Two-time former Figure Olympia champion turned Bikini pro Erin Stern knows how to build a champion-worthy physique. One methodology to achieve the conditioning necessary for the Olympia stage is high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
However, Stern utilizes another methodology that offers similar benefits to HIIT without the excess burden on her recovery — high-intensity, low-impact training (HILIT). On July 12, 2023, Erin Stern published a video on her YouTube channel covering the’s benefits of HILIT. Check it out below:
High-Intensity, Low-Impact Training
While HIIT can build muscle and increase metabolism for up to two days post-workout, drawbacks exist. High-intensity intervals can include movements like sprinting, which applies eccentric force on the joints. A challenging HIIT session can slow recovery time, stymying desired training frequency.
Stern’s solution is a high-intensity, low-impact training modality. She looks for concentric-based movements, such as push-ups and shoulder presses, interspersed with time on an Assault bike or elliptical. The basis for HILIT is similar to that of HIIT:
Get your heart rate up to 80 percent of max.
According to the International Journal of Exercise Science, a simple way to estimate one’s maximum heart rate (beats per minute) is 220 minus age. (1) So, for example, so a 30-year-old’s estimated max rate is 190 beats per minute (220 – 30 = 190). Therefore, 80 percent of their max heart rate is 152 beats per minute (190 x .8 = 152).
Stern recommends an interval of concentric movement for 15 to 60 seconds at 80 percent of max heart rate and then rest until fully recovered, determined when the heart rate reaches 60 percent of one’s max heart rate. Keeping with the 30-year-old as an example, they should refrain from performing their next interval until their heart rate returns to 114 beats per minute.
Erin Stern’s Example HILIT Workout
Stern shared a sample workout she performs comprised of three to four rounds of 15-30 seconds all-out efforts on an Assault bike and then the stair climber. Rest times between each round increase depending on the duration of the workout, as the near-max effort attempts have a compound effect that causes further fatigue each round.
The working time should be approximately 20-25 minutes, excluding warm-up and cooldown. Stern recommends beginners perform one HILIT session of two or three rounds weekly. Ways to progress include increasing the time of all-out exertion, the number of rounds, or the frequency of workouts per week.
Shookster, D., Lindsey, B., Cortes, N., & Martin, J. R. (2020). Accuracy of Commonly Used Age-Predicted Maximal Heart Rate Equations. International journal of exercise science, 13(7), 1242–1250.
Featured image: @2x_ms_olympia on Instagram