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You may have already heard about high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and how it can improve the outcomes of your workout. The truth of the matter is that different workouts are best for different people and different goals

The details matter. A report published recently in the World Journal of Cardiology gives us some specifics to consider.1 

What is High-intensity Interval Training?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense exercise with periods of less intense exercise for recovery. Some strategies include weight training as well. For instance, someone might run on a treadmill with high resistance and incline as hard as possible for 30 seconds, then run for a few minutes more slowly at a lower level, and repeat this pattern four to six times. In addition to the efficiency claims, some people feel like this is a more interesting way to exercise.

Cautions with High-intensity Interval Training

HIIT puts big demands on your heart. A thorough evaluation with your doctor or exercise physiologist can help ensure that you are ready.

How to Measure Aerobic Fitness

One way to measure aerobic fitness or aerobic capacity is peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak). This is a clinical measurement of the highest value of oxygen uptake attained in a high-intensity exercise test that brings a person to the limit of tolerance.2 It stands out as a strong predictor of future health, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular risk.3  

How Much More Effective is HIIT?

In the current report, Shigenori Ito, MD, PhD, and team synthesize the research of multiple studies comparing various HIIT protocols with moderate-intensity continuous training (MCT). In terms of improvement in V02peak, HIIT proved generally superior. Some studies had exceptions, but generally across all the studies, HIIT was two to three times as effective at improving VO2peak in a four to sixteen week window.

Supervised Training

The authors of the current study and others strongly recommend learning HIIT with supervision, for best results. They state, “A supervised workout is mandatory to maintain high-intensity adherence until the participants become accustomed to the intensity and to heart rate measurements during physical activity by using a wearable heart rate monitoring device.”

Not All HIIT is the Same?

As the results denote, there are various protocols for HIIT. These can be anaerobic, aerobic, more strength oriented, 4x4, 10x1, J-HIAT, EJ-HIAT, etc. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some studies found some HIIT protocols to be the same as or inferior to MCT. We may explore this more in future articles. The easy solution is to schedule an assessment with an exercise physiologist at Advanced Physiotherapy. An exercise physiologist will be able to design the exact program for your specific condition and goals, including the optimal HIIT protocol, if that fits. Call (02) 4954 5330.




  1. Ito S. High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases-the key to an efficient exercise protocol. World Journal of Cardiology. 2019 Jul 26;11(7):171.
  2. Cade WT, Bohnert KL, Reeds DN, Peterson LR, Bittel AJ, Bashir A, Byrne BJ, Taylor CL. Peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) across childhood, adolescence and young adulthood in Barth syndrome: Data from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. PLoS One. 2018 May 24;13(5):e0197776.

DeFina LF, Haskell WL, Willis BL, Barlow CE, Finley CE, Levine BD, Cooper KH. Physical activity versus cardiorespiratory fitness: two (partly) distinct components of cardiovascular health?. Progress in Cardiovasc

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