Long Runs or Intervals?

For the last few years everyone has been joining the band wagon of interval training, but why? At first it seems like the concept of getting a break during my workout is a dream come true, but you’ll quickly realise that interval training when done properly is far more taxing, both mentally and physically.

High Intensity Intermittent Training (HIIT) is one on many buzz words that is thrown around the fitness industry. Put simply it’s the concept of repeated efforts with some sort of rest in-between. Whether that rest involves some form of exercise at a lower intensity (active recovery) or remaining still (passive recovery) depends on numerous factors. The length of that rest also depends on what you’re aiming to get out of the sessions.

A simple measure of intensity that we use is a work to rest ratio (W:R). Put simply 1 minute of running followed by 1 minute of walking = 1:1 W:R.
For the average healthy adult we should be aiming for 3:1 or 2:1. So 45sec effort:15 sec rest, or 40:20, any less and you’re just not going to work hard enough. 5 minutes at that sort of intensity followed by a 2 minute break , repeated 3 times will be a pretty taxing workout.
Why is it better?
This method relies on you increasing the intensity to a point where you’re challenged to complete each effort. If you can do this you’ll increase your heart rate and ventilation (breathing rate) far beyond the intensity that you would have reached going for a normal jog. The idea with the short rests is that you have a brief chance to recover, but in that amount of time your heart rate and ventilation aren’t going to decrease much at all. Meaning that at the end of the workout,  your average HR will be far higher than what it would have been going for a steady run, because of the many spikes that occurred throughout the work out. 

What should I do?
1. 40 seconds effort/ 20 seconds rest on a rower x5, 2 mins break and repeat X3 – total time 19 mins

2. 3 min run/ 1 min walk x 5 – 20 mins

3. 45 sec bike sprint/ 15 sec easy pedalon a bikex5, 2 mins break repeat X3 -  19 mins

Sam Batterton