Friday, January 27, 2012

Science Based Interval Training that can Benefit You

There has been an abundance of research over the past few decades that has demonstrated the benefits of interval-based training. Interval training (aka HIT or HIIT) involves bouts of work followed by brief recovery periods and repeated for a desired amount of time. Most of the research has focused on the effects of workloads using ratios of 1:1 or 2:1 or greater. The interval durations have ranged from 15 seconds of work to 2.5 minutes and the intensity (workload) used has been in most cases extremely high (upwards of 170% of VO2 Max). When I read a recent study (published in the J. of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(4)1104-1112, 2011) it caught my eye because the workload was more doable for the average person (80% of VO2 Max). This particular protocol involved college aged men using a cycle that included six 90-second bouts of work followed by 180-second recovery periods. The protocol was performed 3x/week (M-W-F) for a total of 27 minutes of actual work using 80% of subjects VO2.

How can this benefit you?

A similar program can be transferred by you to the cardio equipment that you are currently using in the gym or at home. What is stopping you from trying a similar program on a treadmill, elliptical, bike or even if you were a swimmer.

Following a good 5-8 minute warm-up try power walking, running, pedaling on a bike or "pulling" on an ergometer for 90 seconds at about 80% of your max heart rate and then recover for 180 seconds going at a slower pace (a 1:3 work/rest ratio). Repeat this sequence 6 times for a total of 9 minutes and then cool down for the same amount of time that you warmed-up. Try this 1-3 times a week on the same piece of equipment or mix it up using, for example, a treadmill on Mon., an elliptical machine on Wed. and and erg (rowing machine) on Fri. Add this type of training int your current program once every 2-4 weeks.

You could also use a Polar heart rate device to monitor your heart rate and look at the delta between peak HR and recovery.

If you were wondering how well the test subjects did in this study over the course of 6 weeks with just 27 minutes a week of was very good! VO2 Max increased by 11% and work output increased by 4.3%.


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