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Part Two of Three on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Variations for the Elite Level Athlete, and the rest of us…

HIIQT (High Intensity Interval Quality Training).  This type of training is all about progressively faster runs, several maximal efforts, with a lot of rest between runs.

This is a variation of HIIT using “high quality” training methods to get the most out of each run, quads and lungs. There are several ways to do this and depending on your level of experience, knowledge and conditioning, you can alter this formula. But however you slice it, these can be very tough, demanding and will slowly dismantle even the best athletes when done at the highest, hardest levels.

But, you don’t have to do it at the highest and hardest levels! Just start at some level to get going. Starting at a snails pace is better than the “couch” pace.

Here’s one of my routines: In this case, I was actually using a quarter mile track. I set up ten, 100 yard sprints at increasing speed intervals.

We’re going to take a lot of rest between runs to produce the highest quality runs possible. Highest quality does not necessarily mean fastest run. Sometimes speed just simply eludes you so in many cases, workouts are measured by effort, not speed. This is a bit nuanced but meaningful. (Email me if you have further questions on this.)

So mine might look like this: I run the first 100 yards at about 70%. Then, as slow as I can do it, I walk around the track to the starting point. I take a lot of time with the walk. This rest is critical to this particular routine so take it. Walk slow. No matter how much rest you think you’re getting, it won’t be as much as you think, and you will inevitably find that out on about the 3rd or 4th sprint, not later.

Here are two of my HIIQT methods I’ve used. (Vary the number of runs in both routines to fit your current level of training.)

Routine One:

  1. First of ten 100 yard runs at 70% of speed capacity.
  2. Second of ten 100 yard runs at 75% of speed capacity.
  3. Third of ten 100 yard runs at 80% of speed capacity.
  4. Fourth of ten 100 yard runs at 85% of speed capacity.
  5. Fifth of ten 100 yard runs at 90% of speed capacity.
  6. Sixth of ten 100 yard runs at 95% of speed capacity.
  7. Seventh of ten 100 yard runs at 100% of speed capacity or best effort.
  8. Repeat #7 for 8, 9 and 10.
  9. When done, take a long, slow walking cool down. 

Routine Two: This has fewer runs because each run is an all out effort

  1. First of seven 100 yard runs at 100% of speed capacity, all out, everything you have, 7 times through.After each sprint, move directly into the walk, and again, walk slowly. Take all the time you need between runs to arrive at the starting point again. It cannot be overstated that this rest is a critical part of this style of training. Do not underestimate the rest, take all of it.If you’re putting in a maximum effort and hitting it on all cylinders, you’ll absolutely need the rest. Without maximum rest, you will not complete the routine. You’ll blow out early. Rest is a necessary part of high quality training, during and following training.

Just a little side story, not to scare you off, but to hopefully make you smile a little bit, or even relate to it a little bit. But keep in mind that the outcome below was only a result of not taking the rest:

The first time I employed this with my Ragnar Relay team, which consists of my 3 of my brothers, my sagest turned towards me, smiling wryly and “knowingly,” and most assuredly informed me that this walking rest thing was providing “way too much rest.” I told him to trust me on this one, that’d I’ve lived a life of this kind of training and knew what I was doing, that he’d regret it if he didn’t take the rest.

Midway through the third sprint, he slowed to a jog and keep on running, right into the men’s room where he missed the next two or three sprints, but not the toilet bowl where he prayed heavily to the porcelain Gods.

This workout got him because he didn’t respect the rest!  Rest is very important with this kind of routine. It’s important to understand your body and what it can do. So adjust accordingly. Back to my brother – he did rejoin us for the last few runs and hung in there pretty well; but not before yet another return to the “Gods.”

One last note: on HIIT or HIIQT days, that’s all the training on those days that I do, nothing else. If done correctly, and within your own scope of fitness, it’ll be all you need on this day, and likely all you’ll need of this particular kind of workout per week.

I hope you found some value here and please do share!

Email me with any questions at [email protected].


As usual, consult your physician before conducting any exercise illustrated here, definitely if you’re pregnant or have any other ailments that might negatively affect your health. Be responsible make good decisions!


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