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Using Your Treadmill for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

552085-1369-15With more and more people using their home treadmills for fitness, advanced athletes are tuning their High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to indoor options.  It makes sense when you consider the rising costs of gym memberships and some of the inconveniences of running outdoors, including safety concerns and weather conditions.  We found a great article called “How To Use A Treadmill for Interval Training” that included a video and some of the basic treadmill tips for standard interval training.

Using a treadmill is convenient and whether at your gym or in the comfort of your own home, the trend for training is moving to indoor equipment. However what many avid trainers are asking themselves is the quality of training using a treadmill. Can you get a high intensity work out by using only a treadmill? The answer is yes, if you know how to switch up your regime and isolate specific muscle groups and intensities. If you are ready to move into High Intensity Interval Training, think about it as a way of conditioning your body according to a number of different styles that have been tested by athletes around the world. Try different regimes until you find the one that gives you the most impact and best results.

What Is HIIT?

Let’s start by understanding what HIIT is.  High Intensity Interval Training is accepted as the most efficient type of endurance building exercise method.   The design strategy of this practice is to alternate periods of short but very intense anaerobic exercise with lower activity and less intensive recovery periods of lighter exercise.   The cardiovascular demand of HIIT means that sessions rarely exceed 10-15 minutes in length with the maximum session length recommended as less than twenty minutes.

There are many benefits to the High Intensity Interval Training method. Placing the body into a state of alternating intensities increases the amount of glucose that is metabolized. Weight loss and fat burning are optimized while increasing endurance and conditioning. Most professional athletes use this method of building muscle, burning fat and refining core strength. Lastly this method of training is difficult but it is also interesting. If you are tired of a boring circuit, HIIT will revitalize your work out.

The Tabata Regime

The base methodologies of HIIT can be attributed by early research from a 1996 study conducted by Professor Izumi Tabata who applied the research to a group of Olympic speed skaters. In his research the study participants gained more muscle mass as a result of the style of training.

•    20 seconds of ultra-intensity exercise or motion (170% VO2 max level)
•    10 seconds of rest
•    Repeat continuously for 4 minutes (maximum eight repetitions)

[box type=”note”]The Tabata Regime has been proven to work both the aerobic and the anaerobic pathways harder (and in less time) than other training styles resulting in greater cardiovascular fitness. The theory behind the rest periods is that the body is again forced into endurance performance before it has fully recovered from the previous set.[/box]

The Gibala Regime

Canada’s McMaster University and Professor Martin Gibala published research on VO2 max levels and his method of optimizing High Intensity Interval Training. His participants used a slightly different model than the Tabata Regime. Professor Martin Gibala also published a less intense version of his HIIT method in 2011 designed to engage sedentary individuals.

•    Three minutes of warm up
•    10 repetitions of 60 second long bursts exercise  at 80-95% heart rate reserve
•    60 seconds of recovery
•    Five minute cool down

Timmons Regime

The most recent addition to the High Intensity Interval Training guideline is from Professor Jamie Timmons of Birmingham University.  The professor had his fifteen minutes of fame on a television episode where he put British Journalist Michael J. Mosley on an exercise bike to demonstrate the benefit of HIIT.

•    Three bursts of 2 minutes in duration (gentle pedal)
•    Twenty seconds of cycling at top speed
•    Repeated three times

Using a Treadmill for HIIT

By taking a closer look at the top three recognized high intensity interval training methods it’s not hard to see how easy it is to incorporate a stationary bicycle or a treadmill as part of your training program. Not only is it convenient having the exercise equipment in your own home to use as part of your weekly training program but you can design a variety of High Intensity Interval Training modules to amplify your performance and achieve your goals faster.

So how do you use a treadmill for this specific type of fitness program?   Create a 15 percent incline.  Do eight repetitions of 20 second sprints at slowly increasing treadmill speed with each repetition.  After each 20 second sprint, allow for a ten second rest period before commencing the next 20 second sprint (adopting the Tabata Regime).   Remember to use your arms on the treadmill (do not hold on to the rails) to maximize the intensity of your sprint.   You can also choose to use a weight belt to create more resistance and increase the aerobic value of your sprints. One thing is guaranteed. You will see results.

Louise Alvarez is a fitness writer and a graduate from New York University. When she's not writing, she loves to hike with her dog and read motivational books.

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