Getting HIT

HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training has been all over the mainstream press in the past few weeks. Despite being known about by those who train for years, it seems that in their efforts to find yet another quick-fix solution, those people who’s task it is to churn out television shows and press articles think it could be a “useful tool in combatting obesity”. *Yawn*.

 

The BBC Horizon documentary, which you can watch on iPlayer or download is a reasonably comprehensive look at it, if you’ve got an hour to spare.
 
 
Basically the premise is simple, says Dr. Michael Mosley, the guinea pig for the program:
You get on an exercise bike, warm up by doing gentle cycling for a couple of minutes, then go flat out for 20 seconds.
A couple of minutes to catch your breath, then another 20 seconds at full throttle. Another couple of minutes gentle cycling, then a final 20 seconds going hell for leather. And that’s it.

Done three times a week, this equates to three minutes of intense exercise, and 12 minutes over the course of a month. The researchers claim that the health benefits it brings are substantial. Sounds amazing, hey? Almost too good to be true…

 
Whilst the science does stack up, there’s one major flaw: the only people who would really be willing to push themselves to cycle or sprint as fast as they can are those who are not only already reasonably fit, but who are also motivated to make the effort to do something that is in no way pleasant. That pretty much excludes the majority of people who could most benefit from doing some exercise.
 
My prediction – it’s a passing fad for the mainstream, but for those who aim to increase their performance in sports that require a high level of cardiovasucular performance it will continue to remain an invaluable tool.
 
If you’re a runner, here is an example of an interval session that I do (I’m training to run 5k in 20 minutes, so it’s very much geared at increasing my respiratory capacity and strengthening my legs):
 
5 minutes warm-up at 11km/h
30s @ 1% incline at 15km/h
1m @ 1%/11km/h
30s @ 2%/15km/h
1m @ 2%/11km/h
30s @ 3%/15km/h
1m @ 3%/11km/h
30s @ 4%/15km/h
1m @ 4%/11km/h
30s @ 3%/15km/h
1m @ 3%/11km/h
30s @ 2%/15km/h
1m @ 2%/11km/h
30s @ 1%/15km/h
1m @ 1%/11km/h
5m @ flat, 11km/h to cool down
 
If I’m honest it’s a complete nightmare, but after running 2.5 of my 5km at my goal pace (15km/h) last night, I’m pretty sure it’s making a big difference to my fitness.
 

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