Many of you may know that I was working on a dream, a project of whether a person can become an Olympic decathlete in under 4 years, as a result my training regime for over 18 months has been intense but this produced my strongest and fastest winter training to date. However the higher performance an athlete produces there is always a risk that they are balanced perilously close to injury. Unfortunately I did not maintain that balance and tore my Achilles at the point of insertion into the heel, that’s not good. After 7 weeks I had attended 4 scans and treatments from the elite physiotherapists at Loughborough University. Progress was slower than hoped for but rehab was increasing and as a result I made the decision to try and return to as near full training as possible to keep my dream alive and not give in to my injury. Just two days later I decided I felt good and pushed training a lot further than I had recently, I tweaked something, yet again worry set in and I believe I had maybe caused a little damaged.
Decathlon is a combination of 10 disciplines and 3 physiological conditions, speed power, weight management and endurance training. I now couldn’t train for many of these aspects. I can focus on just a few but with the limitations of injury my weight increased and now even rowing or bike felt like it placed took much tension on my Achilles – at least for now.
Therefore I have decided to use this restriction as an opportunity to investigate, to experiment on how to improve body composition using different strategies – opposing methods you may even say.
I spent the best part of 7 years training, coaching athletes and clients with the approach of high intensity interval training as an optimal form of body fat loss over weight loss. I even included this in the seminar’s I delivered as part of an NVQ I wrote in training and nutrition. I must say this worked brilliantly as an athlete who maintained 8 – 10% body fat for almost 3 years non-stop. However my weight has hovered between 98kg and 95kg and 15-16% body fat for the last 9 months so this week I began my experiment to back up the following theory that I have had for many years.
“High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) is the optimal form for body fat reduction, although some individuals may respond to traditional steady state cardiovascular exercise or even different levels of conditioning may respond to one training stimulus before moving onto another. Therefore does my body respond to steady state exercise when at ‘higher’ levels of body fat?”
On Monday 19th May 2014 I weighed in at 97.5kg with a lean muscle mass of 40.9% and a body fat percentage of 16. Today, Friday 23rd May 2014 I registered 95.1kg, 41.1% lean muscle mass and 15.4% body fat.
What have I been doing?
For the exception of the very limited trackside training I’ve been doing such as 45 minutes of standing javelin throwing once a week my training has been similar to traditional hypertrophy and bodybuilding preparation.
Resistance training has incorporated circuit style, minimal rest periods and also supersetted sessions with 90-second rest periods, the latter being used in the majority of sessions. My training sessions have been split body, Chest supersetted with triceps, Back supersetted with biceps, legs individually and shoulders with abs usually using four exercises, spread over four sets. These sessions last roughly 45 minutes to an hour and fall inline with current research that optimum hormone production is at this point and any longer causes peaks in cortisol levels and reduced effort production.
In addition to this I have approximately 4 – 5 sessions a week of long steady state cardiovascular exercise that last 45 minutes. For 3 - 4 of these sessions the 45 minutes is interspersed with high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) so I effectively have 15 minutes steady, 20 minutes H.I.I.T and then 10 minutes steady to finish, although on an occasion my competitive nature meant I did push a session or two to 25 + minutes of H.I.I.T. This combines both traditional steady state exercise and the modern method of high intensity interval training exercise that I have previously preached with passion.
It is this form of cardiovascular training, that I believe actually forms the difference between my previous training exploits and my new training programme for achieving real weight loss.
Until next time train hard and focus on your goals!
Arj Thiruchelvam BSc