T Nation

Am I On The Right Track Doing HIIT Class 4-5x a Week?

6’3, 202 lbs, my heaviest was 250 lbs but dropped a lot by just eating good, now I’m actually working out. Tried to structure this nicely with enough details since I really appreciate your time in looking this over!

My goals are:

• Get down to 180-185 with a caloric deficit and HIIT
• Then, eat at a caloric surplus and start something like 5x5, cutting out HIIT

I’m currently doing:

•5x a week consistently of a HIIT class I go to
•The class is F45 (similar to Orange Theory)
•Alternating days of HIIT Cardio/Resistance training (Lots of squats/deadlifts and compound movements but not insane amount of weight as it’s usually preset, but great workout)
•I run a mile total to the class and back
•Track calories burned with their heart rate monitor
•Weigh/track/log EVERY calorie in MFP

I currently eat this consistently:
• Breakfast: Green kale/broccoli smoothie, banana, apple, coconut water, dates
• Lunch: Salad (no meat just bunch of low calorie stuff)
• Snack: Dates, tomato’s
• Dinner/Post Workout: Skinless chicken breast over cauliflower rice risotto
(All organic and high quality food)

Eating 1700-1800 calories a day
Workout says 650-750 (calculates afterburner effect and part of your TDEE for the 45 mins)
I run a mile a day so I just don’t count that in case the HR monitor is a bit exaggerated.

I’m aware:
• I have no muscle structure
• I have lots of fat
• If I get down to 180-185 I will have an awkward runners bod at first
• Part of my fat loss goal is that I carry a lot in my face and just need to cut fat % before building muscle
• I have never been this dedicated and this current system to lose weight is sustainable for me and I am motivated
• You guys probably roll eyes at these type of classes, but the trainers correct a lot of my bad form on movements like squats/deadlifts/rows that will come in useful when I start lifting heavier.
Longer term:
• Once I get down to my goal weight I will still eat just as good but at a caloric surplus
• Good workout plan to build muscle and cut out all the cardio!

What I’m proud of:
• Sticking to something consistent that I enjoy and look forward to each day
• I couldn’t even do a pushup a month ago now I can do 20 in a row
• Feel stronger and strengthening every muscle that hasn’t been used before to be decent when I start lifting heavy weights
• I couldn’t even really squat without weight with good form, now I have good form and am incorporating weight!

Am I on the right track here or can you guys spot anything crucial I should change? Thank you!

I’m a big fan of tracking against your goals and making small adjustments when things no longer work.

As long as you are able to maintain intensity in your classes then that is what matters.

One improvement you could make right away is to get more protein sources into your diet. Basically only one of your meals has a solid protein source, you will need more. Eggs or a scoop of protein powder to breakfast, beans to lunch for example


Those aren’t really goals. More like a routine to reach your goal, which you haven’t said what that is yet. What’s the end goal?


Drop excess fat to look better with and without a shirt on. Lose the double chin and fat I carry in the face.

I figured 180-185 would give me a good baseline to just concentrate on one thing at that point, gaining muscle mass to put on my frame.

Going to second the protein. Very little in the diet.


My advice would be:

Lift heavy 3-4x per week. Ideally 3x5 or 5x5 on a linear progression program.

1 hour steady state cardio per week or 40min HIIT

Eat in a slight and sustainable deficit (no more than 20%). If you are losing strength you’re not eating enough; if you’re not losing body fat, you’re eating too much.

If fat loss stalls for 3 weeks, increase cardio by 20-30 minutes per week, up to 3 hours per week.

Don’t do more than 3 20min HIIT sessions per week.

Eat a high protein nutrient dense diet.

Take a moving average of your scale weight first thing in the morning to see how you’re weight is changing.

Sorry new members can only embed an image in one post at a time lol

Protein does seem low.

  1. Should I double it?
  2. In short, this will help with building muscle and recovery I’m assuming as a tl;dr?

Your protein is decent, but should probably be at 150g-200g/day for optimal results. It helps with a number of things.

Keeps you satiated, has a high thermic effect (~30% of the calories you eat are burned just digesting it), and is available for protein synthesis (muscle building)

Optimally, I would suggest a coach. Short of that, less cardio and start challenging weights asap.


Definitely agree with this. I also think a little extra fat in your diet would be of value. We’re not a million miles off the same age and weight and I find I feel much better with 70-90g fat a day and closer to 200g protein.

I have to agree with this. Maybe not a coach but a good strength program would be a good start. You look like you have made some great progress and you are setting up good habits and enjoying your training these are big plus points. I wouldn’t wait to be super skinny to start a strength program, start now and mix in some HIIT or other conditioning work.

Good info. I am at a place right now where I can actually afford a coach and good quality food, so I am not opposed to it at all. Very motivated.

  1. If going to a gym like LA fitness, do I just see what coaches they have, or are they kind of a joke and I should look outside gyms to find someone that’s good and that I can easily drop if I’m not happy + don’t have to see them every day again?

  2. My biggest issue is I have a hard time understanding why strength lifting on a caloric deficit would be better than first focusing losing weight on more of a caloric deficit by intense cardio. Doesn’t seem like an optimal way to build muscle so why not just burn off the excess fat as quick as possible and then concentrate on muscle growth with the support of a caloric surplus?

    A. Can I really lose fat and build muscle on a caloric deficit since I’m this new?
    B. Will I lose any potential beginner gains by gaining strength on a caloric deficit but don’t
    have the extra calories to support muscle growth?

Maybe someone has an easy way to explain it, I’m sure it’s a pretty common concern.

  1. There are more bad ones than good ones. But maybe you’ll get lucky. Make sure the coach focuses on compound exercises. Watch some of Mark Rippetoe’s videos on weightlifting form or read his book “starting strength” If the coach understands the concepts and is familiar with Mark’s work, then your coach is better than most.

  2. Building muscle is WAY harder than burning fat. Don’t set yourself up for losing muscle. Too much cardio will burn muscle, too much cardio with limited weight training will burn a lot of muscle. You’ll keep losing weight, but always feel like you need to lose more and more because you will just keep looking fat, even at a low weight.

A. Yes, you’re in a prime position to do it. But you need to lose the fat slowly. No more than a pound a week or so.

B. No, beginner gains are the result of proper weight training. You’ll build some muscle in a deficit, and once you start upping your calories you’ll start getting the rest of your beginner gains.

1 Like

This is gold.

  1. I was aiming for like 3lb/wk though lol. 1 seems very slow for me, is this to prevent muscle loss? I don’t even have any muscle really is my thinking.

  2. I will do a lot more reading on the topics you provided, can you tell me the short answer to this though: If I do the 5x5 3 times a week, is there anyway I can make this more effective, like do it 4x a week or do 3x a week and still do 1-2 HIIT classes in between? Or will the lack of rest be more detrimental compared to the gains?

Like I said I’m really motivated right now and I know myself when I get committed that I don’t fear getting burned out or anything, I want to maximize my results as much as possible.

How long did this nearly 50 pound drop take?

And, more importantly, I definitely would not consider your sample menu to be “eating good”. It’s very low-calorie for your size. And low fat. And low protein. And the primary carb source is sugar.

This doesn’t mesh with the nutrient pic snapshot you posted. How in the world is this 110g protein and 53g fat? Either it’s not actually what you’re eating consistently, you didn’t list a bunch of important stuff in the “consistent” day, or the numbers are inaccurate for some other reason.

Because the sooner you start lifting, the sooner your body will start actually building lean muscle. Lean muscle is what improves your metabolism and your physique and your health.

Simply losing weight by eating less calories and doing more cardio leads to a “skinny fat” look, where you’re smaller and lighter but also soft and jiggly.

Dropping 1-2 pounds a week is solid, sustainable progress that any experienced coach or lifter would be happy with. Dropping 3+ pounds a week, for weeks on end, typically happens only with super-obese people or with people using extreme, short-term plans which can’t be maintained for very long.

  1. It wasn’t all at once as I would gain and lose, but probably over 6-8 months doing just aggressive keto and no workouts

  2. Yeah I’m like scared of calories right now as I am not really losing weight if I adjust it to higher calories and the only success I had was IF + Keto. I would love to eat more I just don’t see a change weight even if doing heavy HIIT with it.

  3. Nutrients: You’re right. Just checked, I had some small snacks that day like some prosciutto, they added up to the rest of the protein. The chicken breast was only 55g protein.

Looks like I need to have a good trainer make a plan for me.

If I’m going to LA fitness:

A. Should I ask to see a sheet of their trainers and credentials and pick the best one?
B. Have them make me a nutrition plan or find someone good on here? (I think the same person should do it that’s training me but idk if personal trainers typically do nutrition planning)
C. If I’m doing 5x5 3 days per week and need someone to make sure my squat form stays on track, I’m eating correctly, how many days per week should I hire a PT? Is 3x a week for the first few weeks fine then go down to 1x per week? I feel it would get to a point where they’re kinda just watching me at that point?

I do have previous experience weightlifting like when I was much younger lol so I know the basics of the movements, but I would prefer someone watching my form as my body is much different now and I don’t wanna snap my shit and set me back. Plus I don’t want to waste time by not eating enough or something that’s going to make my efforts not effective.

Some people might disagree with me here, so disclaimer - this is solely my opinion:

Personal trainers at commercial gyms are usually trash.

I have known a couple good ones, and you can tell immediately because they’re big, and you can regularly see them putting up big weights. Most of the time though, they’re clowns. When I was much less strong than I am now, and knew much less than i know now, I was a personal trainer. The certification was 99% stuff I’ll never use again and the small amount of applicable information has mostly since turned out to be wrong.

However: this doesn’t mean your gym doesn’t have a good trainer. It just means you NEED to watch out for hard sell tactics. Trainers will lead you straight to the payment plan, and take everything they can get.

Go talk to some people and make a plan to LEAVE, no matter what, WITHOUT agreeing to a single thing or giving your number out. Then you can think things over away from the pressure and make your decision.


You need to completely change this mindset if you want any chance of hitting your goal.

You can find a coach that knows how to squat, or you can do a lot of research and video tape your form. There are also online coaches that can help, or you can post form checks on the forums here. All of them are good options, but some will lead to you mastering the exercises faster.

You should hire a coach for as long and as often as you think you are getting value from it.

I don’t disagree. Most of these trainers will tell you what you want to hear, and not tell you what you need to hear.

1 Like