Incorporating HIIT for weight loss

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  • #63743
    Jenna Dodge

    Hello! In the second call (maybe 3rd?) we briefly discussed adding on some HIIT sessions for those that need to lose weight. I’m curious how this could be incorporated into the program. Should one or both of the ChamFit be replaced with HIIT? Did I misunderstand? I haven’t lost any weight (well maybe 3# but I have 30# to go) in the last 8 weeks of training and I know I have to lose some pounds in order to achieve my goals because I am simply too heavy to be able to run and stay under AeT. I am working with Rebecca which I feel will help but I’m painfully aware that my goal race is now only 6 months away and right now I am not sure I could finish it…

  • Keymaster
    Coach on #63746

    Hello Jenna,

    First of all, I want to acknowledge two things! Weight loss is incredibly individualized, and no one thing works for everyone, the second being Uphill Athlete does not specialize in weight loss. With that being said, I know there’s literature in favor of HIIT being a tool to help aid weight loss. I know it also doesn’t work for everyone, so keep that in mind. Our training will help you be fit for your race, but it won’t guarantee weight loss, and it sounds like you are in tune with your body and know you need to make some changes. Adding in two HIIT sessions could very possibly de-rail the plan that has been built carefully to aid recovery and build progression. So this is what I would look at-does Cham fit raise your HR? Do you feel tired by the end? If your HR is pretty high during that strength session, that is already acting as a HIIT session. Next week ’30-’30s are introduced to the training, another high-intensity session. If you feel that that isn’t enough, I would substitute just one of the Cham days for a differing HIIT workout but ease yourself into that and make sure you pay attention to recovery.

    I am no expert at weight loss; I have had athletes have great success doing more fasted training and eating higher fat lower carbohydrate diets. For other athletes, it doesn’t work, though, due to their own body and fueling needs. I hope that this helps! I know Rebecca is excellent at dialing in the right foods and eating quality meals to stay fueled and ready for your workouts!

    Anonymous on #63761

    I am 110% in agreement with Maya. Be patient with this process, train for your goal and remember that often times when an athlete begins a training program they are building muscle and burning fat. Muscle weighs 5x what fat weighs for the same volume so your weight may not shift a lot at first but your body is adapting and your BMI is becoming more healthy. Try and pay attention to how clothes are fitting, how you feel. Lastly, if weight loss is a significant focus remember it is very challenging to loose weight and train effectively, hence why we do not specialize in weight loss through training. And that you still have 6 months, see how things look in two more months. You might be surprised!

    Melanie Hunter on #63924

    Hi Jenna,

    I’m not a weight loss expert, either, but I was a college volleyball player who went into 2 careers with public weigh-ins (firefighting–to determine flight weight for small aircraft, and the Army) so I’ve been around a lot of very active women trying to lose weight. To add to, or maybe just re-state, what Carolyn and Maya said, I think weight loss is a separate “discipline” that takes the same level of focus as endurance training, or training for pure strength, or to improve your climbing, or whatever your interest. It is indeed very hard to lose weight and train effectively for performance, so I hope you can cut yourself some slack while you get ready for your event. 🙂 Then if you still feel you need to lose weight (maybe you won’t feel that way!) maybe take a 3-month block and focus solely on that. Just an idea!

    Happy training!

    Participant on #63926

    Hi! Just thought I’d hop in on this thread. Can you explain or point me towards a resource to learn more about how HIIT negatively impacts capacity training? I’ve been reading some articles on capacity vs utilization training on this website and I’m trying to understand the thought process behind this training plan better.

    I ask because most running training plans incorporate both low-intensity runs and high intensity runs each week in order to promote faster performance and I’m curious how the plan we’re following differs in goal and effect 🙂 At what point would we want to start introducing HIIT into our training again, if we are training for a specific race or event?

    Anonymous on #63961

    Hi Stephanie,
    Maya and I would be more than happy to answer a few more questions regarding HIIT, or any intensity training in tomorrows zoom. We will be discussing use of TP’s CTL/ATL/TSB and other factors. The answer to your question is rather involved as we have to look at where the athlete is in their training, what the goal is, when the goal takes place, if they have ADS, etc. First I’d recommend reading or listening to the most recent book that Scott wrote it really dives into all the particulars and explains the what/when/how of UA philosophy which is reflected in these training plans.

    Training for the Uphill Athlete – No International Shipping. Free US Shipping.

    Another resource: the article below, I saved it years ago and the link to the website it was on no longer works so here’s the content below. It might help ( :

    Sand Castles: A mental model of endurance training
    March 22, 2018

    Training endurance is like building a sand castle. You need sand and water, the sense not to overdo it, and the expertise to make something great.

    Basic endurance is like piling dry sand. It can’t be shaped, just piled higher. For every inch of height, it takes a greater volume of dry sand than the inch before.
    Adding intensity is like adding water. You can increase the angle of repose of the sand, steepening the cone, getting higher with the same volume.
    Artists (great coaches) can get the saturation just right, creating amazing sculptures that will always be temporary.
    HIIT proponents misunderstand the sand/water relationship, thinking that water is the big secret:
    “If water makes sand piles steeper, let’s just use that!”; and
    “If the pile of wet sand starts to crumble, add more water!”
    The distinctions are:
    First, it’s not either/or, but the mix of sand and water that’s important;
    Second, wet sand is born from dry sand; it’s not independent. The volume of dry sand still determines the ultimate height of the cone or the shape of the castle; and
    Third, if the pile starts to ooze downward, adding more water won’t help. To restore it, you have to dry it out (by adding more dry sand).

    The simplicity of slow twitch endurance

    Slow-twitch muscle fiber is the main driver in long, easy training sessions. Slow Twitch Endurance (STE) can increase in two ways: 1) lengthen the duration of the demands on slow twitch muscle fiber; or 2) reduce the fuel available to those fibers. With either method, you need more of the same to create increases in endurance.

    STE is a lot like very dry sand. It can’t be sculpted or shaped, only piled higher. The height of the pile is a function of the angle of repose and the volume of sand available. To increase the height of the pile, you need more and more sand.

    Now imagine that pile of dry sand as a series of layers. Each layer is a hollow cone, one inch thick, nested one inside the other. Every one-inch cone must be of greater volume to fit over the previous one. Every one-inch increase in height demands a greater amount of sand than the prior inch required.

    Basic endurance training is like piling dry sand. It can’t be shaped, just piled higher.

    The fun of fast twitch endurance

    Thankfully there’s a second ingredient that can boost the performance of STE: Fast-Twitch Endurance.

    The second type of muscle fiber, fast-twitch, comes alive with intensity, but that intensity is short-lived. To bolster endurance, fast-twitch fiber needs to be forced to work longer than it wants to. Once recruited with a high load, the duration of work is extended, forcing the fiber to work aerobically.

    Fast Twitch Endurance (FTE), the “water”, is exciting because it reacts quickly and the athlete gets faster sooner. It hints at a more-for-less opportunity: You can make the sand pile taller with the same amount of sand. The angle of repose of wet sand is steeper, so by adding water to dry sand, you can get an additional inch of height without adding more sand.

    But trees don’t grow to the sky. Fast-twitch endurance development can’t be done on its own or forever.

    Wet sand has a steeper angle of repose, so the same volume of sand can be piled higher by adding water to dry sand.

    What about sand castles?

    To build a sand castle you need just the right amounts of sand, water, and expertise. Great artists (i.e. great coaches) can build sand castles, but they know that the castles are always temporary. The castles will eventually dry out, or wet out, fall down, and become a pile again.

    In endurance training, building sand castles means getting the saturation of the sand just right. Then the sand can be shaped and sculpted.

    Dry sand plus water plus expertise is when things get interesting.
    More water!

    HIIT proponents see the benefits of intensity training, but not in the broader context of where those benefits come from. (From the mix, not the components.)

    If they’re working with largely sedentary people with no aerobic foundation, that broader context is not so broad, so it’s effectively invisible. It’s a case of WYSIATI (What You See Is All There Is) that naturally leads to mistaken conclusions and overconfidence.

    Bad Conclusion #1: “If water makes sand piles steeper, let’s just use that!”

    Spoiler alert: You can’t build sand castles with just water.

    The HIIT crowd assumes that intensity is a shortcut around more training volume. They force a false choice between dry sand and water, thinking (and espousing) that wet sand can be drawn from an outside source.

    Although a pile of wet sand is steeper than a pile of dry sand, the wet sand can only be born from the dry sand. It’s not independent. So the ultimate height of the wet sand is still limited as a function of what it’s made from.

    Intensity isn’t wet sand; it’s water. You can only make wet sand with water and dry sand. If you only have water, and no dry sand, you can’t make anything.

    Bad Conclusion #2: “If wet sand starts to crumble, add more water!”

    Because the addition of intensity (i.e. “water”) has so much immediate benefit, it’s often assumed that more is better. But just like a pile of sand, adding water helps, but only to a point. It makes the pile steeper, but too much water will turn it into an oozing puddle.

    Because the choice between dry sand and wet sand is false, the HIIT crowd is backed into a corner. If adding more and more intensity stops working–which it always does–what are they left with? They can only add more water or acknowledge that they were wrong. Sadly, they’d rather add water to an already-crumbling castle.

    When wet sand starts to lose its structural integrity, adding more water isn’t the solution. Drying it out is.

    Likewise, when fitness starts to break down, it’s usually from too much intensity. Adding more intensity will make it worse, not better. The solution is to add more “dry sand”, more easy volume.

    When sand is oversaturated, it starts to crumble. Adding more water is not the answer…

    Jenna Dodge on #64495

    Thank you all for the replies! It’s given me a lot to consider as I try to figure out how (and whether) to prepare for my upcoming event. I appreciate you all!

    Anonymous on #64509

    Please let us know if we can help support you in any other way Jenna!

    YannDelys on #73186

    Weight loss is a more complex and time-consuming process than gaining weight. You need to be patient and exercise as much as possible to achieve your goal.

    YannDelys on #73305

    Weight loss is individual. No one diet works the same for everyone. Incorporating HIIT would be beneficial because it is a great way to lose weight. It would be helpful if you followed closely how these workouts affected your body and drew a conclusion. This is very difficult, so I decided to do weight loss surgery. You might be interested in learning more about it at I feel much better now.

    MadisonCarey on #75234

    The best approach would depend on your individual needs and goals, but replacing one or both of the Charm Fit sessions with HIIT could be a good starting point.

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