Im 22 years old, 170cm, ~90kh weight, starting some efforts to get in shape. Im going to the gym 3 times a week, I changed my diet to low-carb. My main objective is to lower my BF%, but i wouldnt mind gaining some muscle mass and functional strength. Im trying to get to the 10-15 BF% range in a year (currently around 30-35BF%) and get in reasonable shape (strength, endurance etc)

While in the gym, i usually do some lat pulldowns, deadlifts, squats, benchpresses, shoulder presses, cable rows, hamstring curls. Im trying to stay in a 6-10 rep per set range.

Now, Id like to throw in some conditioning to my workout plan, so that I can for example run for a bus or swim a bit without panting or gasping for air. I thought that adding in some swimming and interval sprinting would be the best way to do that.

Still, Im a bit concerned about spoiling my gym workouts and overtraining.

Yesterday i tried some Tabata style training and managed to do 8 sets of 10sec sprint 30sec walk, and it felt good, and I can feel the effects today - my whole legs "know" they got a nice workout. But today is my gym day, and im wondering, if the usual squat/deadlifiting/lunges is a good idea?

When I went to the pool a few days ago, I found swimming pretty exhausting. 16 25m lapses was the best I could do, taking breaks every 3 lapses (or even after every one, depending on if it was breaststroke or backstroke) and i was panting hevaily. Isnt such swimming undermining my gym efforts to buff up my muscle mass and metabolism? Should I tone it down and make it a bit more splish-splashy playing around, just to have some low intensity movement and exercise? Think a walk in the park instead of a jog or dedicated running.

So, to make my questions clear and separate them from background info:

  • Can I put interval sprinting into my workout routine without hindering my weight lifting efforts?
  • If so, should I do it on rest days, or the same days as I go to the gym?
  • How often can I do the sprinting?
  • Can I include swimming into my routine without hindering the rest?
  • How intense should the swimming be?

note: I read the Overtraining my legs doing both cardio and leg workouts question, but it didnt really have all the answers I was looking for

1 Answer 1


The awesome thing about HIIT is that it isn't just a cardio, but it is also a muscle building form of exercise. Allow me to explain. When a person runs on a treadmill for about 30 minutes at a steady pace, they are in essence getting an endurance workout because the fibers that are getting burned are the slow twitch ones responsible for endurance. When a person is working out to get stronger or faster at the something thew will usually try an go after the fast twitch fibers which give you short powerful bursts of energy which is in essence what makes you stronger. Going after the fast twitch fibers is done by doing short explosive movements such as quick intervals on the treadmill, or really heavy squats in the low rep range.

Based on the above information, I would say that it is absolutely ok for you to incorporate some HIIT in to your routine. I would also suggest that you do it on the days that you workout and not on your rest days.

As for how often you should do it, I would say that if you have one day of your three working days that you work on your legs that should be your day to do HIIT. If you work on your legs everyday of your working days like with the 5x5 program, than I would say say that you should make your own informed decision as for how often you should do it. Something to consider before you make that decision, is that doing more work on your legs other than the squats will increase the time it takes for your legs to recover and therefore hinder you from being able to increase 5lbs every time you squat as is suggested buy the 5x5 program (again this is only if that is the program you follow).

As for swimming it would depend again on weather you are doing it as strictly a cardio or in the form of HIIT. If you do it as a cardio it will hinder you from the muscle gaining goal you have set for yourself, but if you do it as an HIIT than again you may actually become more athletic by doing this.

EDIT: I just remembered one more thing you should consider. That is weather you should be doing the HIIT sprints before your workout or after your workout. Again this is a decision you should make for yourself, but to answer this ask yourself the following question. What is more important to you the sprinting or the rest of the workout? The simple fact is that whatever you do first will be easier for you and thus get your fullest efforts.

  • dont you mean "going after the fast twitch fibers by short explosive..."? Anyhow, thanks for the insights! I will take your advice into account. Still, Id happily getsome more opinions/advice, its always good to take knowledge from multiple sources :) If anyone has something more to say, please do!
    – K.L.
    Oct 29, 2012 at 16:05
  • oh that is right will edit that now thanks. Oct 29, 2012 at 16:08

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