Training

Take A HIIT

Incorporating high-intensity interval training into your weekly training can be a shortcut to improved performance, fat burning and weight loss…

What is HIIT?

Based on studies by Professor Izumi Tabata in the late 90s, HIIT is a workout of ultra-hard intervals that alternate equal length high intensity anaerobic efforts with less intense active recovery intervals. The idea is that by breaking your high intensity efforts with recovery periods, you can do more high intensity work per workout. Studies have shown that HIIT improves aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and makes the body burn fat more efficiently – and also, by also raising your resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours, it keeps you burning extra calories after the session.

How do you do it?

According to Professor Tabata, the high interval effort needs to be almost flat out – beyond your lactate threshold and above 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate. The low effort should be at about 50 per cent of your maximum heart rate. The difficulty of the workout is varied by the ratio of recovery time to work time in a particular session. Tabata’s total workout time was only four minutes for this ultra-high intensity session (see ‘Super-tough Tabata’, below) but even for sessions with a higher ratio of recovery, the total session time shouldn’t last any more than 20 minutes.

Beginner’s session

If you’re not super fit start with a high recovery to sprint ratio, such as 9:1 – after each all-out effort you should do an active recovery interval of soft pedalling up to nine times longer before the next full-on effort. As you become fitter, reduce the recovery ration, (6:1, 3:1, 2:1, even 1:2 when you’re at peak fitness) and do more sessions – up to three – a week.

  • Warm up for five to 10 minutes
  • Sprint for 30 seconds flat out (80 per cent maximum heart rate)
  • Recover for 90 seconds (50 per cent maximum heart rate)
  • Repeat 10 times (20 minutes total)
  • Warm down for five to 10 minutes
  • Recover for 90 seconds (50 per cent maximum heart rate)
  • Repeat 10 times (20 minutes total)
  • Warm down for five to 10 minutes

Super-tough Tabata

This is the workout that Tabata put the Japanese speed skating team through. It only takes four minutes in total but the short efforts are absolutely flat out, and the recovery periods minimal. Do this properly and you’ll raise your resting metabolic rate and burn extra calories for the next 24 hours. Don’t do HIIT intervals like this on consecutive days or you’ll overtrain.

  • Warm up for five to 10 minutes
  • Sprint for 20 seconds flat out (80 per cent maximum heart rate)
  • Recover for 10 seconds (50 per cent maximum heart rate)
  • Repeat eight times (four minutes total)
  • Warm down for five to 10 minutes