Sprint Interval Training (or SIT) is a great method of movement to include in your weekly workout. It can positively affect our bones, muscles and body composition and takes a fraction of the time it takes to get similar results from moderate exercise. Read more below

Why SIT?

As we get older traditional methods of exercise are not adequate for improving our bone, muscle or overall body composition. And ultimately these are the three that are up for most change as our hormones change.

Variety and challenge, as well as recovery, is key, and this newsletter we focus on SIT – Sprint Interval Training. 

SIT comes under the umbrella of HIIT, but whereas HIIT  (High Intensity Interval Training) includes slightly longer intervals where the move is challenging but more a 8/10 on RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale, SIT should be a 9 – 10/10 on the RPE measure and always short (think 8 – 20 seconds) followed by a longer recovery (12 – 20 seconds). The recovery should enable you to recover enough that you can repeat the SIT interval at the same level (i.e. full on/all guns blazing). 

Benefits include:

Increased insulin sensitivity – we naturally become more insulin resistant as we move through our 40s and beyond, linked to the chaos of changing hormones. Insulin resistance can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes amongst other chronic diseases if left unmanaged, so we need to do what we can to not add fuel to the fire. When we do SIT our body knows that it needs more energy as well as stimulating a protein GLUT 4 which works to pull sugar into the muscle. Therefore SIT will make our bodies more efficient at pulling glucose out of the blood and into the muscle replacing the stimulus that oestrogen used to provide.  

Body Composition/belly fat – because it is a strong, intense stress, we have an increased amount of carbohydrate uptake, which means that we end up using more body fat at rest, so we have more lipid/fat removal as well as utilization, and it ends up increasing our lean mass and decreasing our fat mass. 

It’s incredibly efficient!

Studies – 8 seconds on, 12 seconds off, 8 weeks, 3 times a week v 40 minute moderate intensity cycle, results – significantly increased  increased total lean mass, decreased fat mass, and increased aerobic fitness with only eight hours of actual exercise over eight weeks https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31603262/

An Example of a Typical SIT Session

1) 5-10 minutes of mobilization and warm up.

2) Then 5 x 20 seconds ON, 5 x 2 minutes OFF (on repeat, i.e. 20 seconds on, 2 minutes off x 5)

  • The ON can be running, cycling, rowing, elliptical, kettlebell swings, barbell movement (thrusters). The term ‘Sprint’ means really HARD, and FAST.
  • The OFF is active recovery. The intensity is 50% effort or less to rapidly bring your heart rate down, gain control of breathing, and have some metabolic and central nervous system recovery e.g. walk, slow jog

3) Finish with 5-10 minutes of active cool down to bring your heart rate right down, and then do some stretching.

This example has only 2:30 minutes of hard work. The total time, including the warm up and cooldown, is just over 20 minutes depending on the length of your cooldown.

How much? Once a week, build up gradually, listen to your body and make sensible choices! Take it at your own speed – as with all of these exercises you are responsible for all exercise that you undertake and it is relative to your movement journey and fitness level.  

Anna Black cannot be held responsible for any injury or harm caused as a result of participation in any session you decide to take from reading this newsletter. Make sensible choices. You are taking part at your own risks.


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