The Three Rules of High Intensity Training That Lead to Real and Lasting Results

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In new book from Human Kinetics, best-selling author details how to get the most out of the popular training method

The Modern Art of High Intensity Training by Aurelien Broussal-Derval and Stephane Ganneau

"To achieve real progress, you must keep in mind one of the principles of training: Working out means making choices." – Aurélien Broussal-Derval

High intensity training’s greatest asset may also be its biggest weakness. As best-selling author and strength and conditioning coach Aurélien Broussal-Derval points out, the variety inherent in the training’s many programs is what initially attracts most people and holds their interest. However, starting a new program that is different and innovative in many ways, uses different weights and offers a new workout each day may lead to a level of creativity that is actually counterproductive.

Broussal-Derval warns that changing things up during high intensity training, solely for the sake of change, could result in unintended consequences. These consequences include separating a person’s technical development from his or her physical progress or randomly changing programs from one workout to the next, meaning the person will never create lasting adaptations, which greatly limits their potential. “Obviously, you can vary your training,” he says, “but there is an art to doing so.”

In The Modern Art of High Intensity Training (Human Kinetics, February 2017), Broussal-Derval’s forthcoming book with professional illustrator Stéphane Ganneau, he details how the popularity of high intensity training has gone hand in hand with scientists’ growing interest in combined workouts. At the beginning of the 21st century, many studies were done on combining different types of training during the same workout or in the same set. Although results vary depending on the fitness level of the athletes and the weight used in the workout, studies agree on a set of rules — rules that are reflected in Broussal-Derval’s approach.

Rule 1: Prioritize the Work

According to Broussal-Derval, most studies agree that training programs dedicated to strength will have a greater effect on strength, and programs dedicated to cardiovascular endurance will have a greater effect on cardiovascular endurance. “We are talking about the limits of the all-in-one training approach taken in traditional high intensity training,” he says. “To achieve real progress, you must keep in mind one of the principles of training: Working out means making choices.”

Recent studies show that the frequency of cardiovascular endurance training should be low if the primary objective during a given cycle is to develop strength. “Without compromising the richness of high intensity training, our approach establishes clear priorities for each cycle and each workout,” Broussal-Derval reveals. Therefore, every workout should have a single theme.

Rule 2: Work Out in the Right Order

One idea that comes out of numerous studies is the priority of neuromuscular parameters on cardiovascular endurance. In fact, starting a workout with aerobic endurance training always seems to produce less satisfactory strength gains than starting with strength training. The stress on the nervous system during the initial aerobic endurance training undoubtedly affects the athlete’s ability to generate strength during the subsequent resistance training workout.

“Whether during the workout or during the day, our approach gives you a plan that emphasizes strength-oriented training sequences,” Broussal-Derval comments. “In that case, to optimize potential progress, we recommend that you plan as much recovery time as possible between workouts.”

Rule 3: Avoid Bad Combinations

Finally, Broussal-Derval points to an important notion brought to light in modern training, that of interference between incompatible training modes. During high intensity training, in which combined workouts make up the activity, he says the trick is to limit interference as much as possible by avoiding certain training sequences, not only within the same workout but also within the same cycle.

As an example, Broussal-Derval says the most antagonistic training sequences are those that combine resistance training and intermittent aerobic training at high intensity. The combination of these two types of sequences, both producing incompatible peripheral effects, should be avoided.

“Some exercise classes or training programs rely on the ‘instant results’ fitness approach,” Broussal-Derval concludes. “But the risk of doing a little of everything is ultimately doing a lot of nothing. We will show you how to create a functional training program that will deliver real and lasting results.”

Boasting 40 exercises, 127 workouts and a 15-week program, all accompanied by Broussal-Derval’s advice and instruction, The Modern Art of High Intensity Training features Ganneau’s stunning artwork. His sleek and eye-catching illustrations convey the strength, power and intensity of the movements and complements the book’s 375 full-color photos. For more information on The Modern Art of High Intensity Training or other strength and conditioning books and resources, visit


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Bill Johnson
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