The background and benefits of VO2 max intervals, along with the proper techniques, were addressed previously in this excellent article. This profile enables riders to enhance VO2 max while also improving their confidence to tolerate the strong discomfort felt when riding above threshold. It’s based on the group fitness cliché that “You can do anything for a minute.” If something is humanly possible, even if it is very hard, it can quite often be done for a minute…maybe. The intent of this profile is to instill the belief in your riders that if something is realistically achievable, they can do it. This will encourage your participants to set challenging yet attainable goals. High-intensity intervals—working at and slightly above threshold for 30 to 90 seconds—are really hard but achievable. On the other hand, constant all-out sprinting for 30 to 90 seconds isn’t realistic or attainable for even the fittest individuals.
I introduce this profile by writing the letters “HIIT” on a mirror or whiteboard and explain the acronym for “high-intensity interval training.” I don’t do this intensity often in my classes, so I want riders to understand they will be pushing a very high intensity for short durations and that it will be extremely hard. I don’t dwell on the technical aspects. I ask if they have heard the saying “You can do anything for a minute.’” I respond, “Well, I’m not sure that you CAN do anything for a minute but you’re going to try!”