Intensity Build Up Running (IBUR)

When it comes to fat loss, it is no secret that I am a big fan of HIIT. I want the biggest effect, crammed into the least amount of time. Doing an hour worth of cardio on a treadmill, crosstrainer, or anything similar is way too boring for me. It may yield some good results – but yeah I am just not a big fan.

I have shared some of my preferred HIIT protocols before, like the frontsquat tabata the awesome Litvinov workout and my way to use the crosstrainer. But this time I will share one of my go-to, running protocols.

I can’t in any way take the credit for this protocol, and I am not sure whether this guy came up with the idea, or got it from someone else. But I got it from a guy named Christian Thibaudeau, that wrote an article for T-Nation, called running man. In this article he gives a number of different ways to implement HIIT runs; one of them being IBUR.

I think the reason why I fell for it in the first place was its ease of implementation. You do not need a 400 meter track, or measuring x amount of meters for your sprints. With a interval app for your smartphone, you can enter the intervals and then you are good to go. I personally use one for my iphone, called Gymboss – to my knowledge it is free. Furthermore they are not short 60-100 meter, all out sprints. Which indeed are extremely good, but along with them comes a greater risk of injury. Sure you can still get injured from these longer intervals of IBUR, but you are not doing all out accelerations from a standstill. If you keep yourself from being an idiot and listen to your body, you should be good.

The intervals are as follows:

Jog

30 sec

Sprint

20 sec

Jog

60 sec

Sprint

30 sec

Jog

90 sec

Sprint

40 sec

Jog

120 sec

Sprint

50 sec

Jog

150 sec

Sprint

60 sec

Jog

180 sec

Sprint

70 sec

As you can see the sprints increase with 10 sec in length for each interval and the jog increases by 30 sec. This gives a total of about 15 min running, and trust me; you will know how to take deep breaths once you’re done.

I have entered a 1 minute countdown before these intervals, in my Gymboss app, so I have a total of 90 sec jog, before the first sprint. Then going for the first sprint, I won’t go all out, but perhaps 70%. This is all done in order to get my body into the right temperature, since I do not do warm-up before. When I do this, I can go all out by the second or third sprint, but everytime I listen to my body and start of conservatively. Violent accelerations can pull a hamstring, and I am no olympic sprinter, I do this for fat loss and conditioning. But a conservative start does not mean that you should not go all out! HIIT is meant to be all out and you should push yourself as hard as possible.

Conquer the battle with your mind. If it tells you to stop – just keep going a bit longer – this is how you build character and willpower.

Have fun!

Best HIIT workout?

So what is the best HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout? Is there a thing as the universal best – of course not. ‘Best’ will always be in the context of the person and his or her individual goals. But even with this in mind, I will still give you what in my opinion could be one of the top contenders for a universal best HIIT workout.

In order to qualify for a top contender it needs to consist of one or more movements that you can give your absolute everything and drain but muscles and lungs. Therefore tabata (20 sec work 10 sec rest – 8 rounds) push ups does not qualify – yes you would be able to push yourself to muscle failure in triceps, pecs and shoulders, but you would not activating big enough muscles, to have your lungs fighting for air.

The whole thought behind HIIT is ‘bang for the buck’; do very high intensity for a very short amount of time and reap great benefits. I will not go into detail about all the benefits of HIIT, why it works etc. But when it comes to losing body fat, HIIT has always been my preferred choice.

One of my very first blog posts was actually about one of the HIIT workouts I use The Litvinov workout. This is a highly efficient protocol, that leaves you absolutely hammered afterwards. It is right up there with the most intense of its kind, but it is not my choice as the best, although it is part of my personal favorites.
Another one of the HIIT workouts, I have described in an earlier blog post, is the Tabata front squats. This is just pure mean! And it fits incredibly well with the Tabata protocol – if you do it right, you will not be doing anything at all after having done those.

But why are none of these my bet for best HIIT workout. They are among the most efficient; meaning that they are some of the HIIT protocols, where you get the absolute most bang for your buck, along with all out 200 or 400 meter sprints they really do deliver. Their “net-effect” on the body and fat loss may even be greater, than my overall choice for the best. But what they also introduce though, is a greater risk of injury. If you are not used to sprinting and go directly for all out 200/400 meters or hill sprints you will probably soon know how a pulled hamstring feels. With proper warm-up and thought, they are however; amazing. You work both your stamina, your conditioning and your agility – that’s fitness 101!

The frontsquat Tabata introduces the risk of injury if you break the proper form. Which would not be all that uncommon, given the nature of the Tabata protocol. Intense burning from your legs, combined with your lungs fighting for a grasp of air, might take your thoughts away from focusing 100% on proper technique. I would never suggest that you should avoid them – they are too great for that; but be aware of the risks involved.

Now my overall best HIIT workout then; needs to be something where you can give yourself a 100%, not be limited by local fatigue, as in the push up example earlier, and that does not introduce a high risk of injury, even though you are pushing yourself to and beyond the limit. What I have found to do this best, is actually something as far away from gymnastics, bodyweight exercises and bodybuilding as the cross trainer. But beware, some of these are built by engineers, that never saw a human move! However, if you are in the lucky situation and find yourself a proper engineered version, they can provide a totally brutal finisher.

I am a big fan of the Tabata protocol, and doing it on one of these cross trainers, actually gives you the ability to, rather safely, push yourself all the way to the limit. Set the resistance high enough for you to not propel yourself out of the machine, but low enough to keep a high pace that will have you fighting for air in every of the 10 second rest periods. Of course it is still possible to hurt yourself on one of these, but compared to other workouts where you can push yourself to the same degree, these machines are rather safe. I usually use these if I am in a period where I can not risk injury, or just starting to reintroduce HIIT into my workouts.

Try it at the end of your normal workout, one or two times a week. Start with 4-5 minutes of warm-up if you are a 100% sure that your body is warm from the preceding workout. Go full nuts on the tabata intervals and spend another 4-5 minutes cooling down on the machine afterwards. If you have done it correctly, just spinning the cross trainer at low speed during cool down, will feel like a challenge!

The Front Squat Tabata

I have signed myself up to compete in the Danish Crossfit Open, which is being held on the 23 of this month. Therefore I have not been super active writing blog-posts, as work and training has claimed almost all of my time. But I am still getting lots of ideas, as to what I could write about, both thoughts, tips and advices. So this lapse in updates, is in no way a sign of me signing off.

Today I will give a few tips on one of the best HIIT exercises available. My guess is that most people have heard of Tabata in one way or the other. If not I will give a very short summary.

The basics

The Tabata protocol is a product of Professor Izumi Tabata’s research. He put some Olympic Speedskaters on a training protocol consisting of something as simple as 4 minutes workout(3min 50sec) 4 times a week, and as wikipedia explains it:

 …obtained gains similar to a group of athletes who did steady state (70% VO2max) training 5 times per week. The steady state group had a higher VO2max at the end (from 52 to 57 ml/kg/min), but the Tabata group had started lower and gained more overall (from 48 to 55 ml/kg/min). Also, only the Tabata group had gained anaerobic capacity benefits.

The 4 minute workout consists of 8×20 sec. absolutely all-out work intervals, and 8×10 sec. rest. So 20 sec. work 10 sec. rest for 8 rounds and a total of 4 minutes.

How to implement

The key to unlocking the full potential of this protocol, is selecting either one or a selection of exercises that enable you to go absolutely all-out. I have seen lots of really stupid Tabata workouts, where people use it with exercises that does not activate enough muscles, or are to technical to reap the full benefits. You should NOT be able to do anything once you are finished. If you can do two Tabata’s in a row, then the first just was not hard enough.

The Front Squat Tabata

One of the best ways to implement the Tabata protocol is doing frontsquats. I have done them freestanding with some success, but actually this is a exercise, where you can get good results, from using the hated smith machine. Doing them in the smith, enables you to rack and unrack much quicker and not worry about balance or anything else.

Before starting I would recommend that you test a few times, to find the optimal stance for your feet. You will most likely feel like you lean a bit backwards, when fully extended at the top, but this makes the bottom position much better. Experiment, and once you have found the optimal stance, then make some marks on the floor, in order for you to quickly reposition your feet if you, during the sets, have to move them to catch your breath and relieve some uncomfort – which I suspect will be needed.

How much weight you should put on of course totally depends on your strength. I would aim for something that gives around 15-17 reps, on the first 20 sec round.

Then this is basicly it. I would recommend using a timer-app of some kind, that beeps for every rest- and work-set. But of course it is possible to do this, by only looking at a watch.

I will later share a few other good ways to implement the Tabata protocol, but this is by my opinion the absolute best.

Have fun – atleast afterwards, they are no fun doing – but they will give you a cardiovascular hit like no other. Implement them on a regular basis and be prepared to see the fat peel of and your overall fitness level skyrocket.

The Litvinov workout – laymen edition

Litvinov Workout
Best HIIT Litvinov Workout

Some of you may already be familiar with the Litvinov Workout. To my knowledge it was made popular by strength coach Dan John. If you somehow have not read any of his articles, then please do yourself the favor and do so. I will focus this post on the Litvinov Workout, but i can highly recommend any of his articles and definately his book Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning (Affiliate link). His philosofy on training very much fits mine, which is keep it simple. Not in any way confusing simple with easy. You can get very, very good results with simple workouts and minimal time, but one thing you cannot, is get very good results without effort. You have to put yourself into it if you really want it – but hey, that is pretty much how you accomplish great things in any aspect of life.

My goal with training, was for the first maybe 6-8 years, purely based on gaining muscle. I had always, propably like many other young boys, been so fascinated by the very fit hollywood stars of the 90’s (Arnold, Stallone, Dolph Lundgren etc.). I always said to myself that I wanted to look like one of them one day – this definately set me of on this amazing journey lifting weights has been to me. I will dispense most of my learnings along the way on this blog, but for now only a short introduction to what has been the cornerstone of my training philosofy almost from the first day.

Even though my motivation primarily came from asthetics, I could never convince myself to do pure mass-oriented training. The strength had to rise along the way, or as others may put it; form had to follow function. This reflected itself in compound movements, 5×5 rep-schemes and other pretty basic stuff. I confess, I to, along the way, has tried some pretty crazy and stupid things, but heavy basic lifting has always been part of my workouts. I always was a firm believer of full effort for short periods of time instead of long drueling workouts.

This rather long and propably semi-boring introduction finally leads me to the topic of this post; The Litvinov Workout. As descibed in the beginning, I was introduced to this workout be reading Never Let Go by Dan John. Whenever I do cardio I almost always end up doing some sort of HIIT, and in the years I have built up quite a repository of proven HIIT-methods that I use for getting into shape. The others may come as later blog-posts, but for now we focus on one.

Given my predisposed love for HIIT, I was pretty much drawn to the nature of The Litvinov Workout. It fit al my demands head on. High intensity, simple, fast and brutally hard. This workout in its original form, is so basic that you can describe it in one sentence:

Eight reps of front squats with 405 pounds, immediately followed by a 75-second 400-meter run – repeat 3 times and go home!

Simple – oh yes! But then again, who outside of track & field has an outdoor squat rack sitting next to a 400 meter track? I sure as hell did not. This may keep me from doing the original form of the exercise, but I got the “WHY” that is behind this exercise and that would enable me to build my own little hybrid.

First of I needed something that I could bring along and use as weight for the front squat. The obvious substitute for this would be to use one or more kettlebells, but since I did not even own some of those, I had to be even more creative. My hunt for something heavy and unhandleable had begun. The most heavy things I had laying around, that were transportable size-wise, seemed to be sandbags for sandblasting. These weigh around 45 pounds a piece and with big thanks to Eastpack, two of those were able to fit inside a backpack. Now I had myself a very unhandy 90 pound weight to frontsquat with. Not in any way 405 pounds, but this would suffice.

To make it up for the lack of weight I set out to find a hill instead of a flat track. As the picture at the top of this post shows I found my hill. 300 meters that progressively got steeper – this was a perfect fit!

The modified Litvinov would act as a “finisher” at the end of my normal weight session. I would start of with a light warm-up by running a few times up and down the hill, and some dynamic stretching. The workout would then start by lifting the backpack up in front of my chest and hugging it like a teddy bear. A teddy bear in this case, that would cause you pain like you could only imagine Chucky, would be able to. Since my Eastpack “teddy” only weigh 90 pound I decided to go somewhere between 15 to 20 reps before dropping the evil bear, turning around and sprinting uphill. The first couple of steps would strongly resemble trying to run under heavy influence of alcohol. You try to exert maximal effort, but the intention does not seem to get all the way down to your legs. They at best skid a bit like Bambi until around 50 meters out, then the trembling and pain is substituted with nothing but… pain. Your breath seems like it left itself along side the heavy bear behind you, and the lactic acid burns like hell in your muscles. This should all signal you to do only one thing – keep running!

When you reach the end of the predefined lenght you had planned to run – which I guarantee, you will NOT exceed – then all you have to do is turn around, walk back and do it all over again. Some might ask how long you have to wait before going second time. This is easy, when you reach your beloved “teddy bear” you just pick it back up – the walk back will define your rest.

To sum up The Litvinov workout – laymen edition it is as follows:

Grab, lift and hug something heavy – front squat 10-20 reps – run like Bambi on crack for 2-400 meters – repeat 3 times – then crawl back home, again that would be like Bambi.

If you really want bang for the buck cardio-wise, this is right up there with the best. If you for some reason proves my “which I guarantee you wil NOT exceed” – statement wrong, please let me know.

Have fun!