Skip HIIT (at least sometimes)

In recent years High Intensity Interval Training (short: HIIT) has become fashionable. And it seems to me as if this method must be the best way to get fit and lean. The argument sounds compelling: Short and tough efforts take a lot more energy than easy going long endurance trainings. Therefore the effect from HIIT on your fitness and body weight would be greater than the gains you get from traditional endurance workouts. And the best of all would be that a unit of HIIT can be crammed in 20 minutes whereas long endurance training takes 90 minutes or even more. At the end of the day you can get better results in less time, according to HIIT proponents. This is good news for busy people or guys, who find usual cardio exercises boring.

hiit_exercise

Source: Muscle & Fitness

Now, I have to add that I am a fan of HIIT. So I would subscribe to the proponent’s arguments. However there is a pitfall: You can become strong and lean by doing HIIT, but you will never become an athlete without doing extensive and low intensity units at least in the off-season.

Think of a pro cyclist who aims to finish the Tour de France. What do you think does his schedule looks like? I tell you: This guy spends 90 or more percent of his time on medium and low intensity rides in the early stage of a season. This is the way a cyclist builds the basis of a race winning shape. On top of this fundament our to-be Tour-de-France-finisher grows his anaerobic capacity by doing high intensity intervals, tempo slamming, up-hill racing and – of course – participating in competitions.

longride_exercise

Source: Livestrong

Hence, if you want to finish a something like this, that or that, you have a lot of aerobic work to do in the first place. In this respect HIIT is not the silver bullet, but a great workout to complement your schedule and sharpen your form before you take your personal long distance challenge.

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Self-made indoor cycling workout

On Youtube you will find a lot of great indoor cycling workouts. My personal favorit comes from Australia. These guys do a great job. Their workouts are challenging, and the videos give you everything you wish: a detailed outline of the workout, useful hints to guide you through the workout, each interval and every recovery is announced, during the intervals a timer tells you how long you have to go. And the effort level is represented by a scale with levels from 1 to 6 with 1 being very easy and 6 standing for an all-in effort. These features are the reason why I follow the workouts for around 1.5 years. However from time to time I need change in my routine. Therefore I created a couple of alternatives. One of them I will share with you today. All you need is your smartphone, an interval timer from Google Play and your preferred workout sound.

Then edit this workout on your timer, turn up the sound and get into it!

  • Start with thorough warm-up to prepare your body for the following exercise

After the warm-up there a four intervals per set:

  • 2 min 10 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery
  • 2 min 50 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery
  • 1 min 45 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery
  • 3 min 15 s effort
  • 1 min 10 s recovery

As you can easily calculate that one set lasts 14 min 40 s. Since you spend around two thirds of the time with efforts, choose an intensity that takes you to the threshold, or slightly below or above.

Depending on your fitness level you can do several sets according to the pattern I just described. For instance do four sets to do a one hour workout. And please keep in mind that you should spend another 5 to 10 min cooling down. That helps you to recover quicker.

For some of you it sounds annoying to spend an hour or even more time on an indoor cycling bike. Here a few tricks to keep yourself in a good mood.

  • Alternate sitting and standing position
  • Try out different combinations of cadence and resistance – in general, a high cadence goes with low resistance, and a low cadence implies a hard gear.
  • Sound! The right sound will push you through the workout as if you had a tail wind. Nice is, for instance, this piece.
  • Reward yourself! My favorit after workout reward is big cappuccino followed by cheese cream with ketchup and a two-hour-chill-out-TV-session.

 

Please keep in mind the following:

As with any exercise, you should consult a doctor/physician before beginning a programme of exercise. Discontinue your exercise session immediately if you experience any pain, dizziness or discomfort. Doing the workout described in this blog post is entirely at your own risk, and I can not be held responsible for any injuries which may occur as a result of this exercise.