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A modern and popular way to make the most of your training time, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)is great for burning calories and improving your top-end fitness.

What it’s for

Traditional slow and steady base miles in the winter still have their place in a good training programme. If you’re looking to become a fat-burning machine over extreme distances, there is no replacement for the long hard graft.

However, modern ways of thinking have brought us a new style of time-efficient training in the form of HIIT. HIIT involves many repetitions of short, high-power sprints in a relatively short workout. Because of the aggressive nature of the workout, it’s essential to use a direct-drive trainer to prevent the rear wheel from slipping.

The trainer also needs a strong, stable base that provides a high degree of resistance so that you’re not shaking your rickety old turbo trainer to bits! This brings the added benefit of allowing you to sprint out of the saddle and incorporate more muscle groups into your workout. Something such as the Tacx Neo is ideal for this session.

Though it is true that lower training intensities allow your body to convert a higher proportion of fat into energy, it doesn’t necessarily follow that low intensities are best for weight loss. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. The after-burn effect of HIIT and the much higher total amount of calories burnt per hour make
it the training of choice for the time-crunched athlete who wants to shed a few kilograms.

This session will also help with your sprint power and lactate tolerance, both great assets to have for criterium racing or chain-gang style group rides.

How to do it

Place your smart trainer in slope mode for this session so that it holds a set resistance and allows you to adjust the power output by changing your cadence or gear. It is also possible to pre-program this workout into the Tacx app (free to download on Android and iTunes) so that you don’t have to remember how many sprints you’ve done or have left.

Taking the thinking out of the sessions means one less thing to focus on and helps you really concentrate on the task at hand.

A smart trainer offering high levels of resistance and realistic road feel is best for this workout. The Tacx Neo has a maximum resistance of 2,200 watts for your sprint intervals — more than enough for us mere mortals!

Try a HIIT session for yourself

1 After a 20-minute gradual and progressive warm-up, complete three 10-minute blocks of sprinting.

2 Each sprint should start with 5-10 seconds of 100 per cent maximum effort out of the saddle. For the longer sprints, return to the saddle and keep the power on for as long as possible.

3 Each 10-minute block includes one sprint per minute. The duration of the sprints increases from 10 seconds to 30 seconds over the course of the workout.

4 For the sprints longer than 10 seconds, get into the saddle, change up a gear and continue to push out the highest power you can sustain for the duration. Expect these efforts to
start off high and tail off slightly towards the end of each one.

5 Gently spin the legs out at a high cadence in the five-minute recovery blocks and 15-minute recovery period at the end of the session. Your recovery periods are essential to flush out by-products.