HIIT FITNESS CHALLENGES - CHEAT SHEET. //
- How to stay on track during your fitness challenge.
You’ve stepped up, committed to a HIIT challenge and are ready to get your sweat on. High intensity interval training sessions are designed to force your body to maximum exertion and push past mental barriers that you’ve never faced before. A method that is used for increased fat burn, to allow time efficient training and prevent boredom through a variety of session types.
However, when taking on challenges involving a high amount of HIIT sessions, it’s important to consider how you’re going to tackle the journey ahead to get the best results whilst also preventing injury.
If you’ve been brave enough to step up and take on a challenge of an immersive mix of cardio and strength training, we salute you. If you’re halfway through the struggle, keep hustling. If you’re yet to exceed your own expectations and take on one of the hardest fitness challenges yet, stop doubting yourself.
Whatever stage you’re at, we’ve got your back and 3 of our top 1R trainers have identified some key pointers to help you beast out those sessions day by day and finish like a hero...
FUEL THE RIGHT WAY
ft. Danny Gates
First thing’s first. LISTEN to your body. When you need to eat, go eat. If you have enough energy, don’t force the food down. There’s no one-rule-fits-all here due to different training times and body types. However, what you decide to consume is vital in the process that allows you to perform to the best of your ability during every session, whilst also attaining maximum results during the 10 days.
RULE 1. YOU'RE NOT GOING TO SHRED FAT BY NOT EATING
If you calorie restrict too much, all that lean muscle you are working so hard to achieve will just go to waste. Make sure that you’re consuming enough to meet your energy needs.
RULE 2: HYDRATE LIKE A MOTHF*CKER
Aim to drink between 2-3 litres of water a day. Carry your reusable bottle with you everywhere. Stay off the fizzy drinks - these will give you an unnecessary short-term sugar high and are chemical-ridden. If you want to get boozy on a Friday, no judgements here. Just remember that training on a hangover is never fun.
RULE 3: PLAN YOUR MEALS
If you’re already on that meal-prep hype, you’re one step ahead. If not, no pressure. There’s plenty of healthy lunch options around the city that will provide good carbs (grains, legumes), healthy fats (avocado, nuts, salmon) and high protein options. But try and PLAN what you’re going to consume that week or the day before so you keep accountable. Apps like MyFitnessPal are helpful to keep you on track.
RULE 4. FOR THE EARLY BIRDS, TRAIN FASTED
If you're training in the morning training fasted is my recommendation and what I’ve found works best for me to shred fat. If you need a pre-workout kick, grab a coffee (black or an espresso). When training fasted you are adapting your body to use fat for fuel instead of burning off what you have just consumed. However, if you’re lacking energy and need that little extra, a banana or pre-workout shake might be a good option for you.
Here are my suggestions on what foods to consume during the day:
Breakfast: Healthy fats + protein
Getting the healthy fats in during the morning will keep you fuller for longer, whilst allowing the protein to replenish those muscles.
Go for combos featuring eggs, avocado, smoked salmon, quinoa, spinach.
Lunch: Protein, healthy fats & wholegrain carbs.
Stocking up on the carbs at midday will keep energy levels high and help to refuel your body if you train in the morning or lunchtime and give you the necessary fuel if you choose to train in the evenings. Carb options include brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa, butternut squash.
Dinner: High protein & vegetables.
Opt for lean meat such as chicken, turkey or fish and a plate full of fibrous vegetables. Don’t go to bed hungry or you’re just making that morning session harder on yourself.
Snacks: Don’t be scared to graze throughout the day. If you restrict yourself when the hunger pangs kick in, you’ll be reaching for high-sugar snacks which aren’t going to help you shred that fat. Put down the Haribo and aim for nut mixes, apple with peanut butter, carrot and hummus.
Focus on making healthier choices to help assist your training needs. If you fall off the wagon one day, so what? Get back on it. And after the 10 days are done you HAVE that cheat meal, you deserve it.
Completing a gruelling HIIT challenge takes serious commitment and willpower. Dragging yourself out of bed in the early hours of the morning, or hitting up a session after a long days work is hard for us all. But you’ve got this. The key is to stay accountable for your actions. The rest is easy.
Here are a few of my top tips to keep yourself accountable during those 10 days:
1. FIND A TRAINING PARTNER
You’re less likely to flake out on a session if you’ve committed to it with a friend. You can keep each other on track and motivate each other to reach your goal. When you’re lacking that willpower, your partner is there to keep pushing you, and vice versa. Create a Whatsapp group and keep each other in check (motivational memes help…)
2. TRACK SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Find something that you can monitor and try to improve on each session. Whether that is maintaining a set speed for all your sprints, using the same weight throughout your session or using a fitness wearable to track your workouts. Seeing your hard work in calories burned can give you that extra needed bit of motivation to get you over that 9 session line.
3. BREAK DOWN YOUR GOAL
Back-to-back sessions can be a daunting prospect, so unless you like to plan in advance, why not break it down in individual blocks? Take it day by day and build on the last to decrease the chance of overwhelming yourself. Just like you don’t get fat from eating one ‘cheat meal,’ you don’t get fit from one workout. It is an accumulation of several decisions. Make lots of small good decisions and you'll be on your journey to making positive long-term change.
4. SHARE YOUR GOALS ON SOCIAL
Whether you have a hundred followers or thousands, sharing your workout on social media will help you stick to your plan and keep you accountable. (because once it’s on ‘the gram’ it’s gospel, right..?) Your followers and friends might wish you luck or send you motivational messages - that extra push you might need.
NEVER FEAR, REST DAY IS HERE
ft. Robyn Marsh
Do not underestimate the important of resting. The key here is to plan your rest day for when suits YOU. Listen to your body and take the day off when you need that recovery most to allow yourself to be even more efficient during the rest of the challenge.
Here’s how it works.
During your workout your body tissues are broken down, and in order to rebuild and grow our muscles, they need to rest to allow this process to happen. Essentially, those sofa days are an important part of your programme and the vital rest that your body and your mind need. This rest day will usually be the time that those dreaded jelly legs kick in and your body feels tighter than ever before. Enter DOMS. Here’s how to make the most of your day off and CHILL.
1.FOAM ROLL LIKE CRAZY
Ideally you should aim to do this for 10 minutes every day. But on your rest day be sure to spend some extra time getting into all the tension spots (tennis or hockey balls are also ideal for this). Here are my three foam rolling exercises:
Quads - lay chest down on the floor and place the roller underneath your knee, roll from the knee up along the front of your leg to your hip. When you find a trigger point, bring your heel to your butt and back four times. Keep going until you get all of those knots out.
Pectorals - Chest still down to the floor, place the roller underneath your armpit and roll from just above the nipple back to the armpit, when you find those trigger points swoop your arm at floor level from above your head to the hip four times then move to the next point.
Lats - Lay on your back and place the roller on an angle underneath one side of your middle to upper back. Gently apply pressure onto the roller and roll up and down until you find a trigger point - swooping your arm as before, along the floor from hip to above the head four times for each trigger point
2. RELAX YOUR MIND
9 consecutive sessions is just as much of a mental battle as it is physical, so take time to clear your mind and reset. Download a yoga app or meditation app (Headspace is great) and just allow yourself to switch off. Getting zen will help you get in that right mindset to tackle the rest of your sessions.
3. REFUEL + REHYDRATE PROPERLY
Just because you’re not training on your rest day doesn’t mean you should stop eating. Carb up. Keep your meals consistent throughout the whole challenge to ensure that your body doesn’t go into shock mode. Your body will be using a lot more energy than usual so be sure to keep check of your immune system and keep your vitamin and water intake high.