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Article: Why do interval or high intensity training sessions?

Pourquoi faire des séances de fractionné ?

Why do interval or high intensity training sessions?

High Intensity Training (HIT) sessions are essential if you want to make progress in running.

These are interval training sessions involving repeated intense efforts. These sessions are fairly short, but carried out at an intensity level close to our maximum (often over 90% of our VO2max).

These sessions enable you to make progress because they stimulate the body's adaptation cycle by pushing it close to its limits. They are therefore both beneficial and demanding, difficult.

The ideal is to programme one or two interval training sessions a week, in addition to, for example, a low-intensity recovery run and a long run. If you schedule two in the same week, don't schedule them on two consecutive days, but allow at least two days between your two interval training sessions (for example, one on Tuesday and the other on Friday).

 

 How to plan for a HIT session?

 

To programme or define an interval training session, you need to consider the 4 parameters or questions below:

- Short or long interval training?

Short interval training involves repetitions lasting less than 2 minutes (for example, 30, 60 or 90 seconds), whereas long interval training involves repetitions lasting more than 3 minutes (for example, 4, 5 or 6 minutes). The intensity of the intervals (speed) in short interval training will be higher than in long interval training.

- Number of repetitions?

The aim is to spend around 10 minutes at over 90% of your VO2Max or MAS (Maximum Aerobic Speed). Depending on the length of the repetition in short interval training or long interval training, this could lead to the following options for interval training sessions - with a multitude of variations:

o Short interval training - 2 sets of 10 x (30 sec + recovery phase)

o Short interval training - 1 set of 10 x (60 sec + recovery phase)

o Long interval training - 3 repetitions of 4 min + recovery phase

o Long interval training - 2 repetitions of 6 min + recovery phase

- Active or passive recovery?

After each interval, it's important to recover either passively (at a standstill with your hands on your knees) or actively (at a slow pace of less than 50% of your MAS for long interval training or a moderate pace of 60-70% of your MAS for short interval training). Passive recovery is especially recommended for long interval training sessions with short recovery phases (for example, with 4 min repetitions at high intensity with only 2 min recovery).

- How long is the recovery phase between repetitions?

In general, the recovery phase after each high-intensity interval should be at least half the duration of the interval and at most the same duration. To repeat and complete the above examples of interval training sessions, this gives the following options:

o Short interval training - 2 sets of 10 x (30 sec + 15 to 30 sec recovery)

o Short interval training - 1 set of 10 x (60 sec + 30 to 60 sec recovery)

o Long interval training - 3 repetitions of 4 min + 2 to 4 min recovery

o Long interval training - 2 repetitions of 6 min + 3 to 6 min recovery

If we now combine the answers to the 4 questions above to programme or define an interval training session, we come up with 4 examples of interval training sessions:

Short interval training (2 examples)

  • Warm-up + Intervals 2x10x(30 sec @ +90% MAS + 30 sec @ 60% MAS) + Cool Down
  • Warm-up + Intervals 10 x (1 min @ +90% MAS + 1 min @ 60% MAS) + Cool Down 


Long interval training (2 examples)

  • Warm-up + Intervals 3x(4 min @ 90% MAS + 4 min @ 40% MAS) + Cool Down
  • Warm-up + Intervals 2x(6 min @ 90% MAS + 6 min @ 40% MAS) + Cool Down 

 

Warm-up and Cool Down phases should last between 10 to 15 min.

 

Some additional tips for successful HIT sessions

 

Finally, here's some additional advice on how to approach your interval training sessions:

If you're starting a training cycle and haven't done many interval training sessions in the previous weeks or months, it's best to allow yourself longer recovery phases without exceeding the duration of high-intensity intervals (30/30 sec or 1 min/1min etc...).

Don't forget to include a progressive 'warm-up' phase of 10 to 15 minutes for each interval training session (don't start off with a bang with high-intensity intervals) and a progressive 'cool-down' phase of 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the session.

You can vary the pleasures by doing your interval training sessions on the road, on the treadmill, on the athletics track or uphill.

Finally, be patient and courageous: patient because you'll need at least a month of demanding interval training sessions to feel the positive effects of these sessions, and courageous because these sessions sting!

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