HIIT Hard and Don't Give Up

HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training. The concept behind this training method is to have bursts of high intensity training with minimal rest periods. While your average powerlifter may have a 1:8 Work rest ratio; that is 30 seconds of lifting and 4 minutes of resting. While HIIT implements Work Rest Ratios of 1:3, 1:2, 1:1, and my favorite 2:1; that is 20 seconds of hard work for 10 seconds of rest. The idea behind it was a faster workout, with hopefully better results than running for hours. Crossfit, "boot camp training", and several other training styles are based off of this. I myself use it when training my athletes for conditioning purposes. I even use it when i teach group classes to the 40+ crowd. When training i simply say 2 to 1 and i can hear the groans, and they know whats about happen.

Studies behind HIIT:

The metabolic and physiological responses to different exercise to rest ratios (E:R) (2:1, 1:1, 1:2) of eight subjects exercising at work rates approximately 10% above and below maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) were assessed. Each of the six protocols consisted of 15 1-min-long E:R intervals. Total work (kJ), oxygen uptake (VO2), heart rate (fc) and plasma lactate concentrations were monitored. With increases in either E:R or work rate, VO2 and heart rate (fc) increased. The average (15 min) VO2 and fc ranged from 40 to 81%, and from 62 to 91% of maximum, respectively. Plasma lactate concentrations nearly doubled at each E:R when work rate was increased from 90 to 110% of VO2max. The 2:1-110 protocol elicited plasma lactate concentrations which were approximately 15 times greater than that of rest. These data suggest that plasma lactate concentrations during intermittent exercise are very sensitive to both work rate and exercise duration. [1]

The conclusion to this study was that an increase in plasma lactate concentration was due to running through ATP resynthesis ["lactic Acid" is a byproduct of ATP resynthesis and is used as a resource for resynthisizing ATP again]. Therefore more ATP/energy was expended at higher rates of E:R and therefore "more work" was done [that is the theory at least]. So the harder the work the greater plasma lactate and the more energy "burnt."

The next question is how well do muscles respond to this form of training if they in fact burn through energy at a faster rate [plasma lactate]. 

This study examines the effect of high-intensity interval training on the spatial distribution of muscle deoxygenation [oxygen pulled from muscle source] during incremental exercise. Young untrained male adults performed an incremental bicycle exercise before and after a running HIT of 6 weeks. Muscle deoxygenation (HHb) and blood volume (Hb(tot)) were monitored continuously by near-infrared spectroscopy at eight sites in the vastus lateralis. The rise in HHb(muscle deoxygenation) during incremental exercise was significantly higher after training, in comparison with before training. After training, the standard deviation of HHb(muscle deoxygenation) was greater at 60, 70, and 80 % than at rest. Finally, training significantly increased the standard deviation of Hb(tot). These results indicate that HIT changes the muscle deoxygenation profile during incremental exercise, suggesting an improvement in the O(2) extraction with training. [2]

HIIT training not only causes faster use of ATP but also increases the muscles ability to process and absorb Oxygen. Not only in well trained athletes but also [as the study shows] in UNTRAINED individuals. Suggesting that if the mentality is there, jumping into this training protocol [even a 2:1 E:R] will show faster results.

So the next time you think about doing cardio why not step into the gym and pound out some HIIT training for faster results.

  1. D L Ballor, A J Volovsek. (1992) Effect of exercise to rest ratio on plasma lactate concentration at work rates above and below maximum oxygen uptake. Retrieved. http://www.mendeley.com/research/effect-exercise-rest-ratio-plasma-lactate-concentration-work-rates-above-below-maximum-oxygen-uptake/. (pubmed) Volume: 65Issue: 4Pages: 365-369
  2. Prieur FMucci P. (Jun 2012) Effect of high-intensity interval training on the profile of muscle deoxygenation heterogeneity during incremental exerciseRetrievedhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22677918. (pubmed) 

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.