Fat Loss? Do Without HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a training strategy that integrates short periods of intense exercise with periods of recovery, in rapid succession, until failure or extreme exhaustion. The goal of HIIT is to maximize caloric expenditure while minimizing activity duration. Although activity duration differs, 30 minutes is generally the cap.

Here are two sample workouts:

10-second sprint, 50-second jog

EMOM*, 10 rounds

Jump Squat, Deadlift 80% 1RM, Plank

AMRAP**, EMOM, 10 rounds

*Every Minute On the Minute

**As Many Reps As Possible

This post addresses THREE pitfalls of a weight management program that strictly utilizes HIIT.

1. Sustainability

First and foremost, when starting a new training program, we need to ask ourselves: can we sustain this activity, both physically and mentally, long term? Health and fitness should be a long-term goal, but quite frankly, HIIT does not allow for this. This is because HIIT requires consistent, high-energy output…even under extreme fatigue. High-energy output under extreme fatigue, more often than not, leads to technique breakdown. Consistent (or acute) technique breakdown will (not can, will) present high injury risk, and ultimately, an injury will prevent the individual from continuing to train. For example, how will your deadlift repetitions look on your 10th round in a workout like the one above? Probably not good.

2. Progression

Next, a training program should be progressive and adaptable because the human body is designed to adapt to the stimuli we provide it. This progression should be realistic. With that in mind, if you start with the intensity that HIIT requires your first week, where will you be in week 10? In a year? For example, you start with 10 rounds of sprints like the sample workout above. Second week, you go to 12 rounds, then 15, then 20… then 60…? Yes, every training program will present challenges and plateaus, but is the risk associated with the necessary training effort worth the outcome? If the answer is no, maybe an intervention is required.

3. Practicality

Lastly, a training program should consider an individual’s or group’s overall make-up and goals. Yes, HIIT can burn plenty of calories—but burning as many calories as possible is not an optimal, long-term fat loss strategy. This is especially the case for beginners or individuals with minimal weight training experience. If improving body composition is the goal (getting “toned”), there needs to be a change in mindset. That is, building and maintaining as much muscle and strength is most optimal, and not simply burning calories, as it will not only burn calories but increase one’s Basal Metabolic Rate over the long term, too. Unfortunately, HIIT, in general, does not allow for this, as one can expect to lose almost as much muscle as fat during the process. For example, John Doe, who is skinny-fat, decides to start working out and utilizing HIIT to get rid of belly fat. Burning as many calories as he can each workout, he notices he has lost weight, but he proportionately looks the same (same body composition). Not ideal. Almost always, a strength-training/muscle-building program coupled with a nutrition intervention will work better in this case.

In summary, HIIT can be a short-term training tool for advanced trainees looking to burn fat, as it can help burn more calories than their average workout. However, when combining all of the above reasons, it’s clear that a strength-training program WITH a nutrition intervention will provide better results long-term.

“Quickly come, quickly go.”

Written by: Dawit Girma

Why Strength Training? Why Bodymass Gym?

Looking to lose fat?

Looking to gain muscle?

Looking to get “toned”?

Did you say yes to any of the three?

If you did, then you said yes to strength training. You said yes to lifting weight. You said yes to Bodymass Gym.

It’s 2018 and slowly but surely, we’re starting to see more people squatting, more people bench pressing, more people deadlifting, and most importantly, more people moving and feeling better.

So, let’s look at why these people are “doing it right” and why strength training is the most optimal approach to achieving the aforementioned goals.

First of all, in my opinion, strength training is NOT synonymous with resistance training. The difference is very small, but yet so large. Once again, in my opinion, resistance training sounds like and implies a random assortment of exercises done to appease someone’s orders. A doctor’s order, a news article, or a commercial telling you that you should “incorporate resistance training in your exercise regimen”. What does that even mean…?

When I read, “resistance training”, I read bands, cables, and machines. I read a lack of supervision, a lack of coaching, and a lack of progress. I read a lack of direction. I read “I’m doing it just to do it”.

On the other hand, in my opinion, strength training is the pursuit of gaining strength (obviously…? goes without saying…?), and implies progress. But most importantly, it implies using free weights (be it dumbbells or barbells) to improve functional movement. It implies proper coaching, proper form, and proper programming and exercise selection.

With Bodymass Build, you get just that: a strength training program that is specifically designed to improve functional movement patterns, to improve body composition, and to build self-confidence. It will challenge you, but it will also empower you.

More specifically, Bodymass Build is a strength training program that runs in four-week cycles, focuses on multi-joint, compound movements, and utilizes fundamental principles of progressive overload and periodization to produce optimal results. Each cycle provides a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to learn new movements, while maintaining the ultimate goal of full-body strength.

That said, with full-body strength as the goal, Bodymass Gym members can expect to build muscle and to burn fat as a byproduct. This is mainly due to two reasons: getting stronger will require building more muscle and getting stronger will require more work, work that will burn plenty of calories. And the best way to build muscle is to get stronger at using movements that utilize most the amounts of muscle: multi-joint, compound movements. And you guessed it… the best way to burn fat is to do movements that require the most amount of work: multi-joint, compound movements.

This, alone, is why strength training trumps yoga, spin, pilates, boot camp, HIIT, and the like. That is not to say these training methods (I don’t know if I’d really call them training methods, more so classes, but that’s besides the point) do not hold merit, that they should not be done, or that they are not fun, but they just are not the most optimal options when building muscle and losing fat is the goal. They also do not provide the same level of incremental and “trackable” progress that strength training provides, which makes it difficult to continue doing over a long period of time.

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet and there is no secret. Building muscle and losing fat, or getting “toned” (because that is what getting toned means), is a byproduct of training properly and consistently over a long period of time. And our goal at Bodymass Gym is to provide you with the tools to do just that: train properly and consistently over a long period of time.


Written By: Dawit Girma

Train to Get Strong. Eat to Get Lean.

All too often people try to use exercise as a way to validate eating whatever they want.... “I just burned 500 calories in my HIIT class, so I can go enjoy brunch now”.  This justification won’t result in progress, and in fact derails progress.

Unfortunately, our environment has shaped us to think that way.  It is important to create a mindset that allows you to feel empowered and proud of how far you have come in your strength training program.

Training allows you to get strong, feel powerful, be motivated, and create muscle. Nutrition allows you to alter your body composition and fuel your training regimen. They go hand in hand. 

Not sure where to start or feeling like you have hit a plateau? A DEXA Scan will give you a better idea as far as how much fat vs. lean muscle you have. On the nutrition end, the best place to start it by tracking your food intake for 3 days. This will highlight any red flags, and allow you to see where you can make some simple switches. 

If you have questions, reach out to a professional who can provide guidance, education, and help you change your mindset that may be holding you back from your next break through.


Written by: Megan Osysko

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 3.14.35 PM.png

Five Ways to Improve Lower Body Strength and Power

Much of the power you generate as an athlete comes from your lower body.  No matter if you are running, jumping, sprinting, tackling or even golfing, your big muscles (quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings) are what fuel that power and energy.  If you want to get faster and stronger — build stronger leg muscles.

Five Ways to Improve Lower Body Strength and Power:

  1. Perform more squats. Squats are one of the most efficient ways to improve lower extremity power.  Utilize the goblet squat using a dumbbell or kettlebell, or a back squat, front squat or overhead squat using a barbell. Be sure when performing squats to keep your chest and chin up. Drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel with the ground.
  2. Remember the deadlift. The deadlift is a great way to strengthen your lower body and can be performed either using a dumbbell, barbell, or trap bar. Just like the squat, keep your chest and chin up, drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. Be careful to not bend at the waist to cause unnecessary pressure on the lower back.
  3. Don’t forget about your hamstrings. When wanting to build lower body strength and power, it is very important to remember not to ignore your posterior chain (hamstrings and lower back).  Having a muscle imbalance from the front to the back can cause a higher risk of injury to the athlete. Performing the glute-ham raise, Romanian deadlift, Physioball hamstring curls, back extensions, or hip extensions.
  4. Get off your feet. To help improve vertical jump and power, follow your knee dominant exercise with an explosive movement that complements the exercise just performed. For example, squat jumps, split squat jumps, and single leg squat jumps.
  5. Find Balance with Single Leg Exercises. Everyone has a dominant side; therefore, performing single leg exercises allows it not to hide. It is also a great way to improve balance and stability. Single-leg, knee dominant exercises are stepups and single leg squats. Single leg hip dominant exercises are single-leg Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, and hip extensions.

Be sure to work within the recommended amounts of sets and reps depending on your training goals.  Most athletes will work within the Muscular Strength and Muscular Hypertrophy range in order to build power and strength.

Muscle Strength: Heavy weight, 4 sets 5 reps

Muscular Hypertrophy:  Moderate to heavy weight, 3 sets 10 reps

Muscular Endurance: Light to moderate weight, 2 sets of 15 reps

Are You Coachable?

In our private and small group training, we provide a lot of feedback and coachable moments for our members.  We want all who step into the gym to receive the highest quality training on a daily basis.  It is also important that we keep individuals safe from injury.  

In order for you to get better and avoid injury, you must have a coachable mentality and willingness to improve each time you step into the gym.  

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are coachable:

1. Are you open to learning new techniques?

2. Do you listen to coaching cues?

3. Do you try to apply what you learned to each rep?

4. Are you responsive to feedback?

5. Do you express thanks when a trainer or coach gives you feedback?

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 3.36.31 PM.png

Stick to the Basics

Last week we talked about the Minimum Effective Dose for Strength Training.  This week, I want to follow up with The Basics.  


The field of health and fitness is constantly evolving. Everyone wants to know the latest and greatest trend and they often want to see results immediately. Just like any training program you are involved in, it takes time, commitment, and determination, but it doesn’t take the latest and greatest trends to get you where you need to be. Dan John, MS, speaks “The Five Movements and the Order of Learning: How Using Gaps and Standards can Inform a Program.” He stresses the basics of a good strength training program and how, more often than not, less is more.

Principle One
“Mastery of the basic human movements trumps everything else for lean body mass quality and joint mobility.”

The Basics:
Push: Push-up
Pull: Horizontal Pull-up
Hinge: Kettlebell Swing
Squat: Goblet Squat
Loaded Carry: Farmer’s Walk

Principle Two
“Standards and gaps must be constantly assessed, in a reasonable approach.”

If you are looking to further challenge yourself and take your training to the next level, use these five pieces of equipment to really get the most benefit from your strength training program.

The Killer Apps:
Barbell: Deadlift and Press
Kettlebell: Goblet Squat, Swing, Turkish Get-up
TRX: Rows, T-Y-I Pulls
Ab wheel: Ab Wheel
Mini-band: Lateral Walks

When you attend a training session at Bodymass Gym, you will find our programming set around The Basics.  Strength training is often used to complement another goal you are trying to achieve, or simply help you be the best version of yourself each day. Talk with a trained professional, set up a program including the basics, stick to the plan, and watch your results unfold over the course of 4-6 weeks. 

Written By: Megan Osysko

Strength Training 101: Minimum Effective Dose

More often than not, many think that you need to do a lot of repetitions of an exercise or to spend hours upon hours in the gym in order to benefit or see results. At Bodymass Gym, we stress Quality over Quantity.  Performing an excessive amount of repetitions or using a weight that does not suit you can increase the risk of injury due to form breakdown and overuse of the specific muscle group being used.  There is a difference between doing as little as you can and doing as much as you need to.  The minimum effective dose is all that you need to see results.  For example, if you have an infection, and 100mg would help the infection, your doctor would not prescribe you 300mg of that medication.

Here are some tips to follow when planning your next strength training workout:

  1. Total Body, 2-3 Days per Week OR Two Days of Upper Body and Two Days of Lower Body: Your workout should consist of 8-10 exercises, with a repetition range of 6-10 reps, and complete at least 2-3 sets.  Be sure to perform a total body warm-up that includes mobility work specific to the focus of the workout.
  2. Agonist & Antagonist Muscle Groups: Incorporate supersets to cut down your rest time between exercises.  If you are performing a lower body exercise, pair it with an upper body exercise; or if you are performing a pushing movement, pair it with a pulling movement.  For example, barbell bench press followed by a bent-over dumbbell row.
  3. Contrast Training: Immediately follow a strength exercise with a power exercise of the same muscle group.  For example, goblet squat followed by squat jumps.
  4. Unilateral and Bilateral Movements: Everyone has a stronger side.  Incorporate the use of both dumbbells and barbell exercises.  For example, barbell push press followed by a single arm lat pulldown.
Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 11.24.15 AM.png


In addition to the tips listed above, remember it’s important to ensure that your training plan and strategy is aligned with your training goals, in terms of both quality and quantity.

Written by: Megan Osysko

Training Designed for a Stronger YOU!

Bodymass Gym is not like your cookie-cutter, over-crowded group exercise classes.  With no more than 10 individuals in a class, we pride ourselves on delivering results, progressive programming and individualized coaching.  All of our classes incorporate the principles of traditional strength training, focusing on correcting form, and practicing functional movements.  Training designed for a stronger YOU!

Another main focus at Bodymass Gym is educating our members on the importance of proper nutrition and supplementation before, during and after their workouts.  Without incorporating this component, optimal results are more difficult to achieve.  

Whether you are familiar with strength training, or have never touched a dumbbell in your life, at Bodymass Gym you are welcome in our doors.  We look forward to helping each individual that steps into the gym accomplish their goals, whatever they may be!

See you in the gym!

Written By: Megan Osysko

Training designed to build a stronger you!.jpg