Great article in the Times today (5/1/2016) by Peter Bee who interviews Dr Peter Herbert, director of Human Performance Lab’ at the University of Wales. Herbert is a 70 plus aged guy who has trained all his life but found at he moved into old age that no matter how much training he did, his performance still gradually declined. Up until recently however his training has been of the traditional variety of long aerobic work outs. After looking into HIIT he decided to give it a go and monitor how it affected his fitness and strength profile. HIIT involves doing short but more intense workouts and less frequently. Typical for a runner like me it would involve doing 30 second bursts to around 90% maximum effort and then recovering before repeating. Some months ago I switched to this approach by running up a 200 meter hill and then jogging down to recover. I repeat this about 3 or 4 times. With the jog out and the jog back it takes about 20 minutes.
When the results impressed Doctor Herbert he enlisted a group of volunteers and carried out a similar experiment on them and found the same outcomes in terms of improved strength and general performance. It appears that our bodies as we get older respond better to a different type of exercise regime. Couple this with fact that this type of exertion is much more in line with our ancestral survival than long endurance training. The other plus is that Dr Herbert gained these benefits with just one workout per week. This was in contrast to the three or four sessions he was doing previously, clearly recovery is just as important as work outs as we get older. Testosterone levels also improved in his subjects.
HIIT can be applied to what ever is your chosen training regime. If you prefer cycling or swimming then do it in short intense bursts with recovery.