High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) combines what’s typically a period of all-out effort with low to moderate intensity active recovery. These sets of intense to moderate effort can help you realize what you’d get out of a long steady state cycling session in about half the time. But do you have to go all out? A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine examines the effects of different approaches.

Researchers had 15 experienced cyclists engage in 3 intervals consisting of 3 minutes work with 3 minutes active recovery. On one visit to the gym, the 3 minutes of effort was all out. Based on that intensity, scientists programmed a computer to pace individual efforts at 85% of maximal oxygen consumption. A third trial was self-paced.

True Strength Moment: Ratings of perceived exertion were greatest for the all-out effort, and power output was lower during a 4 KM time trial after that session. If you’re tapering for competition, self-pacing your HIIT training in the lead up might help you arrive at the starting line fresh.

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