My question is really general and doesn't pertain to any one specific individual but seeing the question about the Bizzy diet on here makes me question. Its workout plans instructs individuals to perform high intensity interval training to 'melt the fat'. But, can HIIT even be performed effectively by people who haven't practiced any cardio at all in a long time? Say a couch potato who has only lifted weights and never actually run? Situations like that.



HIIT is now the industry standard for safe and highly effective fat loss whilst conserving muscle mass. Any strength coach worth his salt will prescribe it to natural athletes looking to lose fat without going through the stupidity and pointlessness of regular cardio.

A couch potato's initial "high"-intensity in the first week will be the laughing stock of his/her future self. Your first "high" intensity session will be you lumbering along wheezing and panting. The good news is that our body is an amazing adaptive organism. Your heart rate will be more or less the same even as you get more and more powerful and strong. Thats the beauty of HIIT cardio. As your body adapts to be a more efficient powerful machine, you get more out of your hearts BPM. If your BPM is dropping over the coming weeks, then your intensity (speed) isn't building.

  1. Find a stretch of ground at least 80 meters (yards) or so long
  2. Start with a 5 minute stretch with special focus on calves hams
  3. Warm up with a few jogs back and forth to warm up the muscles
  4. Week 1, start with 'sprinting' 5 80-100 meter lengths
  5. Add another length every week (or every few days) until you get to 10
  6. do your sprint session 2 or 3 times a week

As your body adapts, your 100% will become faster and stronger. Your body will drop fat and you will build muscle in your upper and lower body.

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  • would you recommend HIIT for someone who is concerned more with losing fat weight over something like StrongLifts? – Christopher Bruce Mar 6 '14 at 17:12
  • Yes, if trimming up is your primary goal, then HIIT will definitely suit your purposes more. Doing both would be even better! – Mike S Mar 7 '14 at 0:18

If you are in bad shape then your high intensity will be adequately lower that that of a trained person. Just use a stationary bike your risk of injury is basically zero. If you still have doubts about it then just stay under your perceived limit at the beginning and slowly work up towards it. I would say it's not necessary though. Keep in mind those intervals are usually under a minute and there is recovery. If this had a risk do physical damage to an individual then taking the stairs for 3 floors in a swift manner would do the same. This is actually one way to do HIT.

Dr Michael Mosley has quoted some scientific sources in his book "Fast Exercise" that looked closer at the issue of untrained individuals doing HIT training and they came to the conclusion that there is no additional risk involved. Read his book if you haven't done it yet. It's really good.

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Here is my input on HIIT and the Couch Potato

  • Although I am not well informed about the bizzy diet, I am familiar enough with HIIT to say that it is not for beginners. Anyone who is considering HIIT (high intensity interval training) should be in good health and good condition. HIIT implies an all out, maximal effort.

  • Your body needs to be in good enough physical condition to avoid musculoskeletal and cardiovascular injuries that could be caused by an all out high intensity workout interval. By putting in the ground work first, gradually increasing from walking to running, you condition your muscles, joints, ligaments, heart and lungs.

  • I would not classify someone who lifts weights as a couch potato just because they do not run. Your example of someone who lifts weights should be able to build up to HIIT. Although sprints and cycling are generally thought of with HIIT, running and cycling are not the only way to achieve HIIT. Many types of exercises can follow an interval protocol. Bodyweight circuits and kettlebells swings, are examples of exercises that can achieve good HIIT workouts. So if a person has conditioned their body sufficiently with other forms of exercise, they could incorporate HIIT.

  • The safest way to begin interval training for a couch potato is with LIIT (low intensity interval training) where you increase the intensity level from your base level, but without going all out as implied with HIIT. Walk/jog would be an example.

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  • -1 HIIT cardio is the best way to go because "high intensity" is a phrase relative to the fitness level of the individual. Therefore the basic principle of progressive overload (which undermines every effective training program) is in built from the beginning. – Mike S Mar 6 '14 at 7:00
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    @Mike, thanks. Would you please include some studies on HIIT sedentary individuals? My familiarity with the research on HIIT has been with highly trained athletes or active young adults using protocols like Tabata and Wingate tests. – BackInShapeBuddy Mar 6 '14 at 8:21
  • I don't agree with the -1 vote here. I would also say that HIIT is not for beginners. While what Mike says is true that the intensity is relative to the fitness level of the individual, HIIT is very strenuous and you will still be working your heart at >= 90% MHR which I would say is risky if you are a beginner. Even as an experienced runner, I have had 6 weeks off through injury and have lost some fitness, I would be wary of doing HIIT until I have eased back into running again and got my mileage and fitness level back up – Jimsan Mar 6 '14 at 9:07
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    Also see this, well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/the-4-minute-workout/… In the study, the Norweigan university used sedentary & healthy individuals – FredrikD Mar 6 '14 at 10:49
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    @MikeS, I don't remember saying HIIT is dangerous. It does have some inherent risks. Take sprinting as one example: a couch potato may not have an understanding of basic warm-up/cool down, active vs static stretching, hydration, and/or may not know anything about proper running form. Without previous activity and exercise, muscle weakness is likely. Any and all of the above may predispose a newbie to hamstring pulls or strains, especially with intense or explosive muscle contraction and deceleration required in sprinting. Probably better to continue on chat later. – BackInShapeBuddy Mar 7 '14 at 4:53

Depending on the specific set of exercises, yes!.

It is recommended that they know about it and try it.

What is not recommended is asking them to go at the same intensity as someone who's familiar with it. They should go at the pace their bodies allow.

As they continue on the exercises, they'll get better and stronger.

If you are a couch potato or someone who doesn't do cardio, you've never be able to perform some exercises unless you start at some point. Then, the stronger you become, the better you are.

A huge benefit is the dramatic result they'll begin to experience in the bodies (if they stick with the program for long).

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