No rest-day train­ing

There’s chat­ter among the fit crowd about 10 days of HIIT with no rest be­ing the best tone-up trick. Lau­ren Clark asks if it’s worth it

Women's Health Australia - - CONTENTS -

Could you do 10 days of HIIT in a row? It might be the tone-up trick of the year

When the re­al­i­sa­tion hits that your Hawaii trip is just around the cor­ner and your gym rou­tine has been spo­radic at best, any­thing that prom­ises to get you in shape in a mere 10 days is akin to fit­ness nir­vana. Over to the lat­est too-goodto-be-true fast-re­sults work­out trend, which cen­tres on do­ing high-in­ten­sity ses­sions ev­ery day for more than a week. With no rest days! Boot camps are all over it, with a-class-a-day Hell Weeks and In­sta­gram is awash with 10-, 15- and 30-day fit­ness chal­lenges. And so I ig­nored my quite ra­tio­nal fears and signed up to take one on. All in the name of science, and that bikini, obvs. On day one of my gym’s 10-day pack­age, I ar­rived at a lo­cal 45-minute re­shape class: an in­tense mix of body­weight ex­er­cises, sprint in­ter­vals and weights. Nine more days of sweat ses­sions af­ter this? Yep – daunted.

So what’s the deal? “Train­ing ev­ery day for just over a week will lead to im­prove­ments in body fat per­cent­age, mus­cle tone and car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness,” says trainer Danny Gates. “But only a mix of HIIT and weights will work. Steadys­tate car­dio won’t trig­ger the same re­sults.” Vary your work­outs though if you want to see gains. “Your body adapts quickly,” says Gates. “You need to be con­stantly sur­pris­ing your mus­cles by mix­ing up the lengths of sprints and the num­ber and in­ten­sity of reps.”

Cut to the mid­way point of my 10-day tor­ture trial and

I’m strug­gling. My mus­cles feel drained and I’m al­ready dread­ing each work­out. “That’s the prob­lem with work­ing out ev­ery day,” says sports sci­en­tist and for­mer Olympian Pro­fes­sor Greg Whyte. “It’s not sus­tain­able. While it’s un­likely you’ll over­train in such a short space of time, with­out rest days you’ll get fa­tigued. The qual­ity of your train­ing drops in terms of form and in­ten­sity.”

But can ex­er­cise alone, with no change in diet, make you lean? “Most peo­ple won’t burn enough [kilo­joules], even in an in­tense ex­er­cise ses­sion, to ini­ti­ate weight loss,” says car­di­ol­o­gist Dr Aseem Mal­ho­tra.

My fi­nal ses­sion even­tu­ally ar­rives and I’m elated but ex­hausted. I am leaner, though – par­tic­u­larly my thighs – and my abs are more de­fined. I dropped 4.9kg in body fat. That said, a week later, the thought of hit­ting the gym fills me with dread. Go­ing hard for a big event is doable, but for the long term, I’ll have those rest days – if only for my san­ity.

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