Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Psychology of High Intensity Interval Training

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is an approach to exercise that replaces extended workout routines with shorter, more intense periods of activity that alternate with periods of slowing down.  The graphic above depicts one approach to HIIT; this article outlines several common protocols.  HIIT is related to super slow approaches to strength conditioning, which emphasize the value of fewer repetitions performed slowly and carried out to the point of failure.  The idea is that the body achieves maximum adaptive response when it is challenged intensively for short periods of time.  This makes exercise time-effective as well as effective for aerobic conditioning and strength-building.

Interesting from a peak performance perspective is the psychological impact of HIIT.  Viewed as psychological training, HIIT can be seen as a system for routinely challenging one's limits.  Imagine starting every day by testing your limits and extending those.  Day after day, we become accustomed to extraordinary effort and we improve our capacity to sustain effort.  After all, when we push our limits with super slow activity and high intensity effort, we also have to sustain a high degree of focus and cognitive intensity.  As I wrote about the preparation routine of legendary wrestler and coach Dan Gable, his workout routine included intense visualization as well as physical effort.  His training extended to mind and body.

And what about training for traditional performance fields, from athletics to the performing arts to trading?  Would such training benefit from high intensity routines?  Would traders learn markets better if their learning did not take place in a classroom, but instead in an environment of intense simulation?  If we don't systematically test our limits, can we truly hope to extend them?  If we don't train for extraordinary effort, can we expect to summon our best in moments of challenge?  High intensity interval training may pose benefits across many domains, as a framework for self-development.

Further Reading:  Life's Formula for Success