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HIIT - Gibala Regimen (The Little Method)

Gibala Intervals also known as "The Little Method" or "The One Minute Workout" is less known than Tabata Intervals, but you should try these intervals in your class and see just how effective they are!

High Intensity Interval Training (background)

In the fitness industry, High Intensity Interval Training (better known as HIIT) has become popular in recent years. Research has shown that HIIT training has a particularly positive impact on our progress. HIIT covers short intense anaerobic intervals (intensity scale 10) with short breaks (intensity scale 1-5). The HIIT training session (not intervals) can be done in a range of 4-30 minutes and the most used formula for the intervals is 2: 1 - for example. 30 second interval: 15 second recovery.

Gibala Intervals (The Little Method)

Professor Martin Gibala and his research team at McMaster University in Canada made a study in 2009 of the effect of HIIT training against steady state training. In the experiment, the students warmed up for 3 minutes, after which they completed 60 seconds of intensive work at 95% of VO2max followed by a 75 second recovery. A total of 8-12 intervals were conducted 3 times a week. The control group exercised 40-60 minutes at 50-70% of VO2max 5 times a week. The two groups achieved roughly the same results and the study therefore shows that HIIT intervals are more time-effective than steady state intervals (if we meassure improved fitness level alone)

Suitable for members in the gym!

Where Tabata intervals are performed with 170% of VO2max, Gibala Intervals is performed with only 95% of VO2max and is therefore more "friendly" to the regular members that might not have what it takes to do 170% VO2max (200% FTP) for 8 x 20 seconds). Obviously, higher results are obtained at higher intensity, but Gibala Intervals are still recommended as good intervals in your class.

Summary Gibala Intervals

- Warm up for 3 minutes

-60 second ACC on 95% of VO2max (about 85-90% of maximum heart rate and 110% FTP)

- 75 second recovery

- Repeat 8-12 times

Need inspiration?

If you need inspiration for HIIT workouts, we have more than 50 HIIT workouts ready to use at www.intelligent-cycling.com


Little, J.P.; Safdar, A,: Wilkin, G.P,: Tarnopolsky, M.A.; Gibala, M.J (2010)

High-intensity interval training (HIT) induces skeletal muscle metabolic and performance adaptations that resemble traditional endurance training despite a low total exercise volume. Most HIT studies have employed ‘all out’, variable-load exercise interventions (e.g. repeated Wingate tests) that may not be safe, practical and/or well tolerated by certain individuals. Our purpose was to determine the performance, metabolic and molecular adaptations to a more practical model of low-volume HIT. Seven men (21 ± 0.4 years, ml kg−1min−1) performed six training sessions over 2 weeks. Each session consisted of 8–12 × 60 s intervals at ∼100% of peak power output elicited during a ramp peak test (355 ± 10 W) separated by 75 s of recovery. Training increased exercise capacity, as assessed by significant improvements on both 50 kJ and 750 kJ cycling time trials (P < 0.05 for both). Skeletal muscle (vastus lateralis) biopsy samples obtained before and after training revealed increased maximal activity of citrate synthase (CS) and cytochrome c oxidase (COX) as well as total protein content of CS, COX subunits II and IV, and the mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam) (P < 0.05 for all). Nuclear abundance of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ co-activator 1α (PGC-1α) was ∼25% higher after training (P < 0.05), but total PGC-1α protein content remained unchanged. Total SIRT1 content, a proposed activator of PGC-1α and mitochondrial biogenesis, was increased by ∼56% following training (P < 0.05). Training also increased resting muscle glycogen and total GLUT4 protein content (both P < 0.05). This study demonstrates that a practical model of low volume HIT is a potent stimulus for increasing skeletal muscle mitochondrial capacity and improving exercise performance. The results also suggest that increases in SIRT1, nuclear PGC-1α, and Tfam may be involved in coordinating mitochondrial adaptations in response to HIT in human skeletal muscle.


[1] Little, J. P.; Safdar, A.; Wilkin, G. P.; Tarnopolsky, M. A.; Gibala, M. J. (2010). “A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: Potential mechanisms”. The Journal of Physiology 588 (6): 1011. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2009.181743.PMID 20100740.

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