Taking a HIT

You can read my article in yesterday’s Guardian here about high-intensity interval training (HIT) and the remarkable effects it has shown in not just healthy fit subjects but also overweight, sedentary and diabetic ones.

Below is the advice I got from Professor Jamie Timmons regarding how to apply HIT in the ‘real world’ in two distinct scenarios. There wasn’t space to include this in the Guardian feature:

Joe is 45, sedentary and a bit overweight. He wants to get fit but can’t really be bothered to put the time and effort in.
Timmons recommends Joe starts with the slightly modified HIT protocol, aiming for 5 x 1 minute bouts of cycling (or another activity) at 90% of his maximum heart rate with 1-minute recovery between each effort – so 10 minutes in total. ‘Over time he can move towards the traditional protocol of 20-second maximal sprints,’ he says.
Timmons also advises abstaining from eating, and only drinking water for the hour following HIT training. ‘We think it may reduce training responses if you eat immediately afterwards,’ he explains. ‘It’s related to the insulin response, and perhaps even aerobic adaptation.’

Mary is a 35 year old keen runner and cyclist who will leave no stone unturned in her quest to improve.
Timmons says Mary can immediately start the 3×20-second all-out effort, 3x week protocol. ‘In fact, she may have done similar sprint training at her running club. Assuming she does HIT on a Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday she should do her regular running 2-3 times a week.’
 Again, she should avoid eating for an hour after HIT training but ensure she eats carbohydrate after her regular training sessions.

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