Pro’s and Con’s of high intensity training

Training at high intensities for shorter durations will not only save you time but research states that’s higher intensities elicit greater improvements in VO2MAX (maximum amount of oxygen that can be used) than lower intensities. Remember the intensity of training cannot be compensated for by longer duration. More time spent at higher intensities will elicit the greater emphasis for adaption (Gormley et al.,2008; Helgerud et al., 2007).

Better Endurance → Less Fatigue → Better Performance

So what are the alternatives to long distance jogging?

Interval Training – High intensity workout (HIIT), work:rest ratio should roughly be 1:1 (e.g. 15 seconds running followed by 15 seconds rest).

  • Pros: Sessions could be as quick as 8 minutes! This ultimately allows athletes to train at high intensities close to their VO2
  • Cons: Use sparingly, and only when you have a firm base of fitness.


Fartlek Training – This involves periods of easy running (70% VO2max) combined with hills or short, fast bursts (85-90% VO2max).

  • Pros: If your preference is long distance jogging then this can be a minor change to your training.
  • Cons: Again, use with slight caution when working at high intensities.


Circuit training – Typically involves a range of different exercises, work:rest ratio is about 1:3 (e.g. 15 seconds work followed by 45 seconds rest)

Example exercises: Kettlebell swings, squats, step ups, shoulder press, bent over row, press ups etc

  • Pros: Sociable, you can incorporate more muscle groups and/or areas of weakness (core/glutes/hamstrings etc) into your circuit. Can be done anywhere within reason and adapted to maintain interest.
  • Cons: Long recovery periods needed between sessions


Key take home messages

  1. Low intensity long duration training is not wasted time (providing you are running pain free!)
  2. Please use caution when prescribing high intensity training, ease into it.
  3. High intensity training should be present in your training plans.
    • Two training sessions per week are sufficient for achieving performance improvements without risking excessive demands upon the body.

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