/ Questions about HIIT

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Paul Sagar 12 Feb 2020

Questions for those in the sports science know:

part of my current training programme involves working anaerobic capacity, for which I do:

3 x a hard 8 move steep boulder problem, 6 times, with 5 minute rests between sets. 

Aim is to power out not pump out

takes me about 90 seconds to do each x3 set

1) Does this function as Hi Intensity Interval Training?

2) is there any robust evidence that HIIT is especially beneficial or is it just the latest fashion hype thing with not particular advantages?

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Jezz0r 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I'm no expert and I'm interested to hear everyone else's responses, but from my experience of HIIT within rowing training:

1) High Intensity normally refers to the aerobic work, where I expect to be at near maximum effort (whole body in pain, desperate to stop, can't breathe properly after the 3rd or 4th interval, heart rate at maximum, ~200bpm, by the end) for 30s-2mins intervals. So  I suspect your workout does not fit that, but I don't know.

2) I think there is a lot of good evidence that HIIT is effective for improving fitness and burning fat (but not gaining strength IIRC) when performed properly. A lot of the criticism is that for the average gym goer, it's very difficult to work at the near-max effort required repeatedly to make it effective. So it may be more useful for trained athletes than for the average person, for whom longer, lower intensity exercise is easier to maintain

Post edited at 17:43
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Paul Sagar 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Jezz0r:

That makes sense! Yes, at the end of the reps I just feel like I can’t pull on to the problem again, but I could probably run at a decent pace no problem. So likely not HIIT. Interesting 

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Wyn 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

The principle has been around for a while in respect to training aerobic systems. Just look up Tabata Protocols.  As Jezz states though, it's very hard when done correctly. Can't see how it can really apply to climbing, in it's purest form.

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Jezz0r 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Just because it's not HIIT doesn't mean it isn't a useful workout, of course

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Fishmate 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Wyn:

Interval training definitely existed in the 1970's. It is not a new phenomenon by any stretch. As to whether many people are actually doing HIIT is a different matter. As Jezz0r aludes to, you do need a certain base condition which I imagine to be beyond the average gym user, fitness class attendee.

I did it for cycle racing in the 80's at elite level. It f*cks you good and proper. I second Jezz0r again in that a workout involving HR spikes can definitely be beneficial.

Your HR would be too high for useful fat burning, I think. Happy to be corrected on that.

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MischaHY 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Putting aside the HIIT topic for a moment, if you're really trying to specialise Ancap I'd suggest increasing the difficulty, reducing the work time and increasing the rest time between boulders.

Adapting your current session, this would take the following form: 

Define three 6-8 move problems which are a little harder than flash grade, and pre-practice so you have them wired. 

Complete one lap of each boulder with a 60 second rest between each lap. 

Complete 6 sets of 3 laps, resting 3 minutes between sets. You should find yourself failing on the last lap of the 4-6th sets.

If you complete all the reps, increase the difficulty next session either by defining new boulders, or by adding 1-2KG with a weight vest. Don't add more than around 4KG with the vest as it will start to negatively affect your movement efficiency. 

I've found this session to be very effective for improving ancap. What you're currently doing sounds more like aeropow which is great for sharpening up your route climbing power endurance but won't lead to good gains in ancap because the aerobic element is too high. 90 seconds of work is too much for ancap which should peak out around 45s of continuous work IMO, ideally a bit less. 

For aeropow though I'd recommend ideally a bit less rest and a little more work. My favourite for this is 4x4x4. 

This comprises the following:

4 boulders, 2 grades below flash, 5-7 moves. Complete one lap of each boulder with no rest between, just a quick chalk up and back on the wall. 

Complete 4 sets of 4 reps, resting one minute between sets. 

Complete the above workload 4 times to make for 4 super-sets hence 4x4x4. Rest 4 minutes between super-sets. You'll do approximately 64 reps and feel VERY pumped! Works like a charm though. Also great for conditioning skin for big days on the rock.

Hope this helps. 

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Paul Sagar 13 Feb 2020
In reply to MischaHY:

Cheers - the problem I’m having is finding boulder problems at the right level of difficulty. The woody is just too steep and hard for me to do 3 reps; I’ve been doing the first 8 moves of a very overhung V4 instead, but as you say that may be shading in to aerobic power rather than anaerobic capacity if I’m on for too long (although I am powering out, and last night was failing on rep 2 of set 6 for lack of power rather than pump).

will try and find 8 moves with smaller holds that is less overhung to try and maximise anaerobic focus - but it’s tough because boulder problems are set by the setters to be fun interesting climbs not straight up workouts for weirdos on training programmes  

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MischaHY 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Stick to the woody and try the 3x6 protocol I described - I suspect you'll have a much better time. If it's really hard, then reduce the number of moves to as little as 5 or 6 - the important factor is that you work really hard and get powered out, but complete the volume as described. 

If you're struggling on steep terrain then don't forget that you need to be doing a decent volume of conditioning training to improve your muscle strength, and also doing some max effort bouldering. Things like ancap/aeropow are basically methods to refine the tool you already have - strength training gives you a bigger tool and makes everything easier. This is something I failed to recognise for a long time and did a lot of wasted aeropow as a result. 

Sometimes you just need more grunt. 

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AJM 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Paul Sagar:

It doesn't sound like the ancap workouts I've done in the past, but I wouldn't worry about it too much - don't let perfect be the enemy of good - if you feel powered out rather than pumped then it's probably doing something good. You could do all sorts of micro tweaking but whether the benefit is more than marginal until you're a lot further down the road is a different question!

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Paul Sagar 13 Feb 2020
In reply to MischaHY:

Yup, my programme has a metric tonne of strength and conditioning work to go alongside the anaerobic and aerobic work, so hopefully I’ll get the cross training benefits in due course. 

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