Saturday, March 23, 2013

HIIT - Sprints on the bike

me on Thursday...
Walking to work the other day I listened to a podcast from Layne Norton - Muscle College Radio - where he was discussing cardio and particularly high intensity intervals.  There has been enough on this blog over years about interval training (e.g. here) and its benefits, but it was interesting to hear this discussion especially as they got into the different pathways in the muscle that were activated by different types of exercise.

There has been a lot of research done on intervals in Dr Jake Wilson's lab where they seem to have a particular interest in bodybuilders looking to gain muscle and lose fat.

Anyway in their experiments they tend to use what they describe as a Wingate bike - a stationary cycle set up for the Wingate test.  You pedal to reach a peak revs per minute and then a load is added to the bike to make it harder....then you go as hard as you can for 30 seconds.  This is not just pdalling hard....this is hitting a hard resistance that gets so hard you struggle to pedal.  Their intervals are not just a few sprints....they are all out to failure efforts.

There is a video of the standard test here - you can see her hit a peak rpm and then the weight falls and she goes as hard as possible for 30 seconds basically just about failing at the end.



Here is another which explains it a bit




What is striking is that this is not your average sprint....this is tough to failure... hard work.  It may be that this sort of intensity is not strictly needed, but it does make you question just how hard you are actually working!

The podcast gave an idea for how to do this on a normal stationary bike


  • warm up 
  • start to cycle going faster and faster
  • when you are at a max rpm, pump up the resistance level as high as possible 
  • keep going as long as you can until you fail
It is not a perfect substitute but it works well enough.   I tried it yesterday for a series of sprints and it gave a massive leg pump.....


Interesting how hard this is...and how similar - in the to failure aspect - to that other HIT.

Also check out Clarence Bass new piece on intervals with weights

16 comments:

Stephan Raczak said...

That episode of Muscle Colllege Radio was fantastic. A lot of useful info there.

It's one of my favourite podcasts out there.

Chris said...

Stephen - agreed . I've really enjoyed al 3 episodes so far

Aaron said...

I also tried 'modified' ones on my bike at home while attached to a stand. I spun and then popped it into the big chainring and smallest cog ... it worked well enough.

Then I tried it while commuting to work on my bike. Normally I just go over a bridge, but there is a road that drops under it as well. When I get to the bottom of that road I spin until I hit the up slope and then go full tilt in that gear, basically resulting in my inability to pedal right before I reach the top. And then I turn around and do it again. This way is very effective.

Chris said...

Nice one Aaron. That sounds good. I think what this made clear to me was just how hard high intensity intervals are supposed to be. They are tough!

Anonymous said...

This was an excellent podcast! Ross Enamait recommends a basic Schwinn Airdyne for intervals. Apparently, they last a really long time and cost a fraction of the price of the Wingates. I happened to find one on craigslist yesterday for under $200. I also did some scouring of various forums in regards to doing intervals on an airdyne vs Concept II rower (also fairly expensive) and found that the majority of the people said that the airdyne produced a much higher level of "suck" (intensity) than the rower. For whatever reason, I've never liked the idea of intervals on a bike as I've always simply gravitated toward running sprints. However, I'm now looking forward to applying the concept of some bike intervals to give my joints a break. We'll see how it goes!

JamesSteeleII said...

Haha to add some perspective of how hard a wingate is supposed to be we have as standard protocol in our lab that the bin must be directly next to the bike and recovery bike in case the participant throws up afterward which is not at all uncommon. Its kind of an initiation in students 2nd year that they complete a wingate during the practical session covering the topic and there are often hurlers.

30 seconds feels like a long time doing a wingate. There are protocols too (where the relative resistance differs) for 60 second wingates and they are just as nasty.

James Y said...

Interesting, I have done intervals on the stationary bike, and with super slow weights, but I have to ask a dumb question? I'm 50 this year, I am at the right weight and body fat%, I do weights 2-3 times a week I walk and Cycle regulary and I practice wing chun Kungfu, I am finding intervals and heavy weights increasingly wearing on my joints, I have to lengthen my rest times (4-7 days or so)I have to stretch to realign tissue to stop creptis in my knees. So my dumb question is, do I have to push myself like this, or can I just do gentle workouts to keep active supple and maintain muscle, or will I always have to challenge myself and hurt! I'm getting tired of it after a life of exercise, I don't compete in any thing and just want to be healthy.

BrianA said...

Any recommendations for sprint/running versions. I don't have access to a bike (no gym and heavy snow in winter)?

Anonymous said...

@jamesY,
I'm 63. I do intervals but you don't have to make it a near death experience. Richard Winnett has an article on his "master trainer" website that addresses this. they used BW exercises for intervals with a bit slower ramp up, and it worked as well as 4X/wk 45 min. endurance training.
And you don't need to use heavy (for you) weights to maintain or even build muscle.
Clarence bass is a great source for this info.
Finally, if it hurts, esp. past 50 or so, you won't maintain it very long.

James Y said...

Thanks Anonymous, that's very helpful, I find that I can only manage HIT once a week as I need the recovery time, I push hard now not heavy and only to maintain my muscle, my main interest is Wing Chun Kung Fu so I don't need to be bulky, just lean and quick. thanks very much for your reply, it is hard to find advice on training protocol for the 50 up age groups! Best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

@jamesY from another anonymous 62 years old.

I think the short answer to your question is that as you age your body becomes less resilient. So you must reduce volume/intensity/frequency and increase recovery to match your body's physical capability. It is a balancing act that no one can tell you for sure how it looks. You are your own best expert. Through experimentation you will learn what is best for you. And it will include recalibrating the amount of energy you give to the individual components, as well, in order to best suit your goals.

What keeps me in the game at a high level of fitness is a specific resistance program design: Push day, pull day and leg day. 30-40 minutes each session and one of each session per week for a total of 1 1/2 to 2 hours per week with days off in between each session. Leg day can include sprinting or brisk hiking up a steep grade. What is really working though is that all exercises are full body done from the feet. This means, in effect, that each of my muscles have a target day and two light days where they are in a support role. The increase in blood flow on the light days increases recovery while decreasing recovery time. And with that I am still giving each set of target muscles a full week between the hard workouts. This allows me to do a greater amount of work and maintain a higher level of fitness. The other detail is that doing full body exercises allows the body to distribute forces which diminishes stress on the joints. I accent the joint benefit by doing a lot of stabilization oriented exercises which increase joint integrity. Joints are held together functionally by muscles. Add to this a lot of good old fashioned walking and moving around and you have the complete picture. Hope this helps.

James Y said...

Thanks very much for that advice 'another Anonymous, I certainly see the benefit of body wieght and balance work, I have really upped that over the last year and it's been very beneficial, I have managed to overcome a persistent back problem by working on those very things. My biggest current hurdle is recovering from an ankle injury sustained by kicking a punch bag when I had a go at taeqwondo last summer, 10 months on and its still a real problem! Thanks again.

galen nikolaidis said...

I think doing HIT exercises is better than weight lifting cause in only gives you muscle and strength while HIT gives you a lot of benefits like burning fats, stamina, faster blood flow, endurance and etc. terex colombia

Shaun said...

Is there a way to contact Dr. Jake Wilson? I want to ask him whether the substitute I have found will have the same effect as the Wingate bike - the standard static bike in my gym has a safety feature when you pedal to a very high RPM the brakes kick in. This is your resistance and like when the weight drops on the Wingate bike. Do you think this will work in the same manner?

Chris said...

Shaun

you could just use google? I just did that and found this http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/presidentprofile.html

Shaun said...

Cheers Chris! I did try but I must not know how to Google...