I’m in the crisp, white setting of SET Fitness, where Head Trainer Robert Messina is giving me a PowerPoint presentation about High Intensity Training, during which I learn that the goal at SET is not exactly weight loss. It’s to change body composition—the amount of muscle mass on the body as well as the amount of fat—through shorter, yet higher-intensity workouts done once a week. This type of training continues to work your body long after your workout is over; it raises your resting metabolic rate (the minimum amount of calories needed to eat, breathe, and circulate blood flow), so your body is still working long after your session ends.
After the short info session, I got to work using the gym’s equipment—a leg press, rowing machine, and a shoulder press, among a few others. The half-hour workout consists of two to three sets of eight to 12 reps on each machine, with reps performed in a slow, continuous movement. Messina ups the ante on your final rep, as he’ll “force a negative,” using his strength to press, push, or pull against the movement you’re trying to complete. I like to think of it as an arm wrestle technique—you have to keep your form and use your muscle against another person. The half-hour workout leaves your muscles feeling even sorer than they would after spending hours doing other types of exercise.
The best part about the workout: You have a personalized routine set to meet your needs, so you won’t be fumbling around the gym on your own. And it’s only once a week for good reason—your muscles need time to recuperate. Though Messina recommends an active lifestyle to supplement the training, the low time commitment makes it an ideal style of training for those who need an efficient workout in a short amount of time.
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