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The Importance of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Trinity Sport Fitness Instructor Mark McGauran outlines the importance of HIIT

Published: May 6th, 2020, 15:00hrs

Okay, so the gym is closed, and you need a quick workout that will help you stay fit, HIIT (High-intensity interval training) is a great solution. Not only are sprint workouts fast and furious, but they ease stress, boost mood, maintain muscle mass and give your metabolism a lift.

HIIT is a powerful tool that gives you back considerably more time in terms of body composition changes than the effort required. On the other hand, steady-state cardio makes the body as efficient as possible so that you will use the least amount of energy to perform the greatest amount of work. It's very metabolically efficient, which is not our goal when you want to lose fat and build muscle.

When it comes to HIIT workouts, you have tons of options. You can do them on the road, run hills or on a stationary bike if you are lucky enough to have one! The key is to intersperse intense effort with active rest.

The following are traditional protocols followed by variations for when you don’t have access to the usual equipment:

1. The 1:1 Work-To-Rest Protocol: 20 mins of intervals with a 1:1 work-active-rest protocol, such as 10 secs sprints (somewhat hard pace) alternated with 60 secs active rest.

No equipment adaption: Although traditionally done on a stationary bike, you can run on hill running or do it on a road bike. Once your fitness improves, you can shorten the recovery time to 30 secs.

Best for: Novices who want to build up to working at maximum effort.

2. The 8:12 protocol: 8-second maximal effort sprints on a bike interspersed with 12 secs active rest.

No equipment adaption: This protocol can be adapted to a road bike by finding a bike path or a road with a bike lane and little traffic. Try timing your sprints to the telephone poles! For example, give an intense effort for the time it takes you to pass two telephone poles and then recover to the next pole, repeating for twenty minutes.

Best for: Novices but can be used by more advanced trainees by adjusting the distance or intensity.

3. The Wingap Protocol: 30-secs maximal effort sprints on a bike or hill running interspersed with 3-4 minutes of active rest. Repeat 4-7 times

No equipment adaption: The Wingate protocol calls for a bit more precision than sprinting between telephone poles, so the best bet is to rig up a timer to your handlebars and time your effort that way.

Best for: Experienced trainees or anyone who knows how to push themselves