body fat measurements and setting realistic goals, rapid and significant loss in body fat levels can occur along with noticeable improvements of muscle mass and physical strength. However, the level of success is dependent upon discipline, dedication and consistency.