Breathing achievements: when the air turns into triumph (Part 1)

“The breath you’re missing during training is the wind that pushes you towards your goals."

Hello Naturally Fit reader! If you’re here, you’re probably looking to optimize your training and achieve remarkable results in less time. Well, high-intensity training or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) could be an important part of what you need.
At PaleoTraining, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) takes on a unique dimension. Inspired by the ancient nature of human beings and their movement patterns, we recognize that our ancestors not only ran at maximum speed to hunt or avoid being hunted, but also had moments of moderate exertion and longer periods of constant, low activity. Therefore, our sessions are not only focused on high intensity, but also encompass medium and low cardiovascular intensity with strength sessions as the main stimulus in them. This variety not only reflects the diversity of challenges our ancestors faced, but also allows us to train holistically, adapting to the multifaceted demands of the modern world and maximizing our health and fitness results.

What is HIIT?

HIIT is a training method that combines short bursts of intense activity with periods of rest or lighter activity. You can find different HIIT modalities, such as the well-known Tabata, but there are infinite methods. We will now take a look at them.

Proven Benefits of HIIT

  1. Time Efficiency: A systematic review demonstrated that HIIT workouts, despite being short, are equally if not more effective than traditional endurance training in terms of cardiovascular improvement and reduction of body fat (Weston et al., 2014).
  2. Increased Post-Exercise Metabolism: According to another systematic review, HIIT elevates post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), meaning you continue to burn calories even after completing your workout (Boutcher, 2010).
  3. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: The body’s ability to use blood sugar can be enhanced with just 2 weeks of HIIT, which can be especially beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance or diabetes (Whyte et al., 2010).

Concurrent training

If we combine HIIT with resistance training, what we get is called concurrent training. This can maximize the benefits of both types of training. But beware, it is crucial to plan properly to avoid overtraining and ensure adequate recovery.

Effort vs. Pause Time

The relationship between exertion time and pause time is crucial in HIIT. While modalities such as Tabata are extremely intense with short rest periods, other methods, such as traditional HIIT, tend to have longer intervals of work and rest. It is vital to select the modality that best suits your goals and current fitness level.
Understanding training intensities is crucial to getting the desired results and training effectively and safely. We will classify the types of efforts, from the most intense (“all out”) to the most moderate efforts (“tempo” or intense aerobic zones). In addition, there is a known relationship between the fraction of VO2max (maximal oxygen consumption) associated with each type and the optimal number of sets to generate stimulus:

  1. All Out (Maximum Effort):
    VO2max: > 90%
    Duration: 10-30 seconds
    Rest: 2 (or until you feel fully recovered)
    Optimal Number of Sets: 4-6
  2. Sprints (High-Intensity Efforts):
    VO2max: 80-90%
    Duration: 30 seconds – 1 minute
    Rest: 1-2 minutes
    Optimal Number of Sets: 6-8
  3. VO2max Intervals (Maximum Aerobic Capacity Intervals):
    VO2max: 90-100% of personal VO2max
    Duration: 2-4 minutes
    Rest: Equal to effort duration or slightly shorter (for example, 2 minutes of effort, 1-2 minutes of rest).
    Optimal Number of Sets: 4-6
  4. Threshold:
    VO2max: 80-85%
    Duration: 5-10 minutes
    Rest: 2
    Optimal Number of Sets: 3-5
  5. Tempo (Moderate Efforts):
    VO2max: 70-80%
    Duration: 10-20 minutes
    Rest: 1-5 minutes (these longer intervals are often performed with fewer repetitions, so rest can be more extensive to ensure recovery).
    Optimal Number of Sets: 2-4
  6. Intense Aerobic Zones (Endurance):
    VO2max: 60-70%
    Duration: 20 minutes – 1 hour (can be longer if training for extreme endurance events)
    Rest: If breaking your training into blocks, rest can be 5-10 minutes between blocks.
    Optimal Number of Sets: 1-2 (due to the long duration of each effort).

Remember, these times and recommendations are guidelines. Individual needs, fitness level, altitude, temperature, and other factors can influence how you structure your intervals

Different HIIT protocols

There are different HIIT workouts with their advantages and challenges. To understand their patterns of effort and recovery, durations, frequencies, suitable types of exercises to perform them, benefits, comparisons between them, and other interesting details, stay tuned to Naturally Fit. Soon you’ll have all the information about these effective protocols.


Gibala, M. J., Little, J. P., MacDonald, M. J., & Hawley, J. A. (2012). Physiological adaptations to low‐volume, high‐intensity interval training in health and disease. The Journal of Physiology, 590(5), 1077-1084.
Weston, K. S., Wisløff, U., & Coombes, J. S. (2014). High-intensity interval training in patients with lifestyle-induced cardiometabolic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine, 48(16), 1227-1234.
Boutcher, S. H. (2010). High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. Journal of Obesity, 2011.
Whyte, L. J., Gill, J. M., & Cathcart, A. J. (2010). Effect of 2 weeks of sprint interval training on health-related outcomes in sedentary overweight/obese men. Metabolism, 59(10), 1421-1428.