Sunday, March 1, 2009

HIIT the road Jack..

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or sprint interval training, is an exercise protocol that is intended to improve performance with short training sessions. HIIT is a form of cardio which is beneficial to burning fat in a short and intense workout. Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 15-30 minutes. Most HIIT sessions have a 2:1 ratio in terms of time.

A HIIT session involves a warmup period, several short, maximum-intensity efforts separated by moderate recovery intervals, and a cooldown period. The period of alternating effort and recovery intervals typically lasts a total of 15-20 minutes. HIIT is an excellent way to maximize your workout if you are limited on time as well.

Perhaps the most popular HIIT protocol is that devised by Japanese exercise physiologist Izumi Tabata. The Tabata protocol was developed using stationary cycling. It’s essentially a 2:1 time ratio interval performed at max effort and complete rest. Here is the protocol that I use. Steps 1-3 are the warmup, followed by steps 4-6 which are the max intensity efforts, followed by step 7- the cooldown:

1. Perform 5-10 minutes of hi rpm (90+), low power (L1/L2), then;
2. Perform a 20-second L4 interval, followed by 20-second L2 rest interval
3. Repeat step 2, two to three times
4. Perform a 20-second sprint at maximum power, then;
5. Perform 10 seconds of rest, NO PEDALING, then;
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have performed a total of 8 x 20-second max power sprints, then;
7. Cool down with a 5 minute hi rpm (90+), low power (L1/L2) effort.


Do NOT try these intervals if you’re
a novice athlete or new to cycling.
These intervals are HARD and designed
for fit/elite athletes only!
1. When performing these Tabata intervals for the first time, you might want to shoot for a maximum of 6 intervals instead of 8. And, I don’t recommend doing these intervals on your bicycle clamped on an indoor trainer unless you stay seated the entire time. (I just don’t think it’s steady enough). I prefer to do these efforts standing on my Cycleops Pro 300PT indoor trainer which is VERY stable...or doing them on a long stretch of road (outside on my bike) void of intersections or heavy traffic (like Rt. 29 in NJ).
2. For PM users, download the training file into Training Peak software and note your average 20 sec. maximum sustained power for each sprint. Each time you do these intervals try to maintain the same max power for each sprint. And, try to improve your max power (if you can) each time you do these interval workouts.
3. For max results, studies have shown, these intervals should be performed 5x/week for 5-6 weeks. Well, that’s all fine/good in December/January when the weather is foul but for March, I prefer to get my arse outdoors and ride. That is why I incorporate these intervals into my workouts either 1-2x per week in March...especially when I’m short on time and only have time for a ½ hour workout.

When the Tabata HIIT protocol was compared with low intensity stationary cycling, both improved maximum oxygen consumption but only HIIT improved anaerobic performance. What’s more, HIIT produced these superior results in a much more time efficient manner.
So, HIIT the road Jack..and improve your aerobic and anaerobic capacity/performance!

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