Episode #208: How High Intensity Interval Training Can Fix All Your Problems And Turn You Into An Unstoppable, Superhuman Rockstar

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Sep 12, 2012 free podcast: How High Intensity Interval Training Can Fix All Your Problems And Turn You Into An Unstoppable, Superhuman, Rockstar. Also: why you get diarrhea, tennis specific training, how eliminating grains effects your energy level, returning from a partial rotator cuff tear, reasons for exercise induced migraines, low-weight high-rep vs. high-weight low-rep, what is “block training”, how and why to widen your “Q-Factor”, and combating fatigue during your period.

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As compiled and read by Brock, the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast “sidekick”.

Audio Question from AJ:
He is a competitive cyclist and mountain bike racer. His weakness is his gut. Doesn't do well on solid foods and has switched to liquid calories. Has trouble with diarrhea especially when he is travelling. Has diarrhea a few times a week. Looking for causes and solutions.

~ In my response to AJ, I mention the Genova Parasitology test. I also mention the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and the free Specific Carbohydrate Diet e-book.

Audio Question from Carlos:
Question about HIIT. Most programs says you should go high for 30 and low for 30 seconds. Would it better to use a Heart Rate Monitor and go hard/fast until I hit 180 bpm and then go slow until I hit 140bpm?

~ In my response to Carlos, I mention the complete guide to interval training article.

Audio Question from Chris:
In the past Ben has mentioned playing tennis. He is curious – what are the exercises and training routines that you have found to help with knee health and joint health when it comes to tennis? What training tips would you have?

~ In my response to Chris, I mention Capraflex.

Audio Question from Jennifer:
She has dropped grains out of her diet (except for quinoa). Does plenty of exercise and eats a lot of fruits and vegetables. She's found that she is really tired since changing her diet. What can she add to her diet to add energy but maintain the comfortable weight that she is at.

~ In my response, I mention lab testing with WellnessFX.

Audio Question from Mike:
Has a problem with his left shoulder. He's working out 3-5 times a week, doing intervals and weights. Lifting moderately heavy. Had a partial rotator cuff tear a few years ago. Rested it for 3 weeks and it healed up. Now every day that he lifts he gets pain the next day. What can he do to help with that?

~ In my response, I recommend this free report on Muscle Imbalances Revealed. I also mention the 7 minute Rotator Cuff Solution.

Erin asks:
Going for a run of 20 minutes or more often causes me to develop an aura migraine. Initially I get the bright spots in my eyes and if I continue running it will progress into the full-blown migraine. It only ever happens when I run in the morning and is made substantially worse when the weather is hot. Interestingly, I do a lot of other indoor sports and this doesn't happen during those training sessions, regardless of intensity. Can you suggest why this might be happening and what I can do to avoid it?

~ In my response to Erin, I reference my How to Get Rid of Migraine Headaches podcast with Ted Morter.

Longbow asks:
You mentioned in one of the earlier podcasts that recent research showed lifting lighter weights with more reps has the same result as the heavier weight with fewer reps. If the benefit is the same and the goal is “lift to failure”, wouldn't it be better to lift lighter weights so the chance of getting injured is smaller?

~ In my response to Longbow, I mention this podcast that I did with Art De Vany. Also this podcast with Cary Nosler.

Craig asks:
I've heard a couple of things about “block training” (emphasizing one triathlon discipline at a time). What is your opinion on this?

Dan asks:
I was wondering what you thought about pedal spacers to widen the “Q-Factor”. Is there a way to figure out what is the right pedal width for your body (besides getting a custom-fit)? Does hip-width have some correlation to foot-width?

Jill asks:
My monthly cycle can bring on some extreme fatigue with me unable to wake up to an alarm to exercise. It can be extremely frustrating and cuts down on the time I have to put in long sessions on the bike. As my exercise time drops off during this week every month, I feel I lose fitness and it seems to take a week or two to get back into a good groove, and then it happens again! Do you have any suggestions of herbs, supplements, etc that I could use to combat this fatigue? Is going on birth control pills the best option?

~ In my response to Jill, I mention Katylynn Wlesch's 21K Trail Run. I also mention my recommendations for estrogen dominance.

Prior to asking your question, do a search in upper right hand corner of this website for the keywords associated with your question. Many of the questions we receive have already been answered here at Ben Greenfield Fitness!

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26 thoughts on “Episode #208: How High Intensity Interval Training Can Fix All Your Problems And Turn You Into An Unstoppable, Superhuman Rockstar

  1. Any kind of exercise is going to be good for our health.

  2. Chris says:

    Hey Ben! I really need to understand something, I’ve had some jacked dudes tell me I’m not doing my “high intensity” properly and, now I’m confused… These guys are telling me that I need to by lifting FAST, and Heavy! But I’m only lifting heavy… not fast, well sometimes I’ll do a little exploding if I can. So I’m trying to understand the way that “Speed” & “Weight” work together to do proper high intensity weight training. Hope this makes sense, thanks a ton for everything im addicted to your podcasts!

    1. Speed is definitely a factor in HIIT. I would start with my book Beyond Training: https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/product/beyo…

  3. Heidi says:

    Great podcast. Until last year, I was a marathon and ultra runner, but I've been trying to cut way down on any sort of long distance aerobic exercise in order to improve hormone issues. (Leptin, estrogen, and LH) You mentioned that short interval sessions and short weight sessions are easier on the cortisol, hormones, women's cycle, etc…..What about a sport like tennis? Could a tennis match of 1.5 hours produce the same harmful impact as a distance run does, or is it be any easier on the body? (Want to be sure I'm not just replacing the running with something equally taxing for my body) Thanks! Enjoying all the information in the podcasts!

    1. Depends on how hard the match is, Heidi! As an ex-extremely competitive tennis player, I know that i've been wrecked after some matches, and fine after others. That's simply a case of listening to your body. If it "feels" like you just got done with a hard run, then that's probably the case. If it feels more like you've played a round of golf, probably not…

  4. Carlos says:

    Thanks for answering my question Ben. It is unfortunate there have been no HIIT studies focusing on BPM-targeted intervals vs just time.

    Take it easy,

    1. Yes, and although I didn't mention this during the podcast, one thing here is that BPM varies so much from person to person that it can be tough to develop a "general" protocol for this…

  5. jess says:

    Honestly Ben…ease up on the "In terms of"…it's getting really annoying. You're a smart guy, find another phrase and mix it up a bit.

    1. I didn't even realize I was saying that phrase Jess! How many times did I use it? Now I'm going to be paranoid. ;)

    2. Mike says:

      Thanks a lot Jess…I had never noticed Ben using this phrase, but now I will! ;)

  6. Megan says:

    Hey Ben — You talk a lot about how long duration exercise wreaks havoc on hormones. How long is too long for cardio? What about an exercise session in general? I try to keep my endurance cardio to one day per week. Other days consist of HIIT plus weights. Thanks… Megan in TX

    1. Megan, it depends, but in most cases I am talking about runs that exceed 90 minutes (and *any* long runs more than once per week), bike rides that exceed 3 hours, and strength sessions or swims that exceed 60 minutes. It's marathoners, Ironman athletes, etc. that mostly need to pay attention to this!

  7. Matt says:

    Hey Ben,

    Your advice is usually spot-on, but some of your statements about q-factor were off the mark. Q-factor is a function of the bottom bracket and crankset, not the bike frame. Campy lists their q-factors right on the crankset; the way the spindle mates inside the frame would make it impossible to "widen" the q-factor from one bike frame to another without the spindle separating. The only way to really widen the q-factor is to change the pedal spindle or get a different crankset. Also, it is generally accepted that lower q-factors are always favorable due to simple physics- the longer the vertical force vector and shorter the horizontal vector the more of your energy goes into moving the bike. G. Obree actually created his own BB system for one of his Hour Record attempts and created a very narrow q-factor using parts from a washing machine parts; check it out at http://geared-facile.blogspot.com/2012_07_01_arch…. Anyway, he obviously thought narrower was better for both ergonomics and aerodynamics.

    1. Mat, the issue here is that a narrow Q-factor can cause tibial torque in individuals who have naturally high ankle external rotation or an extremely varus pedal stroke. While in a perfect scenario it can certainly increase power transfer, that doesn't matter too much if you have to torque a joint to adapt to the narrow Q-factor. What I meant by "bike frame" is that bottom brackets vary between manufacturers, and the BB Shell Width can affect Q-Factor (see http://sheldonbrown.com/bbsize.html for variation in sizes)…I nearly destroyed my knees last year riding WAY to narrow due to a change in several mm in bottom bracket width affecting my Q-factor…

      1. Dan says:

        Thanks for discussing my question, Ben. I since have installed spacers/extenders, and I am happy with the width of my feet on my '11 Specialized Tarmac Expert. I noticed my mountain bike stance was about an inch wider than the road bike, so now they are about equal. I have been getting ITBS and other pains on the road bike, hoping this helps. Yesterday's ride was successful, so I am hoping that continues.


      2. Matt says:

        As long as you're referring to difference between manufacturers like Campy vs. Shimano vs. SRAM, I'll agree with you. BB shell widths from Cervelo to Trek don't change.
        BTW, I think you are referring to genu valgum rather than genu varum.

        1. I don't remember exactly what I said during podcast, but let's say you have inward movement of knee towards top tube at top of pedal stroke, you're looking at varus wedging for something like that…

  8. Steve says:

    I lived in Chile 20 years ago and drank my share of yerba mate. A few years ago I pulled out my straw and cup and was pretty appalled. I can’t speak for all of them, but my straw was tarnished and peeling and looked like it was made out of cadmium or lead or some heavy metal. I wonder did this study you mentioned look at the cups and straws used?

    1. Matt says:

      I can't help but wonder if this is more a function of drinking hot beverages vs. the actual yerba mate. There was a study done in Iran that showed that drinking black tea also increased the risk of esophageal cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19325180). Perhaps drinking hot water all the time would produce the same results, but I don't know of any cultures where that is popular. I suspect that if you continually scald your esophagus, cancer might be coming your way.

      1. Hot water doesn't have any more hydrocarbons in it than cold water, and it's specifically the hydrocarbons that are the culprit…

        1. Matt says:

          Any idea why we see the same correlation then with black tea? Does black tea also have hydrocarbons?

  9. kem says:

    Another great podcast. Ta.

    Mixing two questions (rotator cuff and high rep low weight), that's the sentence from the physio. Seems to work. I've been recovering from reattaching the supraspinatus for the better part of a year. I have gotten back to some heavier weights, pullups, dips, etc but need to be careful. I love my physio… and it's not just her lovely Scottidh accent… she's a wizard.

    I recently heard Fred Hahn say that at his age you don't heal from accidents. I have a few years on him and I think he's correct.

    That said, I had a little ski tour yesterday, followed with a session with the chainsaw and splitting maul.

    1. I think it depends on the state you get your body into. With ample natural antinflammatory assistance from curcumin extract, cartilage, cherry juice, ginger, etc., deep tissue and mobility work, I think you can definitely heal from soft tissues injuries effectively, no matter your age…

      1. kem says:

        I hope so… but I find it's never as good as it was anymore. At least things are working well enough, probably better than 95% of sixty year olds.

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