High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, as it is known, has proven to be a time-effective way to improve fitness in a range of settings.
Physical activity researchers from the University of Newcastle have explored the physical and mental benefits of introducing HIIT training for school students through their Burn 2 Learn program.
They have also conducted a workplace-based HIIT study that found participants felt better, slept better and were more motivated and fitter.
Now, researchers are exploring the benefits of sport specific HIIT, which could help coaches make better use of their training sessions.
Associate Professor Narelle Eather, researcher in the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at University of Newcastle, and her team have done some preliminary studies looking at the benefits of eight-minute HIIT sessions for netballers.
The objective was to provide easy to use, time efficient and practical resources for coaches at club and representative levels to implement into their training sessions in order to provide netball specific HIIT sessions to athletes of all ages.
"We've been doing lots of studies with High Intensity Interval Training with the WorkHIIT and Burn to Learn and now we've been looking at how it can be embedded into community sport," Associate Professor Eather said.
"Obviously sport lends itself well to those short bursts of exercise but then when coaches are looking for things to do with their teams, they're not really sports specific. HIIT is obviously good for improving fitness and you can adapt the different protocols to make sure you target your sport. However, there isn't really any programs that have been tested with sport that specifically use HIIT for different sports, so this was a first attempt at trying to do that."
Using netballers, researchers first conducted GPS tracking of netballers during game play, studying the different movement patterns and the speed of different positions in netball. Games ranged from junior level to senior premier league.
They then put together five HIIT eight-minute sessions tailored to those different movement patterns, which have been trialed over a six-week period with Newcastle's 11-years development squad.
"We're testing whether it's effective and we're also looking at their enjoyment levels and how they feel before and after the activity," Associate Professor Eather said. "We're measuring outcomes to see if this SportHIIT could be picked up by any coach.
"You don't really need any equipment. You don't really need any training and that's the idea, that they're feasible and that any club coach could implement it in the first 10 minutes of their netball session so that isn't wasted time where girls are doing static stretches and a jog around the court.
"You can actually utilise their time in an hour session to improve fitness but at the same time improve their netball movement skills through activities that prepares them to be conditioned for the game itself."
Associate Professor Eather said the next step was exploring the use of HIIT for a range of community sports.
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Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.