Intervals during weight training?

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Intervals during weight training?

by kheegster » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:13 am

I've seen some advice to maintain a high heartrate while doing resistance training, and workout systems like CrossFit, Mtn Athlete etc seem to advocate keeping a high intensity during resistance sessions as well.

However, this doesn't make sense to me. I would think that being able to focus entirely on form while during weights is more beneficial than doing the workout while feeling worked. Conversely, I'd rather do separate interval sessions where I can push myself without worrying about injury and dropping weights on myself etc.

While I can see the benefit of combining high intensity during resistance workout if one is pressed for time, for people who have enough time to do separate resistance and interval sessions this seems to make more sense.

What do y'all think?

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by bird » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:37 pm

The goal of the high intensity workouts is to improve work capacity over time.
For example let's say the task is to move 3,000 lbs 2 feet off the ground. You can lift 30lbs 100 times, or 100lbs 30 times, or any variation. My 4 year old could lift 3lbs 1000times over the course of a few days. But someone who lifts 100lbs 30 times in 3 minutes has a greater work capacity over time.
I don't know the specifics behind it, but placing these work capacity demands on the body creates a metabolic response that increases general fitness significantly.
When doing a high intensity effort, the weight used should be low enough that you can control it and maintain your form during the workout. That's where the practice of single lifting days come into play. As well as knowing what weight works for you (start light!)
I suggest you try it for 3 months and see for yourself. As long as you are smart about it, you have nothing to lose.

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by sshankle » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:25 pm

This is part of the CrossFit protocol that is not discussed much... There are days focused on exactly what you're talking about. A few from the last few weeks are listed below, each line is 1 workout, none are for time, and all should still be high intensity as the load should be as much as you can possibly do and still complete the sets.

a) Deadlift 5-5-5-5-5-5-5 reps

b) 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 rep rounds of:
135 pound Sumo deadlift high-pull
Pull to inverted hang and lower as slowly as possible
(Not for Time, and not a max rep, but still heavy)

c) Back Squat 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 reps

d) 1 rep max Clean, 1 rep max Bench press, 1 rep max Overhead squat

e) Deadlift 3-3-3-3-3 reps

f) other max lifts prescribed occasionally are overhead press, snatch, clean, clean and jerk, overhead squat, etc.

Then of course there are many days with sub max loads done at high reps for time in interval cycles, like the ones it sounds like you've seen.

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by MarkDidier » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:06 pm

First, go back and ask what you are trying to accomplish in that specific workout - are you in a cutting, bulking or just a general conditioning phase? Once that question is answered then you can ask if this type of workout makes sense. My guess is that this particular workout is designed for a cutting and/or conditioning phase - and is very effective as in theory you burn more fat, and the resistance training is geared towards helping you maintain muscle mass (do some searching on Metabolic Resistance Training for theory details).

IMHO - I have found this type of workout, or supersetting combing an upper and a lower body excercise, does wonder for my conditioning. I had my best hiking year ever last year at age 46 once I started focusing on the legs!

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Re: Intervals during weight training?

by Ze » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:39 am

kheegster wrote:While I can see the benefit of combining high intensity during resistance workout if one is pressed for time, for people who have enough time to do separate resistance and interval sessions this seems to make more sense.

Well intervals certainly add a cardiovascular aspect to your weightlifting, so you can more out of it in that sense. And that's especially important if you aren't doing a lot else for cardio. If you don't care about cardio at all, then perhaps it doesn't matter.

As bird said, you keep trying to improve your workload through more weight and/or more sets. You do the weight / rest time / sets at the rate that you need to while not losing form. Then improve from there.

What's the benefit if you're already doing cardio? Well at very worst you'll look like a badass dripping sweat and huffin and puffing around the gym going nonstop while all the schmoes are sitting on their bench doing arm curls every few minutes :P

But there is other benefit. Let's back up a second. To get greatest conditioning you want to workout intensely - which quite likely means you will need some days of rest as well. Let's say you got 4 days a week to do resistance / cardio. How would you break it up? How many days would you spend lifting weights? Would you do cardio and weights on the same days?

If work the whole body in a single workout with weights (twice a week), then that leaves you other days to do cardio. If you were taking your time in between sets, you'd need a loooong time to do that whole body workout.

Or you could chose to do some muscles on different days, and mix in cardio on each day. However, this likely will be less beneficial from a hypertrophy / strength gain standpoint.

Producing large forces is the most important element in strength / hypertrophy, so you do want to have some rest between sets of a same muscle. What I do is sort of mini circuits, say of 3 different exercises and cycle sets. This way I'm constantly doing something, but give each exercise a few mins rest. This works very well.

With decent nutrition, you can easily get out what you want in 2 days. That leaves other days for intense cardio training / stretching / sleeping in.

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