Some fitness organizations may look like they are making up their program as they go. Most facilities actually have a protocol and a philosophy. Here are a few of the best and most common fitness protocols:
TT – Traditional (Resistance) Training
Not to be confused with another TT training called Threshold Training, Traditional Training as a training protocol is resistance training for isolated muscle development and is often done with alternating days of jogging and running. It requires heavy lifting of 8 – 12 repetitions in sets of 1 – 3. If done correctly a person can get some very good definition. In order to work enough muscles for serious results it requires 2 – 4 hours a day in the gym. It is best suited for body builders. For people who choose this protocol it is important to be well trained by a professional to reduce the chance of injury due to poor form or adding weight too quickly. It is also important to recognize that TT isolates individual muscles instead of synergistic muscle groups so those large muscles don’t always translate into real strength and the number of muscles targeted is limited to the ones that show. I actually loved this protocol at one time and wish I had competed in at least one body building competition. It isn’t efficient or practical for everyday fitness.
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT training is short bursts of very high cardio with shorter periods of rest. For example: 5 min warm up followed by one minute bursts of running and 30 second rests for no longer than 20 minutes. The down side of HIIT is that it uses only a few muscles repetitively so most muscles are left untrained and undeveloped. The benefits of HIIT training over TT or longer steady bouts of slower cardio is increased weight loss, better endurance and less time commitment. Long, steady cardio like 45 -60 minutes of steady walking or jogging, if done often, can actually reduce metabolism and cause weight gain.
Cross Fit is owned by Greg Glassman with individual affiliates across the country. It uses power lifting, Olympic lifting, calisthenics, HIIT, plyometrics, TT and is considered to be an extreme sport. Because CrossFit incorporates power lifting it is not ideal for people with injuries, older people or people that are less fit. Glassman explained it this way, “If you find the notion of falling off the rings and breaking your neck so foreign to you, then we don’t want you in our ranks.” CrossFit operators typically have a two day training so their expertise varies. The advantages of Crossfit are increased strength and a short time investment.
HIRT – High-Intensity Interval Resistance Training
Also known as HIIRT training, High-Intensity Interval Resistance Training has recently gained a lot of attention and respect in the fitness world. The evidence of its effectiveness for all fitness levels is overwhelming. This protocol, as it has developed, combines HIIT and some TT training. Like HIIT it uses intervals but using as many multi muscle groups as possible at the same time to raise the heart rate. The goal is to get all the benefits of HIIT but gain muscle at the same time. Examples of exercises used in HIIRT would be a lunge with a bicep curl using a light weight and doing as many reps as possible in 50 seconds with a 10 second rest. This instead of simple standing bicep curls. Other examples are jumping squats (bounds) or lunges using only body weight doing as many reps as possible in 20- 50 seconds. HIIRT has all of the weight loss advantages of HIIT but also develops hundreds of muscles, those that show, and those that don’t.