Personal Trainer Kyle Evans Explains High Intensity Functional Training (“HIFT”)



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Kyle has a background as an elite level sportsman having played provincial Rugby, Waterpolo and Athletics for Natal and Gauteng. During his illustrious career Kyle benefited and learnt from some of the world’s best Strength and Conditioning coaches and now applies the same advanced training techniques to his personal training clients at GymNation.


“Being a multi-discipline Athlete, especially at the elite level, requires a variety of ‘fitness weapons’. A rugby and water polo player must have good aerobic and cardiovascular capacity but both sports at their heart are actually anaerobic, made up of brief periods of explosive play interspersed with short breaks. During these explosive moments, a player is required to harness and exploit all of his fitness abilities (power, speed, agility, strength) into one brief period.


As such my training was predominately focused towards functional training at a high intensity as to replicate the explosive and ballistic activities of a competitive game environment. In rugby, everyone is strong! What set me apart from the rest, was my ability to move with agility and speed, activating the right muscles at the right times to make me a more explosive and powerful athlete.


Over the course of a long career across several different sports, I developed a specialized training methodology which I now employ as a Personal Trainer, I like to call this HIFT (“High-Intensity Functional Training”). HIFT sits between traditional resistance (strength) training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) but gives you the benefits of both by addressing multiple fitness domains.


We all know that resistance or weight training is great for building muscle and HIIT gives improved aerobic fitness in a short time period. But in isolation neither will give you the more rounded results most gym-goers or athletes are striving for.


Resistance and weights training isolate joints and are training muscles, not movements, which results in less functional improvement. A lot of people in the gym head straight to the weights room or jump onto a strength machine, as their goal is inherently muscle growth. But if you want real-world functional strength, that you can use in a competitive environment, there are much better ways to train which will work your muscle groups in synergy and not in isolation. What this boils down to is the difference between strength and power – and yes there is a big difference between the two! Where a slow squat performed using a heavy weight is an expression of strength, an explosive vertical jump is an expression of power. Power requires the ability to recruit a vast number of muscle groups and your nervous system simultaneously. This is why you might be shocked when watching more lightly muscled rugby players, or other powerful athletes, outperform their heavier more muscled counterparts.


Equally, HIIT, as useful as it is for increasing aerobic capacity in a short timeframe, does not necessarily transfer to improved sports performance or muscle growth as HIIT training does not incorporate functional strength movements.  


What my individualized and carefully managed HIFT training routine can achieve is the holy grail of improving muscular size (men) / definition (ladies) and aerobic (VO2Max) fitness at the same time. And if you are looking for a specific improvement in a particular sport we can specialize the HIFT towards your discipline for increased sports-related performance.”


Read more about GYMNATION Personal Trainers here.