By Elliot Fisher MS, ATC, CSCS, PES
Cardiovascular exercise is important for both sport performance and health. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a method that has some greater advantages than traditional steady state cardiovascular work. HIIT uses a high intensity effort, around 90% effort or maximal effort, with intervals of lower effort to facilitate recovery.
HIIT offers some great health benefits. One benefit is insulin sensitivity.1 HIIT training uses a large quantity of muscle glycogen which leads muscles tissues to be more ready to store more carbohydrates. This increases insulin sensitivity, decreasing the risk of diabetes. Additionally, HIIT offers greater adaptations for cardiovascular health by increasing endothelial cell function.(1)
In sport and exercise, VO2Max is a very important variable. There is evidence showing that HIIT greatly increases VO2Max greater than steady state cardio.(1) However, HIIT training in addition to steady state cardio has the greatest benefit to VO2Max.
There are many ways to implement HIIT into your exercise or training routine. Basically, any form of high effort exercise followed by lower intensity effort could be considered HIIT. I tend to use a couple of intervals with clients:
10 seconds max effort/50 seconds recovery
15 seconds max effort/45 seconds recovery
30 seconds max effort/60-90 seconds recovery
30 seconds max effort/any amount of time until recovered
This can be done with pretty much any exercise. Some examples I use it with include the sled, bike, rower, squat jumps, and thrusters. Give it a try!
1. Kilpatrick, M. W., Jung, M. E., & Little, J. P. (2014). High-intensity interval training: A review of physiological and psychological responses. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 18(5), 11-16.