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One on One

High-Intensity Interval
Training: Applications for
General Fitness Training
Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS1 and Jay Dawes, MS, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D2
1
Global Fitness Services, Scarsdale, New York; and 2National Strength and Conditioning Association,
Colorado Springs, Colorado

above the lactate threshold, close to HIIT also has been shown to be
V_ O2max, and then carried out to a point superior when compared with steady-
just before the onset of volitional state training for those attempting to
fatigue. This high-intensity bout is then lose weight. While moderate-intensity
followed by a low-intensity recovery steady-state aerobic exercise (the so-
period that allows the body to buffer called fat-burning zone) results in an
and clear lactic acid from the blood, increased percentage of fat burned
thereby allowing the individual enough during a workout, total caloric expen-
time to recover and perform another diture and lipolysis (i.e., fat breakdown)
high-intensity interval.
are substantially greater in an HIIT
Paul Sorace, MS, ACSM RCEP, BENEFITS OF HIGH-INTENSITY protocol. The resulting effects on fat
CSCS*D AEROBIC INTERVAL TRAINING loss are significant. This was apparent
Column Editor Many traditional exercise training pro- in a study by Tremblay et al. (11),
grams focus on the use of steady-state
who compared 2 groups of subjects: an
aerobic activity for the purpose of
SUMMARY endurance-trained group versus an
substrate utilization. This makes sense
HIIT-trained group. Despite a signifi-
HIGH-INTENSITY AEROBIC because the longer the duration of an
activity, the greater the amount of cantly lower energy cost of the HIIT
INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT) IS A
relative percentage of calories used that workout at the end of the study (120.4
POPULAR STRATEGY FOR
come from fat storage. However, HIIT versus 57.9 MJ), participants in the
IMPROVING CARDIORESPIRATORY
confers several advantages over steady- HIIT group experienced a 9-fold
FITNESS AND HEALTH, AS WELL AS
state aerobic training. Research indi- greater reduction in skinfold thickness.
REDUCING BODY FAT LEVELS.
cates that cardiovascular adaptations Several factors appear to contribute to
THIS ARTICLE WILL EXPLORE THE
to exercise are intensity dependent, and this lipolytic advantage. For one, HIIT
BENEFITS OF HIIT AND DISCUSS
improvements in cardiovascular func- increases the bodys potential to use
ITS APPLICATION FOR FITNESS
tion via HIIT may be superior when lipids as an energy substrate to a greater
TRAINING. compared with more traditional train- extent than steady-state aerobic exer-
ing protocols (6,12). HIIT has shown cise, with an increased upregulation of
greater improvements in V_ O2max, en- enzymes responsible for beta-oxidation
igh-intensity aerobic interval dothelial function, blood pressure,

H training (HIIT) is a popular


strategy for improving cardio-
respiratory fitness and health, as well as
cardiac contractility, insulin signaling,
and contraction coupling when com-
pared with moderate-intensity aerobic
(11). There also is an increased growth
hormone response attributed to HIIT,
likely mediated through the significant
reducing body fat levels. A standard exercise (5,6,10). This has important lactate accumulation associated with
HIIT protocol involves alternating implications not only for possibly this type of training (4). In addition,
bouts of both high- and low-intensity preventing the onset of cardiovascular HIIT heightens the extent of excess
exercise to increase the amount of disease but also in potentially reversing postexercise oxygen consumption (also
high-intensity work performed during the risk of certain comorbidities for known as the afterburn), which has
an acute bout of training. High-inten- those suffering from cardiac and met- been shown to be positively correlated
sity intervals are typically performed abolic disorders. with exercise intensity (1).

44 VOLUME 31 | NUMBER 6 | DECEMBER 2009 Copyright National Strength and Conditioning Association
Table ratio of 1:1 (7). These recommenda- context of his/her current fitness pro-
Thirty-minute sample HIIT tions, however, are based on athletic gram as a whole.
routine populations. For the general popula-
tion, a variety of W:R ratios can be
Interval, min RPE (scale of 110) employed in an HIIT routine. A 1:2 Brad Schoenfeld is president of
3 (warm-up) 3 W:R ratio, for instance, has been Global Fitness Services in Scarsdale,
shown to produce favorable responses New York.
4 5
that enhance both aerobic and anaer-
1 7 obic energy system development (8).
Jay Dawes is the Education Director
For those who are less fit, a 1:4 W:R
3 5 for the National Strength and Condition-
ratio would probably be more appro-
ing Association in Colorado Springs,
1 8 priate, allowing acclimation into a more
Colorado.
1 5
intense HIIT routine. W:R ratios can
be varied throughout the course of
1 9 a workout based on individual fitness
1 5 levels (see sample routine in the Table).
REFERENCES
Because of the intense nature of the
1 9 1. Bahr R and Sejersted OM. Effect of
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2 5 ger periods of sustained interval train- 3. Gibala MJ and McGee SL. Metabolic
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1 8
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function and stimulate greater weight exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol
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HIIT over a 2-week period for a total of cardiovascular disorders. It is impor- metabolic syndrome of rats artificially
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fatty acid oxidation during exercise in steady-state aerobic training. However, 7. Reuter BH and Hagerman PS. Essentials
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PERFORMANCE ISSUES mented resistance training. It is there-
and Matsuo A. Physiological responses to
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Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-lift.org 45


One on One

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46 VOLUME 31 | NUMBER 6 | DECEMBER 2009