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Kelly’s Tuesday Training Tip: High/Low Intensity Days

 Kelly’s Tuesday Training Tip:

I have noticed the highest overall fitness and strength gains by using the high/low intensity training method.

I train using high intensity/low intensity days. This method ensures proper rest and recovery to build new, stronger muscles and has by far worked the best for me for maximum strength and performance gains. I vary my workouts so that one day I have a high intensity day and the next day I have a low intensity workout. A high intensity workout means you work your body to the maximum and push yourself to all out efforts. This might look like sprints, plyometrics, a hard lifting session, or anything that gets your heart really pounding. The duration of high intensity days should be minimum (around 20-30 minutes), but your effort should be all out maximum. Make it count! High intensity days will leave your central nervous system fatigued and your body stressed. Did you know that it takes anywhere from 48-72 hours to recover from a high intensity day? Knowing that, you need to allow your body to recover so it can build stronger muscles. So the next day or two, plan to do low intensity training and focus on things that don’t stress your central nervous system. This ensures that your body can recover, build new muscle, and come back even stronger and more fit than before. If you don’t allow proper time to recover, your performance and fitness levels will actually decrease and you are at risk of becoming sick or very fatigued.

 Now that you know what a high intensity day looks like, here’s what a low intensity training day looks like. A low intensity day should be longer in duration and should not be very difficult. Your heart should not be pounding. Things like going on a long bike ride, hike, or light jog are perfect for low intensity days. Find active things that you like to do and do them on your low intensity days. Your low intensity days could look like a few hours of gardening or a long walk with the dog or just some nice stretching. At the end of a low intensity day, you should feel refreshed and not fatigued.

 Less is more! You should not be going all out, everyday at the gym. This is something that took me years to learn. I am training so much more efficiently now. I’m actually spending less time training than I ever have, but my overall fitness levels and strength have increased by leaps and bounds. This is amazing to me. All those hours of drudgingly pounding on the treadmill and lifting everyday were actually doing me more harm than good. As you can see in my sample workout week below, I don’t have any typical β€œcardio” on there. I was never one who liked to run or do the boring elliptical and could never run more than 2 miles at time. But, I’ve been following the high/low training method for about 2 years and can now run 8-10 miles easily at a good pace, even though I don’t run at all during the week. That just goes to show how much my fitness levels have improved since I’ve been training this way.

My Workout week:

 Monday: Heavy Lifting Routine using kettlebells, dumbells, and my TRX suspension training system (more about the TRX in an upcoming post). I lift to failure, do functional exercises that work multiple muscles of the body at one time, and do them in a circuit style. This usually takes me 30 – 45 minutes.

Tuesday: Yoga for 1 hour.

Wednesday: Pilates and Core Exercises for 30 minutes.

Thursday: Body weight exercises and Sprints: Pushups, Pullups, Burpees, Mountain Climbers, Box Jumps, All Out Sprints, etc. This usually takes me 20 – 30 minutes.

Friday: Off

Saturday: Kickboxing Class for 1 hour.

Sunday: Hiking, Biking or Off

Just like I plan my weekly menus, I also plan my workouts a week in advance so I know for sure that I am allowing enough recovery in between my high intensity days. Having a weekly workout plan also helps me follow it through and helps me know exactly what I am going to do that day.

Keep an eye out for my Tuesday Training Tips and subscribe to my site to make sure you don’t miss a post! I’ll have a new tip every Tuesday and also provide strength and body weight routines that you can do at home.

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    Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! You have done a wonderful job!

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    I enjoy your writing style really loving this internet site.

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    This is how I’ve always done it, too. I work out really hard 2 times a week and the other days, I just do a variety leisurely things like bike rides or long walks. It’s worked for me for the past 15 years.

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    Very good.Thanks

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    This makes a lot of sense to me. I was one that was a “never a day off” kind of person and was at the gym all the time every day pushing to my max. I was always getting sick and run down and really tired. I’m sick right now! lol I think this makes a lot of sense. I’m going to try this and see what happens.

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    GREAT advice. I often find myself getting stuck in the routine of doing as much High Intensity as I can but then I’m so beat by the end of the week and my muscles hate me. Plus, it leads to injury quickly. Thanks!

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    Thanks like your Kelly’s Tuesday Training Tip: High/Low Intensity Days | Primally Inspired

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    This looks like an awesome routine and would offer a lot more variety than what I’ve been getting lately. I’ve generally been lifting weights every day doing a Split routine, i.e. M- upper body; T-lower body; W- Cardio/abs; Th- upper body; F-lower body; Sat – Cardio/abs; Sun- rest. But I’m finding I get bored easily and tired a lot! I love yoga and pilates and like to hike and kayak, but don’t often find the time with this kind of routine, so I’m excited to try this! πŸ™‚ Would this sort of routine be good for someone who doesn’t need to lose any weight but just maintain? I’m looking to actually gain more muscle and tighten things up. I’m pretty petite (5’2 105lbs), but lost a lot of weight so I’m still working on losing some fat and cellulite around the hips and upper thighs.
    I also work out at home and like to incorporate dvds as they keep me more motivated…any good workouts on dvd that you can suggest? Thanks again for these tips! I’ve subscribed, so I’m now looking forward to seeing them weekly! πŸ™‚

    • Primally Inspired

      Hi Amy!

      You sound a lot like me! I am 5’2″ and 105 lbs, too πŸ™‚ I also don’t want to lose weight, but maintain what I have. I love doing full body workouts only once or twice a week so I have time to do other things I really enjoy doing, especially in the summer like kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, etc. I, too get very bored easily! So I think you will enjoy doing the full body routines rather than having to strength train almost every single day. You’ll get all the same benefits in much shorter time (train smarter is my motto πŸ˜‰ )

      If I do videos, I love some of the p90x videos (http://amzn.to/13aPhaY) and also the Les Mills cardio kickboxing videos (http://amzn.to/1ajd0ra). The kickboxing ones are my favorite!!

      Glad to have you following along!

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        OH MY Gosh, Kelly! That’s so wild that we are the same size…especially considering I’ve lost over 90lbs! LOL And I actually used a lot of the Beachbody programs like P90X (as well as following a Primal diet!)to get me there! πŸ˜€ I was just looking into the Les Mills kickboxing program in fact the other day! I LOVE kickboxing! I’m not a fan of cardio at all, but I do love to kick and punch! :p I’m also a big fan of Cathe and her workout programs! She uses a lot of compound exercises in her workouts. If you like P90X you would really love her STS program: http://shop.cathe.com/workout_routines_sts_fitness_training_s/78.htm
        I’m not affliated with BB or Cathe, but as far as “at home” exercise programs go, I think they are some of the best around….and I’ve done them ALL! LOL
        I’m excited to now plan my new routine!!
        What do you think if I did a Total Body program (like STS or P90X)focusing on compound moves and moderate to heavy weights on Monday and then Thursday do another Total Body workout, but in a more interval style utilizing lighter weights, resistance bands, and/or body weight (i.e. a few minutes of toning mixed with a few minutes of bursts of cardio)?

        Thank you so much for your reply and your advice! I only wish I had it years ago! I’m now almost 50 but in better shape than I was in my 20’s and 30’s! πŸ™‚

        Thanks again for your inspiring blog! πŸ™‚ I think I’ll head to the mountains or the lake this weekend! Whoo-Hoo! πŸ˜€


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    Could I please ask where you bought your kettlebells? After a long time of searching I finally found one 20 pound one that wouldn’t burn my wallet (shipping and handling is cruel…) but the handles are really thick and hard for me to hold while lifting, etc. and it is so fat that when I do exercises like lunge deadlifts the kettlebell hits the ground before I even feel my muscles exerting. Thanks!

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