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Guidelines for Total-Body Conditioning

This is an excerpt from Maximum Interval Training by John Cissik & Jay Dawes.

No approach to training is perfect, and this caution is certainly true when using maximum interval training as your workout program. This section gives you some things to keep in mind when putting together your program. By understanding these limitations, you will be able to overcome them and keep your workouts effective.

Total-Body Conditioning Must Follow the Principles of Exercise

A frequent mistake made when using maximum interval training as the primary method of working out is failing to observe the principles of exercise. Recall that chapter 14 listed the following principles of exercise: specificity, overload, progression, muscle balance, and individualization. All these principles need to be applied to a maximum interval-training program.

Total-Body Conditioning Must Be Organized Carefully

Total-body conditioning needs to be organized so that it is easy to move between exercises and tools with a minimal break in the activity. For example, let's say that a workout includes the following exercises: kettlebell two-handed swing, medicine ball chest pass, 20-meter sprint, suspension chest press, and suspension knees to chest. The kettlebell exercise is performed in one place; in other words, you don't change your location while you perform it. But after tossing the medicine ball, you have to go get it to continue performing the repetitions. If you keep moving away from your starting point with each rep, you could get pretty far away. Then you have to perform the sprint, perform the chest press, and then take time to adjust the suspension trainer to perform the knees to chest exercise. All this could result in too much downtime to have an effective workout.

A better approach would be to organize the training session as follows. First, perform the kettlebell two-handed swing. Second, perform the medicine ball chest pass, but after the first toss, toss it back to the start line for the second toss. Continue tossing it back and forth, first away from the start line and then back toward the start line. Make the last toss toward the start line. Third, sprint the 20 meters. Fourth, after the sprint perform push-ups instead of the chest press. No equipment is necessary, so you can perform the exercise anywhere. Fifth, sprint back to the suspension trainer and perform the knees to chest exercise. These modifications are an example of how to organize training to maximize what you have access to while minimizing things that waste your time.

Long-Term Programs

The long-term program presented in this chapter is meant to keep you interested, give you lots of variety, increase your fitness level, and force your body to adapt to the training. The long-term program consists of several mesocycles, each of which builds on the one that came before. After you have completed all the steps, you should start the whole program over again. The mesocycles are called Get in Shape, Build Those Muscles, Use Those Muscles, and Train Like an Athlete.

Get in Shape

The Get in Shape mesocycle lasts four weeks. It involves training three times a week, ideally with a day off after each training session. The training revolves around total-body circuit training with sprints, total-body exercises (like heavy ropes slams), and cardiovascular exercises mixed in between the circuits. This fast, high-volume training is designed to burn a lot of calories and improve your endurance. This training also lays the foundation for the future steps.

Table 21.6 shows a week of workouts for this part of training. Note that each workout is a little different in terms of the exercises, the amount of time spent performing each exercise, and the activity to be performed during "recovery." All the workouts are designed so that minimal changes to equipment are required. The first day involves heavy ropes and bodyweight exercises, so all the exercises can be performed in the same location. The second day involves alternating between suspension-training exercises and medicine ball exercises. The third day involves alternating between sandbags and kettlebells.

Click here to go the exercise finder, which will link you to each exercise found in part II.

Build Those Muscles

This four-week mesocycle builds on the fitness base developed in the previous mesocycle. The training is a little heavier. It incorporates both a circuit approach and a set approach, and it uses a combination of total-body exercises and core exercises as recovery tools. This mesocycle develops the ligaments, tendons, and bones, so it helps prevent future injuries from training in the next two cycles.

Table 21.7 shows a week of workouts for this part of training. The first thing to notice is that training occurs on four days each week with one day off. Days 1 and 4 are focused on lower-body training, and days 2 and 5 are focused on upper-body training. Days 4 and 5 use a set format. For each of these exercises, three sets should be performed.

Click here to go the exercise finder, which will link you to each exercise found in part II.

Use Those Muscles

This mesocycle takes the fitness base developed in the first mesocycle and the muscle and soft-tissue development from the second and trains you how to apply those improvements. This mesocycle focuses more on developing strength and power, and it places greater emphasis on total-body movements than the previous two mesocycles did. Weights are heavier, volume is lower, and the set approach receives greater emphasis.

Table 21.8 shows a sample week of workouts from this mesocycle. Note that the workouts occur on only three days a week. The workouts are total body and heavier in nature, so a day off should be scheduled after each workout for recovery. A set approach is used for each workout. Three sets of each exercise should be performed.


Learn more about Maximum Interval Training.

More Excerpts From Maximum Interval Training