Recently I caught up with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) expert Martin Buchheit and asked him some common HIIT questions.
Hopefully, that has answered your HIIT related questions. For more information don’t forget you can buy Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training now.
HIIT questions from the interview
Time needed: 5 minutes.
A brief summary of the HIIT questions answered in the interview.
- What is HIIT?
It’s the repetition of some high-intensity intervals interspersed with lower intensity recovery periods.
- Is HIIT for everyone?
HIIT can be applied to any type of population as long as it’s well programmed and managed. There is evidence that every single type of person can benefit from HIIT.
- What is the difference between HIIT and ‘going hard’?
The major advantage of HIIT is that when it’s well managed and well programmed you can hit some very important physiological targets. These have performance and health benefits. The interplay of manipulation between the intensity, the duration of the intervals and the recovery that creates HIIT could be a bit complex in terms of programming but that makes it interesting as well.
- Can a gym instructor/PT prescribe HIIT or just sports scientists?
Everyone should be able to prescribe HIIT it’s more the approach that has a scientific basis.
- Should everybody hit around 90% of their Vo2 Max when doing HIIT?
Yes, probably, but if you just say 90% of vo2 max how do you use that for prescription? No one can measure your actual vo2 during training. So we use other markers of intensity that allow us to bring people into this zone which is 90% or above, it could be 95%. But it’s more about using external tools and clues. Such as a percentage of maximal aerobic power that would have been measured on an ergometer, maximal aerobic speed that would be measured on the treadmill or in the field. External tools and clues help us to reach the right metabolic intensity.
- What are the methods to prescribe HIIT?
Maximum aerobic power and aerobic speed can be done using ergometers. We could also prescribe HIIT using other types of tests, for example, the 30 15 intermittent fitness test which is a field-based test that I developed a while ago. It combines the ability and the evaluation of not only maximum aerobic power but because it’s performed with the shuttles on the field, it evaluates the change of direction (agility) too.
- How do you monitor HIIT?
There are many tools at our disposal. Described in the book. It’s also important to measure athletes perception of effort.
- Can you describe how HIIT can work across a variety of sports?
It is considered that HIIT can be beneficial to any type of sport but it’s important to find the right programming for each sport. Some sports will benefit more from long intervals, some others will benefit from a shorter type of repeated sprints. That’s what the book
Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training is about. We explain and help people understand how to manipulate and choose the best interval for the best fit for the sport.
- High-speed management is important for injury prevention, how can HIIT help?
When HIIT is designed for run based sports we can manage and modulate the amount of high-speed running. So for players that would already have a lot of high-speed running in the legs we can design HIIT sessions that restrict the amount of speed running, not to overload them but conversely for players that may need top-ups to catch up with what they’ve been missing while not playing. HIIT is a very good way to add and increase high speed running demands.
- Is HIIT recommended to burn fat and for aesthetics?
Yes, for a long time we’ve been talking about the specific fat burning intensities which work in terms of what happens acutely. Overall HIIT is also a way to increase the overall energy expenditure. So HIIT creates an overall daily balance that participates into creating an energy deficit.
- What does the future hold for HIIT?
We are trying to develop further and bring the science further into the practice. Along with my colleague Paul we’ll go through more examples with new sports so there will be definitely a second edition with new disciplines.
HIIT in sport
In the interview, Martin spoke briefly about how HIIT can be applied to a variety of sports. Take a look at Rugby HIIT Training: 5 ‘Weapons’ For Effective Workouts for an explanation of how HIIT can be used in Rugby Union training.
Martin Buchheit HIIT expert
Martin Buchheit, as mentioned in the video is one of the most cited and well known S&C coaches in the world. He has worked all over the world. He gained his doctorate in physiology from the University of Strasbourg in France. Dr Buchheit is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor College of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University, Australia and Head of Performance at Paris Saint-Germain FC.
He has worked as a Sports Scientist and Physiologist at Aspire Academy in Qatar and the French FA.
His overall scientific work has been cited more than 11,000 times, with the 2-part review on high-intensity interval training co-authored with Paul Laursen being the most cited of all.
Given his background and experience, he is perfectly suited to answer your HIIT questions.
Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training
In the book Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training, which Buchheit co-edited with Paul Laursen he covers 20 sports, as well as sport specific applications of HIIT, including:
- Understanding High-Intensity Interval Training
- Genesis and Evolution of High-Intensity Interval Training
- Traditional Methods of HIIT Programming
- Physiological targets of HIIT
- Manipulating HIIT Variables
- Using HIIT Weapons
- Incorporating HIIT into Concurrent Training Program
- HIIT and its Influence on Stress, Fatigue and Athlete Health
- Quantifying Training Load
- Response to Load
- Putting It All Together
The HIIT team
The co-editor Paul Laursen is currently the Adjunct Professor at AUT University, New Zealand. Laursen has published over 125 refereed manuscripts in moderate-to-high impact exercise and sports science journals. This work has been cited more than 8000 times. He is also an incredible endurance athlete himself, having completed 17 Ironman triathlon races.
The book has some world famous contributors too. These include:
Johann Bilsborough – Director of Performance at New England Patriots. High-Performance Manager/Director of Sport Science at Boston Celtics. Previously worked in the NRL (Rugby League), AFL (Aussie Rules) MMA and boxing.
Nicholas Gill – Head of S&C at the most famous rugby nation in the world – New Zealand All Blacks. During his time there he’s lead the All Blacks to more than 130 test wins and two back-to-back World Cup titles in 2011 and 2015.
Duncan French – Currently the Vice President of Performance, UFC. Previously, worked on three Olympic cycles for Team GB as the lead for S&C at the English Institute of Sport. Also worked as Head of S&C at Newcastle United FC.
Dave Hamilton – Former Head of S&C for the medal-winning Team GB women’s Field Hockey team. Current Assistant Athletic Director for Applied Health and Performance Science at Pennsylvania State University.
Jamie Stanley – A sports physiologist. He works for the Australian Cycling and Swimming teams with current world recording holding, Olympic, Commonwealth and World champion athletes. Jamie is also an Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of South Australia.
Plus many more!
Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training
Martin Buchheit and Paul Laursen