Home' Army News : June 20th 2013 Contents Army June 20, 2013
LT Rob Orr discusses high intensity interval training in the final part of the
three-part fitness series.
Time to HIIT it
Intensity: High intensity intermittent training, or HIIT, combines a high
output workout with a short recovery to create a high metabolic demand.
Photo by LS Helen Frank
training (HIIT) is becoming
increasingly popular in the
fitness industry due to its
claims of improved fat burning when
compared to the more traditional
HIIT came to popularity after
research in 1996 by Professor Izumi
Tabata on Olympic speedskaters.
When compared to interval train-
ing, where a short burst of 20 seconds
would be followed by a 60-second
recovery, Tabata's research reversed
this so that rest periods were shorter
than work periods.
This method, combined with using
maximal effort rather than a percent-
age of maximal effort, elicits a high
Since its development, numerous
variations have been adapted.
Rather than a 2:1 work/rest inter-
val, the original method of Professor
Martin Gibala consisted of 60-seconds
of near maximal effort with a rest of
75 seconds for up to 12 repetitions.
Gibala later released a modified
protocol designed to cover less fit
This had participants work for 60
seconds at 80-plus per cent of their
heart rate reserve (maximum heart rate
minus resting heart rate multiplied
by intensity) before resting for 60
Under Gibala's program, these
intervals were repeated 10 times.
While following initial models,
concepts like sprint interval training,
low-volume HIIT, high-volume HIIT
and active rest HIIT have emerged.
The concepts have even expanded
from metabolic conditioning to
resistance-orientated training where
the intervals are used for exercises like
push-ups and squats.
What are the benefits?
The main benefit is increased anaero-
bic effort, such as the final sprint for
a 2.4km run or the last few push-ups
when arms are shaking.
In fitter athletes, aerobic benefits
can be similar to those developed
during longer sessions (a four-minute
Tabata session versus a 25-minute
slow distance run for example). As
such the sessions are shorter for the
same training benefit.
With research suggesting that run-
ning distance and volume are strongly
associated with overuse injuries, the
reduced volume may minimise the
risk of certain types of injuries.
The training method may be more
beneficial for fat loss than long con-
HIIT places the body under very high
stress, which can translate to other
forms of musculoskeletal injuries as
well as leading to overtraining.
The shorter HIIT sessions may
not develop mental endurance to the
same extent as long, slow distance
training, which keeps the mind active
for 25 minutes during a monotonous
run compared to a short, four-minute
Many races (and fitness assess-
ments) require the completion of a
given distance. As such, neuromuscu-
lar endurance -- the ability of the nerv-
ous and muscular system to provide
long duration repeated efforts -- is just
as vital as the ability of the metabolic
What does this mean for you?
HIIT is useful but not the only tool for
improving performance required at
very high intensities.
HIIT will place the body under a
high stress demand and the health,
fitness, ability and recovery of the par-
ticipant must be considered.
Technique is the priority. If proper
technique cannot be maintained,
then speed of movement must be
As the intent is based on effort
over a given interval, enforcing good
technique when fatigued will allow
the intent to be met.
Finally, to determine the best inter-
val methodology, consult a PTI. This
will allow protocols that meet individ-
ual occupational requirements, health
and physical capability to be met.
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