High intensity interval training has been proven by recent research to have dramatic effects on exercise performance. It is remarkable because of the seemingly low volume of work required to bring about these changes.
Amazingly, a total exercise duration of just 15 minutes in a 2-week period can improve aerobic performance by 10%-20%.
This should be very exciting for anyone, but particularly those with limited time availability, or those returning from injury and looking for a quick return to fitness.
HIIT involves short bursts of all out effort; something many runners are not familiar with.
Dr John Babraj PHD, from the Division of Sport and Exercise at the University of Aberty Dundee, has carried out studies with various HIIT protocols using specialised ergometers. He has demonstrated improvements of 15% in cycling performance with sub-elite triathletes using just 10 x 6 second sprints.
Of course, such training sessions are difficult to apply on the road.
However, Dr Babraj has devised a HIIT protocol for runners to use. When tested on a group of young male rugby players, the results were significant improvements in aerobic performance — with just 6 sessions over 2 weeks.
Here’s what you can do to replicate the session.
Find a hill: gradient about 1:10.
Warm up, then run 4 x 30 second all-out sprints up the hill.
Run this 3 times a week, increasing reps every second session from 4 to 5 to 6.
You’ll need good, long recoveries of around 3 or 4 minutes to maintain quality.
If you’ve not done any sprinting for a while, we’d recommend a gradual adaptation, especially if you are of advancing years.