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  • Too many days of high intensity decreases fitness, the right dose improves endurance by 11 percent

    Often I'm asked my opinion on the popular high-intensity interval training (HIIT) programs offered in various forms. In general, I'm not a fan. I believe that daily doses of high-intensity training is risky for injury and has limited positive benefits.

    Turns out, a recent study supports my opinion of "limited positive benefits" and takes it further. Daily HIIT sessions blunts or decreases fitness.

    One of my cyclists sent me a link to a recent column from the New York Times "How to Get Fit in a Few Minutes a Week." The column examined results of a couple of studies. In short, the column concluded:

    At the end of the prescribed time, those who had completed three HIIT sessions per week had improved their endurance capacity by almost 11 percent. But those exercising daily displayed no such improvements and, in some, endurance declined. Only after those volunteers had quit training altogether did their aerobic capacity creep upward; after 12 days of rest, their endurance peaked at about 6 percent above what it had been at the start, suggesting, the researchers believe, that daily high-intensity interval sessions are too frequent and exhausting. In that situation, fatigue blunts physical adaptations.

    What I found most interesting is that the HIIT sessions they found to be valuable are those 30- to 60-seconds long, completed only a few times per week. This finding continues to support the 2007 I wrote titled "Miracle Intervals on the Indoor Trainer."

    Those Miracle Intervals are included in many of the training plans in my books and in some of my online training plans.

    Periodization of training works.

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