/ Cardio-vascular improvement via hi-intensity training intervals

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Douglas Griffin - on 25 Mar 2013
Interesting article on The Guardian running blog today:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/mar/25/tabata-harder-faster-fitter-quicker
"...His research followed extensive monitoring of Japan's speed skating team in the early 1990s when he – along with the team's coach Irisawa Koichi – noticed that short bursts of brutally hard exercise seemed to be at least as effective as hours of moderate training."

Bjartur i Sumarhus on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: Im sure there was a horizon (or similar) documentary on something like this about a year ago. Basically, a few minutes of extremely high intense exercise has the same benefits hours of normal exercise.

Someone on here will probably remeber which program it was
Voltemands - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Bjartur í Sumarhús: Yep, Horizon. They repeated it about 3 weeks ago.
Douglas Griffin - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Bjartur í Sumarhús:

I think it was called "The Truth About Exercise" (it's mentioned in some of the comments the article). I didn't see it so can't comment any further.
Slugain Howff - on 25 Mar 2013
martinph78 on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: It's nothing new. It only seems to make press whenever there's a book/program/headline required though.

DancingOnRock - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: Short bursts of high intensity exercise have different aims to long periods of moderate exercise. They don't have the same outcome other than burning the same number of calories.

Running a mile in 4minutes uses the same number of calories as walking the mile in 20minutes.
Douglas Griffin - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> Running a mile in 4minutes uses the same number of calories as walking the mile in 20minutes.

Obviously. But (equally obviously) you don't stop burning calories once you've finished running the mile, so over the 20 minutes you'll burn more calories doing the former. That's not even considering things like metabolic rate.
DancingOnRock - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: You don't stop burning them after walking the mile either. However, you're not going to be running another 4min mile that day. You can continue to walk 20min miles for several hours.

It depends what you want to achieve.

Cardio vascular system is complex. If you want to raise your VO2 max you need to do high intensity, if you want to raise your Lactate Threshold you need to long higher intensity runs, etc. Different exercises have different aims.

Douglas Griffin - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> You don't stop burning them after walking the mile either.

No, of course you don't. But you burn more from having run the mile, by virtue of having done it quicker.

Running a mile in 4 minutes and then doing nothing for 16 minutes burns more calories than walking the mile in 20 minutes.

Why are we even discussing this?
The New NickB - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Bjartur í Sumarhús:
> (In reply to Douglas Griffin) Im sure there was a horizon (or similar) documentary on something like this about a year ago. Basically, a few minutes of extremely high intense exercise has the same benefits hours of normal exercise.
>
I am not sure the same benefits is the right term here, from a training perspective different levels of intensity and duration achieve different outcomes, the mix should be governed by the outcomes you want.
DancingOnRock - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:
> (In reply to DancingOnRock)
>
> [...]
>
> No, of course you don't. But you burn more from having run the mile, by virtue of having done it quicker.
>
> Running a mile in 4 minutes and then doing nothing for 16 minutes burns more calories than walking the mile in 20 minutes.
>
> Why are we even discussing this?

No idea. You posted the link.

Maybe they should title it; Interval Training Works Shock!

Douglas Griffin - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> No idea. You posted the link.

I posted a link, yes. You're the one who brought the 4-minute mile v 20-minute mile thing into it.

Christ, next time I won't bother!

saz_b - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

Interesting!

"Tabata Protocol" has been around for a little while I think, Eric Horst mentions it in his book Training For Climbing. Also http://www.tabataprotocol.com/

Have used this interval training before and had good results for cycling AND climbing circuit board (when training power endurance), where 2 mins on board is met with 1 min rest. I don't think the latter has been fully tested as the energy mechanisms between 20 secs on/10 sec rest are different from 2mins on/1 off, but I'm only speaking from my personal experience.
DancingOnRock - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:
> (In reply to DancingOnRock)
>
> [...]
>
> I posted a link, yes. You're the one who brought the 4-minute mile v 20-minute mile thing into it.
>

No. Someone linked to the Horizon program.

Hi-intensity intervals are not new. The Royal Marines were doing it in the 50s. I was certainly doing it in the 80s. We called it circuit training back then and we didn't do circuit training to lose weight, we did it to get fit for our sport, Rugby, Squash, or Climbing. Then later in the 80s people started doing Aerobics and now they do Spin classes. It's all the same just under different guises.

What this guy seems to have done is a 'controlled' experiment to determine whether hi-intensity training intervals get you fitter for a sport that requires hi-intensity bursts of exercise than cycling or running on a machine for a long time does.

Pseudo science again. What rate were the 'controls' working at. I assume they were cycling at LT for an hour a day. Which is pretty pointless for increasing VO2 max and of limited benefit for improving LT. If it was slower then what was he expecting to see.

I don't get it.
pork pie girl - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: i would say that is certainly true for cycling
lost1977 - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

tabata has been common for years but is unfortunately misused by a large percentage of users (ok maybe not misused but certainly not done in the most effective way)
Liam M - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock: I think you've misunderstood the claims Tabata makes. He looks at the value of short maximal intervals not only for improving VO2 max and high intensity activities, but also at improving the capacity for lower intensity sustained efforts.
It's questioning the idea that low intensity sustained efforts are necessary and optimal for developing endurance, and he claims evidence that it is more effectively achieved through a series of maximal intervals.

I expect the original work has more detail than is included in the above article.

I'm also not sure I've ever seen anyone do circuits or aerobics sessions at the intensity he advocates; I think most gyms may take issue with the amount of vomit it would result in!
parkovski - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:

"Running a mile in 4minutes uses the same number of calories as walking the mile in 20minutes."

I know it's pedantic, but this suggests that a person converts energy with exactly the same efficiency no matter what their speed. I don't think you'll need to actually start calculating reynolds numbers to realise that air resistance might play a part here. You might also have heard about different respiration pathways depending on the availability of oxygen. I'm not a biomechanic, but I suspect that the two gaits suffer differing mechanical efficiencies too.
Steff - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

Yes, this is not new. IMO a programme like this can be seen as a shortcut by many people. However, raising your VO2max is only a small part of training. Long distance running requires many more things, not just a strong cardio vascular performance. You also need to practise efficiency of stride, i.e. coordinating a very large number of precise muscle movements, make you bones and tendons strong for impact, learn to suffer and many other adaptations. For almost any sport you will find issues such as these, so improving cardio-vascular performance fast in this way, is entirely pointless (unless you just want a strong heart to sit with on the sofa for the rest of the day)

IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Steff: Agree. I just don't get it at all..

Aye it can.. but even a 5k specialist like Farrah bangs out 130 mile weeks..

Show me a 2:02/2:05 marathoner who opts for this method and I'll give it a second thought.. :-)
DancingOnRock - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Liam M:
> (In reply to DancingOnRock) I think you've misunderstood the claims Tabata makes. He looks at the value of short maximal intervals not only for improving VO2 max and high intensity activities, but also at improving the capacity for lower intensity sustained efforts.
> It's questioning the idea that low intensity sustained efforts are necessary and optimal for developing endurance, and he claims evidence that it is more effectively achieved through a series of maximal intervals.
>
> I expect the original work has more detail than is included in the above article.
>
> I'm also not sure I've ever seen anyone do circuits or aerobics sessions at the intensity he advocates; I think most gyms may take issue with the amount of vomit it would result in!

We certainly did during rugby training sessions. Maybe we didn't know the science behind it but it certainly made us fit. Certainly doing hill sprints properly will leave you close to death.

Of course if your heart is bigger due to stressing it by doing maximal efforts then it will perform better at lower intensities as well.

The whole issue I have is with the 'exercise industry' and sports science. This guy is obviously selling DVDs etc off the back of what he has 'discovered' just by calling it something else. And he is right as people need a trainer to push them to their limits because they nowadays everyone seems to need to be spoon fed on how to exercise.
SteveRi - on 26 Mar 2013
Tabata protocol is different to just 'intervals' (and there's all kinds of 'intervals'). It's a specific protocol of hard efforts 20s on/10s off. About the most effort you can sustain for 20s, then just enough recovery to be able to go again after 10s. The HIIT idea is attractive to averagely fit people - get all my exercise done in a few minutes a week type of thing, and they will see benefits, which is great of course but they'll rarely be following Tabata. Its not the kind of effort that's attractive to averagely fit people. But if you're already some kind of endurance athlete you shouldn't expect to suddenly be able to chuck away 80% of your training.
DancingOnRock - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to SteveRi: Quite. How safe is it? There were scare stories in the press about endurance athletes with abnormally enlarged hearts. According to the article he saw increases in heart sizes in just 3 weeks.
lost1977 - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:

enlarged hearts are the norm for endurance athletes
mloskot - on 09 May 2013
"Is CrossFit good training for climbing?

My first reaction to this question was "you can't be serious," (...)
Adding high-intensity exercise of a different sort, whether it be CrossFit, running, or cutting firewood will only pull from an athlete's training reserves, reserves that must be focused completely on hard climbing when hard climbing is the goal."

http://www.climbstrong.com/articles/20130110
steveej - on 09 May 2013
In reply to mloskot:

it all depends what type of climbing.

The last 6 months I have been training for a trip to Alaska which has been broadly the following:

2 or 3 runs a week, Long slow distance, tempo and hill intervalls.

2 crossfit sessions a week

load carries a few times week (which are now over 100lb) and sledge pulling on Sundays.

The crossfit has definately helped me get a strong back and core and strong legs for humping heavy loads and plodding up non technical ground. I also believe it has helped speed up my recovery time.

Last saturday I did the welsh 3000's in 13 hours including getting to the start and off the finish in the same day. The following day my energy levels were low but my legs were barely sore - in years gone by they would have been in absolute bits.

So it all depends what your goals are. If you goal is to onsight 7B+, then you would be better off spedning 5 nights a week in the climbing wall and going on a diet. But for alpine/expedition climbing you need to train differently. Again its all about specifity but for it to be specific you first need to define a goal.
dmhigg - on 09 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK: I have a friend who is a very good age group hill runner, and competitive cyclist. He was part of the study that Dundee University did on this, and he reported significant, measurable gains after two weeks on a hiit only training regime (bearing in mind he is already very fit).

However..this is not interval training; he was talking about collapsing when he got off the bike after his last effort, and having to lie curled up in pain on the ground for a disturbing amount of time. Since this was his only exercise, he missed long steady runs, and dreaded the intense pain this incredibly short session was going to bring.

If you want to have a go, you will need an exercise bike or turbo trainer, and probably someone standing nearby. Do a 20 min. steady warm up, then crank up the resistance and pedal at your absolute eye popping max for 30s. Give yourself a 2min. rest then repeat two more times. You should now be in a state of some distress. Go steady for five minutes then repeat. I have to emphasise that your efforts are not controlled exertion: release the inner caveperson from the start and hang on. If you don't go hard enough, it's just an interval session. You'll need a warm down, but you might not want one.

I don't think it would be possible to achieve the necessary exertion running. But I'd be interested to hear of someone trying.
mloskot - on 10 May 2013
In reply to steveej:
> (In reply to mloskot)
>
> it all depends what type of climbing.

Sure. The word "climbing" nowadays is as precise as the word "activity" :)
tony on 10 May 2013
In reply to dmhigg:
> (In reply to IainRUK) I have a friend who is a very good age group hill runner, and competitive cyclist. He was part of the study that Dundee University did on this, and he reported significant, measurable gains after two weeks on a hiit only training regime (bearing in mind he is already very fit).
>
> However..this is not interval training; he was talking about collapsing when he got off the bike after his last effort, and having to lie curled up in pain on the ground for a disturbing amount of time. Since this was his only exercise, he missed long steady runs, and dreaded the intense pain this incredibly short session was going to bring.
>
This chap's name isn't Will, by any chance? I have a friend who was in the Dundee study who fits your description. One other thing to note is that he's capable of pushing himself much much harder than many people, and will maintain a high intensity for longer than most.

I wonder if there's something possibly self-selecting about people for whom HIT training works, if their thresholds are higher than average.

Must go for a slow plod now ...
ads.ukclimbing.com
wbo - on 10 May 2013
In reply to dmhigg: That's remarkably similar to a method to get max heart rate running, which is 3 longish hills at full tilt, 5mins recovery. You should not be completing the third one, but stopping to puke, and measure.
wbo - on 10 May 2013
In reply to Tony - thresholds change, with training, and so do pain levels and tolerance..
dmhigg - on 10 May 2013
In reply to tony: Ah ha! Certainly was. Couldn't agree more about self selection. The Horizon programme was talking about some people being physiologically more suited to this training, but I'm sure that if you can't go far enough into the cabinet of pain, you're not going to feel the benefit.
George Ormerod - on 10 May 2013
In reply to dmhigg:
>
> I don't think it would be possible to achieve the necessary exertion running. But I'd be interested to hear of someone trying.

You are joking right? Have you tried hill reps? In fact the max hr running is normally higher than on a bike.

dmhigg - on 11 May 2013
In reply to George Ormerod: Yes. Yes I have. Still do them, and have been for about 30 years. I find the support offered by the bike (turbo, not rollers!) makes it possible to dig deeper in the 30 second blast without simply falling over, and I think it would be difficult to replicate the resistance. I'm not sure that it is simply the heart rate which is the issue here.

In a running context maybe you'd be better off doing a 30sec max sprint dragging a tractor tyre than a 150m steep hill.
dmhigg - on 11 May 2013
In reply to dmhigg: ....and on the bike you're mashing, so lots of arm and upper body in a frenzied style which would horrify most cyclists, but a lot more muscle use than normal cycling or running.
nw - on 11 May 2013
In reply to George Ormerod:
> (In reply to dmhigg)
> [...]
>
> You are joking right? Have you tried hill reps? In fact the max hr running is normally higher than on a bike.

I disagree, Tabata work best (only?) when you can go from 0-10 (10 being all out) pretty much instantly. The first few seconds of hill reps for me are spent accelerating. Ergo, heavy bag, bike all seem to work better. People do them on a treadmill by hopping off with it still running, but I haven't tried that.

ice.solo - on 11 May 2013
In reply to nw:

for sure tabatas on a treadmill are ideal. need one with the right hand rails on it tho.
JayPee630 - on 11 May 2013
In reply to nw:

I've found sprints one of the hardest Tabata session going. I start by running for a distance as fast as possible in 20 seconds and then using that as the measure by trying to match it every 20 second session shuttling from one end to the other.

It's horribly horribly hard.
nw - on 11 May 2013
In reply to JayPee630:

I'm sure it's hard, and effective, but I still think you're losing something at the beginning of each shuttle. If I was to do sprint Tabata's not on a treadmill I'd get on a track or suitable road and use a Gymboss timer, jogging the 'rest' intervals so that you don't have that initial inertia to overcome before you are really pumping.
@ice.solo- I need more caffeine. Read your post and spent several seconds trying to envisage a treadmill that only had hand rails on the right hand side :-)
TheDrunkenBakers - on 11 May 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: Didnt Andrew Marr nearly kill himself doing HIT?

JayPee630 - on 11 May 2013
In reply to nw:

Good and fair point, thanks - although I'm not sure I want to make them any harder! I don't actually do them TBH, am concentrating on Crossfit ATM rather than running.
dmhigg - on 11 May 2013
In reply to JayPee630: So who's going to do both, and make a comparison? Not me. My days of explosive sprint running are long gone (if they ever existed).
nw - on 11 May 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
Haha yeah me neither. I'm trying to get some respectable numbers on squats which are something I struggled with so I'm saving my legs for those. Just doing Tabata boxing atm and will reintroduce a bit of running once my squats are where I want them. Where are you doing Xfit? All the online stuff I have seen is in the US, is it a bit less OTT here?
nw - on 11 May 2013
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:
> (In reply to Douglas Griffin) Didnt Andrew Marr nearly kill himself doing HIT?
Cover story, vigorously boffing his secretary I reckon. HIS.

JayPee630 - on 11 May 2013
In reply to nw:

My experience of Crossfit is that not surprisingly quality varies wildly from place to place. I've trained at about 6 venues in all; one in Australia for 3 months, three in the USA - 2 for a handful of classes and then the third for a month, and then one on and off for a year in the UK (the off was due to being away and also a few months off for injury.

I've been to 2 out of that lot (one in Australia and the one I now train at in the UK) that I would rate as excellent, and they tend to set their own programs and WOD rather than follow the US schedule (which I agree sometimes seems a bit much) and is excellent, with first class coaching and facilities.

I do have criticisms of it, as of course do loads of people, but the one I'm at now has none of those issues really (apart from a touch of the cult/ready-made social scene thing) and I'm laying off the running and committing to giving it a good try until the end of the summer and see how it goes.
nw - on 11 May 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
Yeah my impression is that if you apply a bit of commonsense to it and think for yourself then it can be a good vehicle, and a lot of them seem to have really good resources. A lot of the criticism is backlash to perceived arrogance by people who have never actually done it. I still don't fancy heavy reps for time though!
JayPee630 - on 11 May 2013
In reply to nw:

Yes, and I think that's one of the very valid criticisms of it; that it encourages complex and technical moves (like Olympic lifts) with heavy weight at speed, and often to people that have very little experience or ability, and so risks injury and encourages bad form.

I'm lucky to have found an excellent CFT place and bunch of coaches that run their workouts in 2 sections, first an a-at-your-own-speed strength session where you encouraged to scale it to your ability, and then a met-con faster/timed section with lighter weights/bodyweight/runs/gymnastics.

Ian Black - on 11 May 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin: It is what it is! Short HI bursts on it's own won't prepare you for an Ironman etc. However I can see the appeal for the weak minded that don't want to or don't have the time to put the effort in for prolonged periods.
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 11 May 2013
In reply to Douglas Griffin:

My understanding of Tabata intervals was that they are impossible to do properly without specialist equipment. The original experiment was conducted on a special ergo bike with your VO2 Max pushed to over 100% or something.
nw - on 11 May 2013
In reply to Sebastian Fontleroy:
Erm...am I being dense or does that not compute...
mloskot - on 12 May 2013
Not directly related to the posed question, but it looks there are big wall climbers among CrossFitters as per photos in this CrossFit Journal, "Zone on the Rocks" article:

http://www.crossfit.com/cf-journal/CFJ63-Nov07-tag7gabk.pdf
steveej - on 12 May 2013
In reply to mloskot: well i've done 6 walls and I do crossfit. I really rate it. but as others have said it depends on whether you are lucky enough to find as good one. and also for endurance stuff you still need to train in the lower heart rate zones. I see it as part of my training reigeme not a regieme by itself.
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 13 May 2013
In reply to nw:

Sorry i was working off memory, here's a link explaining what i meant. It's pretty hard to recreate the original experiment without specialist equipment.


http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/the-tabata-myth/



nw - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Sebastian Fontleroy:
Cheers. Interesting read and comments.
cb_6 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Ian Black: I wouldn't say that Tabata sprints, 10 sets of burpees or 4 rounds of a barbell complex with 1/3 of your bodyweight is for anyone you could consider 'weak minded' (and for the record, I do steady cardio as well as HIIT). When done properly, HIIT breaks you physically and mentally, leaving you collapsed on the floor in a puddle of your own sweat feeling like your heart is about to explode from your chest.

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