Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Go Hard or Go Home

Is high intensity interval training the latest exercise fad or is there a physiological basis to it?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Exercise trends come and go, and thank goodness for that in most cases. Those unfortunate enough to be my age may recall when lycra midriff tops were popular among men at gyms (admittedly in the 1980s, the decade that style forgot) and when blokes totally lacking coordination like myself were obliged to attempt impossibly complex dance steps in aerobics classes. I’m hoping that core stability, a ridiculous form of exercise based on grown men prancing across the gym floor while holding kettle weights in either hand, will soon also be issued with a “never to be revived” notice.

But occasionally something more substantial turns up. In gyms around Australia today the hot whisper is HIIT: high-intensity interval training. HIIT involves repeated short bouts of very high intensity exercise, alternating with low intensity exercise or rest. The length of both the all-out and rest periods can vary from a few seconds to a few minutes, with typical exercise:recovery ratios 1:1 or 1:2. You can use a stationary bike, a treadmill, a rower, or any other mode where you can reliably estimate intensity.

HIIT has been touted as being more effective than the traditional long moderate-intensity steady state exercise at reducing body fat, increasing aerobic power, reducing insulin resistance, controlling blood pressure, improving blood fat levels and making exercise more fun and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.