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Excessive Depth Interval Coaching and Time at VO2max

TOOLBOX: Interval Coaching is well-liked in biking and plenty of different sports activities. Excessive-Depth Interval Coaching (HIIT) includes brief intervals of onerous efforts separated by low-intensity recoveries. Let’s dig deeper into how these exercises may assist your health.


Excessive depth intervals are nice for enhancing our physique’s most means to consumption and course of oxygen, which is usually abbreviated as VO2max. When mixed with sufficient restoration, excessive depth exercises are a good way to offer your health a lift. We reviewed an article a couple of months in the past that in contrast numerous high-intensity protocols.

Making excessive depth coaching environment friendly is very essential, given that almost all athletes can solely deal with 2 or 3 high-intensity classes per week. As we noticed in my earlier toolbox article, sports activities scientists proceed to research the relative significance of interval depth, length, & restoration to make HIIT coaching as efficient as doable.  On this month’s toolbox article, I wished to overview some basic high-intensity exercises and the way they’ve paved the way in which to a novel, environment friendly high-intensity protocol.

Interval Depth versus Length

In 2013, Dr. Stephen Seiler and colleagues revealed one of many main papers to advance our understanding of the position that depth & length play for enhancing efficiency (Seiler, et al., 2013). Their research in contrast high-intensity intervals of assorted lengths (4×4 min, 4×8 min, 4×16 min) to find out which intervals had been the simplest for enhancing health. Their findings concluded that spending extra time above 90percentHRmax (4×8) was simpler than spending much less time at a good larger depth (4×4 min), in addition to having a decrease session price of perceived exertion (RPE). Due to that, the authors additionally talked about that the 4×8 coaching classes supplied the “best achieve for the ache”.

For these utilizing Xert, we are able to mannequin & evaluate the effectiveness of those 3 exercises utilizing the exercise designer. Primarily based on the evaluation for every exercise, the 4×8 exercise generates extra Xert pressure rating (XSS), in comparison with the 4×4 min and 4×16 min protocols, so we may fairly anticipate that – all else being equal – the 4×8 exercise would lead to best enhancements in health over time.

Lengthy Intervals versus Brief Intervals

Seiler’s findings had been properly obtained within the biking group. In reality, you’ll nonetheless discover some variation of 4×8 min exercises in most coaching platforms, Xert included! One other novel paper that furthered our understanding of the position of depth versus length was Dr. Ronnestad’s 2016 paper, which in contrast the effectiveness of lengthy intervals to brief intervals interspersed with brief recoveries. For the lengthy intervals, they adopted Dr. Seiler’s lead and utilized a 4×8 min protocol. For the brief interval protocol, they proposed 3 units of 13 repetitions of 30 s onerous effort adopted by a 15 s restoration.

The brief interval group noticed considerably higher enhancements in efficiency in comparison with the lengthy interval group, regardless of no vital distinction in whole coaching quantity. The authors steered that the brief intervals had been a higher stimulus for VO2max, since extra time was spent at or above 90% VO2max in comparison with the lengthy intervals. This discovering corroborates the findings of Seiler, who steered that point accrued above 90% of HRmax (VO2max) is a significant coaching stimulus.

You will discover a exercise just like Ronnestad’s protocol within the Xert exercise library: SMART – A Ache That I’m Used To. This exercise supplies much more XSS than Seiler’s 4×8 exercise,  but in addition leads to a excessive issue rating. Simply as within the unique research, these 30 s onerous efforts with 15 s recoveries are to be executed by really feel. If you happen to check out this exercise for your self, use your gears and cadence to push your self all-out for 30s earlier than shifting into a better gear and pedaling simply for 15 s to recuperate earlier than the subsequent effort.

One other Case for Brief Intervals

Working with runners, Veronique Billat additionally acknowledged the significance of maximizing coaching time spent close to VO2max. Just like Ronnestad’s group, Billat leveraged brief length intervals (30 s) with equally brief recoveries to take care of their VO2 close to maximal ranges for comparatively lengthy durations. By doing this, runners had been in a position to practice above 90% VO2max for 2-3 occasions longer than a continuing tempo/effort (Billat, et al., 2000). The brief restoration intervals permit simply sufficient time for the muscle groups to recuperate from the all-out effort, however not lengthy sufficient for coronary heart price or VO2 ranges to drop earlier than starting the subsequent repetition.

SMART – Break on Via (To the Different Facet) is Xert’s tackle Billat’s 30-30 intervals. As is the case with lots of Xert’s all-out SMART exercises, this Combined Mode exercise is to be executed by really feel. For the 30-30 efforts, you have to to make use of your gears & cadence to push your self onerous for 30 s earlier than shifting into a better gear to recuperate for 30 s earlier than the subsequent onerous effort.

Placing it All Collectively

Primarily based on the analysis we’ve got reviewed up to now, it seems that the effectiveness of high-intensity coaching is usually decided by the period of time spent close to the athlete’s VO2max. If spending time at 90% VO2max is essential to enhancing our health, then we must always optimize our high-intensity coaching protocol to do two issues:

  1. Speed up the way in which during which we may attain 90percentVO2max
  2. Proceed to take care of 90% VO2max so long as doable

There are a couple of methods to handle the primary level. The primary choice, known as ‘fast-start’ intervals, begin with ~1.5 min at a better depth to speed up the VO2 response. Ronnestad’s lab confirmed that fast-start intervals resulted in larger peak & common VO2 response in skiers (Ronnestad, et al., 2019).

Above you will notice the VO2 response to high-intensity efforts in skiers. Discover how the black dots (fast-start interval) attain a excessive share of VO2max comparatively sooner than the white squares (conventional constant-power effort). Determine taken from Ronnestad, et al., 2019.

Xert has featured fast-start intervals for a number of years now! You possibly can see them in motion within the SMART – Nearer collection of exercises (instance proven above), in addition to the SMART – Gasoline exercises.

Alternatively, an extended interval can be utilized to convey HR and VO2 as much as ~90%. In observe, longer (3+ min) high-intensity intervals aren’t incessantly used for a couple of causes. Keep in mind that Seiler discovered the 4×4 min protocol was much less efficient than the 4×8 min protocol. Additional, longer efforts at a excessive depth can solely be sustained for a couple of repetitions earlier than exhaustion is reached, making it onerous for athletes to build up time > 90% VO2max.

As soon as ~90% VO2max (or ~90% HRmax) has been reached, the objective of the high-intensity session needs to be to keepthat depth so long as doable. This leads us again to the findings of Billat, who confirmed hat brief, 30 s efforts with equally brief recoveries can be utilized to take care of VO2 close to most ranges for prolonged intervals of time.

Placing these two ideas collectively leads us to the findings of Filippo Vaccari and colleagues, who proposed a Excessive Depth Reducing Interval Coaching (HIDIT) protocol (Vaccari, et al., 2020). HIDIT combines a few longer intervals to speed up the physique’s HR & VO2 response earlier than switching to shorter intervals to take care of the near-maximal effort so long as doable.

As anticipated, the HIDIT protocol resulted in considerably extra time spent >90% of VO2max when in comparison with a brief interval protocol (30 sec work with 20 sec recoveries) and lengthy interval protocol (3 min work with 2 min recoveries).

Right here you may see the HIDIT protocol proposed by Vaccari & colleagues. A 3:2 ratio of labor:restoration is used all through, beginning with a 3 min work, 2 min restoration. Every repetition steadily decreases in length till settling in at 30 s work, 20 s restoration. Energy is displayed because the strong black like and VO2 is displayed because the black dots – 90% of VO2max is displayed because the horizontal dashed line. Determine taken from Vaccari, et al., 2020.

We modeled the HIDIT strategy utilizing Xert within the SMART – Bow Down exercise. After an prolonged warmup with 4 brief, onerous intervals, this exercise makes use of two comparatively longer intervals to attract down your Most Energy Out there (MPA) and speed up the VO2 & HR response. As soon as MPA has been diminished, the exercise switches into 30-30 micro intervals to maintain HR & VO2 close to their limits. The objective is to proceed these micro-intervals so long as doable.

Closing Ideas

Most of the excessive depth protocols we reviewed at this time are designed to be (close to) maximal efforts. These exercises present a potent stimulus to your cardiovascular & respiratory methods as a result of they push you to your limits, which additionally means they are going to tax your Most Energy Out there and lead to a comparatively excessive issue rating. Many of the exercises shared above are close to a 5-diamond issue score in Xert. This implies these exercises are greatest carried out when your coaching standing is recent and you’re extremely motivated to finish a high-difficulty exercise. Doing these as soon as per week can reap some unbelievable advantages to your health! Hope you discovered this text fascinating! Keep protected, experience quick, and I’ll see you subsequent month!



Billat, V., Slawinski, J., Bocquet, V. et al. Intermittent runs on the velocity related to maximal oxygen uptake allows topics to stay at maximal oxygen uptake for an extended time than intense however submaximal runs. Eur J Appl Physiol 81, 188–196 (2000).

Rønnestad BR, Hansen J, Vegge G, Tønnessen E, Slettaløkken G. Brief intervals induce superior coaching variations in contrast with lengthy intervals in cyclists – an effort-matched strategy. Scand J Med Sci Sports activities. 2015 Apr;25(2):143-51. doi: 10.1111/sms.12165. Epub 2014 Jan 1. PMID: 24382021.

Rønnestad BR, Rømer T, Hansen J. Rising Oxygen Uptake in Effectively-Skilled Cross-Nation Skiers Throughout Work Intervals With a Quick Begin. Int J Sports activities Physiol Carry out. 2019 Oct 15:1-7. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2018-0360. Epub forward of print. PMID: 31621643.

Seiler S, Jøranson Okay, Olesen BV, Hetlelid KJ. Diversifications to cardio interval coaching: interactive results of train depth and whole work length. Scand J Med Sci Sports activities. 2013 Feb;23(1):74-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2011.01351.x. Epub 2011 Aug 3. PMID: 21812820.

Vaccari F, Giovanelli N, Lazzer S. Excessive-intensity lowering interval coaching (HIDIT) will increase time above 90% [Formula: see text]O2peak. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2020 Nov;120(11):2397-2405. doi: 10.1007/s00421-020-04463-w. Epub 2020 Aug 11. PMID: 32780251; PMCID: PMC7560936.

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