We have talked many times about the benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and how it allows for real leaps and bounds in athletic training. Basically – generalizing – intervals are part of this category of workouts that alternate high-intensity work with moments of rest.
The benefit is simple: they teach our bodies to adapt to faster rhythms and for longer. The benefit, inevitably, is an improvement in VO2max and power. In other words, we improve both performance-wise and metabolically.
But how to put HIIT into practice to achieve improvements in the shortest possible time, thus increase the efficiency of our power and VO2max workouts?
We are helped by a very interesting article that came out in TrainingPeaks.
To improve VO2max, the shortest path is to try to spend as much time as possible close to 100% of our VO2max.
In fact, according to some research done on cycling but also adaptable to running, it has been found that micro-burst intervals are the fastest way to reach our goal. In fact, from a comparison with a workout with 5′ repetitions at 100% VO2max with 4′ of recovery, it was noticed that there he was doing 30″ repetitions at 100% with 30″ at 50% he was able to hold maximum effort for twice as long as those who did longer repetitions.
The goal is muscle activation
Research has shown that the amount of gene transcription for the creation of new mitochondria is proportional to the amount of muscle activation during a workout.
Increased muscle activation means your muscles will be prepared to sustain higher powers/speeds. HIIT workouts are very effective because you can improve both aerobic capacity and muscles at the same time.
When we train with the aim of improving VO2max and power, the goal will be to do as much work as possible at the maxima we can express. But mind you, these are not real repetitions because, as I told you, the goal is to stay as close as possible to our VO2max value for as long as possible. Otherwise we would be in the realm of short intervals that do not give much benefit to aerobic capacity.
But beware: these are not easy jobs to do, and as they bring great benefits, they greatly increase the load. Micro-burst intervals should be done only at certain times of the year when, precisely, we will have to work on improvement rather than in preparation for competitions.
Like the months ahead of us now.