Following up on my earlier post on programming High Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”) I want to describe here a more advanced method for programming HIIT that allows for more metabolically targeted routines.
The key concept in basic HIIT programming is the load/recovery ratio (ie the ratio between the time an exercise is performed, and the rest period; “LRR”). The key difference between this and the advanced approach is that the latter has a “hierarchy” of load/recovery ratios, depending on the “time scale” you are looking at (if this sounds pompous, this is probably because I studied maths a long time ago, and I therefore love to throw around big conceptual words for really easy stuff).
What this means is exercises are clustered, and at the end of each cluster an extra recovery period is added, so that the short-term LRR is different from the long-term LRR. This is easiest explained with an example
The workout – a sequence of 3 kettlebell swing Tabata’s with a 90sec break in-between (a Tabata is 20sec on / 10 sec off, for 8 rounds)
Short-term LRR – 2:1 (20sec on / 10 sec off)
Long-term LRR – 1:1 (20sec*8=160s on / 10sec*7+90sec=160s)
In practice, one might usually consider two or three levels in the hierarchy. An example for a three level hierarchy is a density workout that in its generic form looks like this:
The workout – 3 sections, each of which consists of 4 supersets with 20sec work, a 10sec change-over, a 60sec break when a superset is re-started, and a 3min break between the sections
Short-term LRR – 2:1 (30sec on / 15sec off)
Medium-term LRR – 1:1 (4*30sec=120sec on / 4*15sec+60sec=120sec off)
Long-term LRR – 1:2 (3*120sec = 360sec on / 3*120sec+2*180sec = 720sec off)
So what’s the point. Firstly, so far of course this has only been a way of classifying HIIT workouts (it is of course not complete – what is missing is the absolute time spent at the various levels). So even without going further it makes sense to (a) understand what the programming variables are, and (b) varying them to prevent early adaptation.
It is however possible to tie the different LRR’s in more closely with training objectives, but this is the subject of a forthcoming post.