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The science of HIIT

The beautiful thing about high intensity interval training is that it’s just that.  It’s based on intervals.  Certain times of work contrasted with rest periods to break up each work cycle.  You have to know that the interval time, rest times, and the number of repetitions have meaning.  They aren’t just randomly put together.  A beautiful symphony of work, rest, and recovery has to occur to get a certain stimulus.  If that balance is not specific, then the point, the work, the potency, and the magic of being specific can easily be lost.  What I’m saying is…..don’t try and create interval training on your own at home, it can be dangerous.  First, seek to understand, and then know the science. There are 3 things you should know about interval training.

  1. The duration of the interval needs to match up with a certain amount of volume and recovery.  In other words we know that HIIT training is effective in a number of ways.  It increases human growth hormone output, it decreases body fat, it increases performance aerobic and anaerobic, and it creates a spike in metabolism that is longer lasting than endurance training.  We know from research that it doesn’t work to just randomly throw different time domains out there with a guess at volume.  The specifics have to be part of the prescribed workout.  Here is what we know are the best combinations of time to work, time to rest, and number of efforts associated with each.  
  2. Sprint - 10-30 second work.  Rest 30-90 seconds.  Total efforts 25 -30.
    Mid Distance - 30-120 seconds work.  Rest 60-240 seconds.  Total efforts 10-20.
    Long Distance - 120-300 seconds work- Rest 120-300 seconds.  Total efforts 3-5.
  3. You have to work at 95% to 100% effort.  The only way these intervals work is at 95% to 100% of your max heart rate.  That means true max heart rate.  Most of us have no idea what that really is.  Unless you have done a true stress test that has blood lactate and oxygen uptake associated with it, only done in a lab.  So, this means that each interval should have a subjective response that looks and feels like….hands on legs, heart pounding, sweating, out of breath, and feeling very very challenged!
  4. The beauty is that you can do this anywhere using anything.  On a bike, on the running trail, in any gym, using body weight.

As we approach this week of training, many of us travel.  Heading to the cabin or out of town.  Here is your week of training.  Take the intervals work, rest, and total efforts from above and apply any movement to it!  Now, in the gym, we will have specific plans to touch on each one of these intervals as well as mixing and matching some of them.  

Fly Feet Running