Which HIIT Sprints Are Best?

Research published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research shows that short-duration interval sprints (30 sec) allow athletes to complete longer and more metabolically challenging HIIT workouts.

And if you’re trying to be a better athlete…..longer and more metabolically challenging HIIT workouts is exactly what you want.

The Study

Researchers had 12 recreationally competitive triathletes perform 4 HIIT sessions on an exercise bicycle. The HIIT sessions ranged in intensity (90-100% Max Power Output) and duration (30 secs-3 minutes).

They found that the 30 sec on / 30 sec off HIIT sprints allowed the athletes to perform:

  • longer sessions
  • with a higher V̇O2
  • and lower blood lactate levels.

Similarly, performing the HIIT sprints at 90% of maximum power output also allowed total workout time with a higher V̇O2.


The researchers concluded that shorter sprints (30 sec) at submaximal intensity (90% MPO) allows athletes to perform more effective HIIT workouts.

And I agree.

I would also suggest you experiment with:

  • Even shorter HIIT sprints – as low as 10 sec
  • Complete rest between sprints rather than a slow cycle or walking around
  • Blood buffering agents – sodium/potassium bicarbonate
  • Playing with the duration of rest periods – they used a 1:1 work:rest ratio in the test – my athletes vary between a 2:1 ratio to a 1:5 ratio




Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

3 thoughts on “Which HIIT Sprints Are Best?

  • June 18, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Hey Doug, Yeah I think this is great advice. Years ago, my workouts consisted mainly of doing weights. I would typically do 4 sets per exercises–typically building up to an additional 1 RM and taking a ton of rest between sets. Now, I’m older so my focus is 1) avoiding injury and 2) getting leaner so I’m focusing more on core exercises / strength and HIIT type training. The results have been great so far!

  • April 29, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Can you comment a bit how you perceive the usefulness of the different exercise times and the different recovery ratios? I always have the impression that scientists dont really have much to say there becuase their settings are too restricted


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