Science and Application of High Intensity Interval Training – The book

A preview to: The Science and Application of High Intensity Interval Training

Release date: towards the end of 2018

L&B - Science and Application of HIT

Most of us have heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – that so called time efficient training strategy we should use to improve our cardiorespiratory and metabolic health and performance. Today in fact, HIIT is considered the highest interest topic in our field. But as I’ve written, our ability to link much of the sport science research outputs derived from our academic institutions, including HIIT, into today’s elite sport practice, can often be considered limited by those it matters most to, the coaches and athletes in the trenches of high performance sport.

This past year, my colleague Paul Laursen and I have taken on the project of working towards putting a book together on the topic of HIIT and its real world application in high performance sport. The initiative stems from the popularity of a two-part literature review we wrote on the topic back in 2013 (Part I & Part II, see also the 2013 UKSCA presentation below). As shown in the infographic, Science and application of high-intensity interval training takes the reader though the history of HIIT and its traditional methods, before diving into our scientific understanding of how it can be used to gain a response in certain biological targets of importance for sport performance. From there, we break down the key components of an HIIT session (intensity, duration, recovery, etc) to learn how we can manipulate these factors to form different HIIT formats, or what we term our ‘weapons’. Our HIIT weapons can be further refined to hit the biological targets of importance, in line with the sport type, the individual, and the all-important sport context. Other important considerations covered include concurrent strength programming and health aspects, as well as load monitoring and individual response surveillance.

Most importantly, we are privileged to have gained the generous contributions of practitioners embedded within 20 high profile individual and team-based sports, who tell us precisely how they apply the science of HIIT in their practice to maximise athlete and sport performance. The detail they offer will leave the enthusiastic coach and sport scientist breathless. It is our hope that the work will inspire a future generation of sport scientists to think outside the box when it comes to high performance sport science research and HIIT application, and critically, narrow today’s void between science and practice.

Videos from the 2013 UKSCA Conference

(many thanks to them for making the link available to all)

Nb: White man before Yann Le Meur‘s Infographics 🙂


Shooting performance and fly time in highly-trained wing handball players: not everything is as it seems

Karcher C & Buchheit M. Shooting performance and fly time in highly-trained wing handball players: not everything is as it seems. IJSPP 2016

Full text here


Purpose: The aims of this investigation were to 1) assess the usefulness of counter movement jump (CMJ) testing to predict handball-specific jumping ability and 2) examine the acute effect of transiently- modified jumping ability (i.e., flight time) on shooting efficiency in wing players. Methods: Eleven young highly-trained wing players performed 3 counter movement jumps and 10 typical wing jump shots with 3 different modalities: without any constraint (CONTROL), while stepping on a 14-cm step (STEP) and wearing a weighted vest (VEST, 5% of body mass). Flight time and the associated scoring efficiency during the jump shots were recorded. Results:  There was no clear correlation between jump shot and CMJ flight time, irrespective of the condition (r=0.04-0.18). During jump shots, flight time was most likely longer (ES=1.42-1.97) with VEST (635.4±31 ms) and STEP (615.3±32.9 ms) than CONTROL (566±30.5 ms) and very likely longer with VEST than with STEP (ES=0.6). The correlation between scoring efficiency and jump shot flight time was not substantial both within each modality and for all shots pooled. The difference in scoring efficiency between the 3 jumps with the longest vs. shortest flight times were either small (VEST, 48% vs. 42%) or non-substantial (two other conditions). Conclusions: The use of CMJ as a predictor of handball-specific jumping ability is questioned given the dissociation between CMJ and jump shot flying time. These results also show that transiently-affected flight time may not affect scoring efficiency, which questions the importance of jumping ability for success in wing players.

 Key Words: shooting efficiency; strength training; transfer.

Effect of birth date on playing time during international handball competitions with respect to playing positions

Karcher, C, Ahmaidi S and Buchheit M. Effect of birth date on playing time during international handball competitions with respect to playing positions. Kinesiology 46(2014) 1:23-32. Full text here / Journal original website

Abstract: While a relative age effect (RAE) has been reported in handball, such analyses do not consider actual playing time during competitions, which may actually have more impact on performance in matches. The objective of the present study was to examine the RAE on playing time during international competitions with respect to playing positions. Team compositions (477 players) of the quarter finalists of the 2012 Olympic Games, 2013 World Championships, and 2014 European Championships were analyzed. Month and year of birth where collected in the starting list of each team for center, left and right backs, left and right wings, goalkeepers and pivots. Players were categorized into birth quartile (Q1 Jan–Mar; Q2 Apr–Jun; Q3 Jul– Sep; and Q4 Oct–Dec) and as odd/even year. Playing times were retrieved from official statistics. Data were analyzed for practical significance using magnitude-based inferences. We observed a strong selection bias towards players born earlier within a two-year selection period for all playing positions (Chi-square, p<.001). There was, however, an inconsistent effect of age (i.e. expected, reversed or a lack of it) on actual playing time during competitions. In conclusion, the present study showed for the first time that, despite its large effect on players’ selection, players’ relative age had a limited and position-dependent effect on their actual playing time during top-level competitions. Present findings suggest that the reasons supporting the relative age effect with respect to team selection are at odds with the current utilization of players by coaches in the field.

Key words: relative age effect, team selection, main competitions


Body Dimensions of Elite Handball Players

Karcher, C, Ahmaidi S and Buchheit M. Body Dimensions of Elite Handball Players With  Respect To Laterality, Playing Positions and Playing Standard. Journal of Athletic Enhancement SciTechnol, 2014, In press.


Purpose: The aim of the present study was to examine, using a large player database, between-playing positions and playing standard differences in body dimensions.

Methods: We compared stature and body mass of 1295 male elite handball players from different playing positions, i.e., backs (left and right), center backs, goalkeepers, pivots, wings (left and right) and playing standards (European championship, Champions league matches and national leagues from Germany, Spain and France).

Results: When all playing standards were pooled together, wings (left 185±6cm, right 185±6cm) were almost certainly slightly-to-moderately shorter than center backs (188±5 cm), which were slightly-to-largely shorter than backs (left 196±5cm, right 194±5cm), pivots (194±6cm) and goalkeepers (193±5cm). Pivots (100.1±9.1kg) were almost certainly slightly-to-very-largely heavier than the other positions, with backs (left 95.1±7.6kg, right 92.5±8kg) and goalkeepers (93.5±8.5kg) being moderately-to-largely heavier than wings (left 83.3±7.8kg, right 82.1±7kg) and center backs (88±7.6kg). Center, left and right backs were almost certainly slightly-to-moderately taller in the European championships, goalkeepers and right wings in Champions league, left backs in the German first league and pivots in the Spanish first league. Center and left backs were almost certainly slightly-to-moderately heavier in the European championship. Left wings were almost certainly slightly heavier in the German first league and pivots in the Spanish first league.

Conclusions: These data show the importance of considering players’ laterality when assessing their body dimensions. They might also serve as anthropometric benchmarks when profiling talented young players.

Key words: stature; body mass; anthropometric benchmarks; talent identification; players selection.


Sensitivity of heart rate and psychometric measures to monitor physical performance in handball

Buchheit, M. Sensitivity of heart rate and psychometric measures to monitor physical performance in handball. Int J Sports Med, 2014, In press. Full text herecropped-bandeauAbstract  The aim of the present study was to examine whether monthly resting heart rate (HR), HR variability (HRV) and psychometric measures can be used to monitor changes in physical performance in highly-trained adolescent handball players. Data were collected in 37 adolescent players (training 10±2.1 h.wk-1) at 11 occasions from September to May during the in-season period, and included an estimation of training status (resting HR and HRV, the profile of mood state (POMS) questionnaire), and three physical performance tests (a 10-m sprint, a counter movement jump and a graded aerobic intermittent test, 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test). The sensitivity of HR and psychometric measures to changes in physical performance was poor (<20%), irrespective of the training status markers and the performance measures. The specificity was however strong (>75%) irrespective of the markers and the performance measures. Finally, the difference in physical performance between players with better vs. worse estimated training status were all almost certainly trivial. The present results highlight the limitation of monthly measures of resting HR, HRV and perceived mood and fatigue to predict in-season changes in physical performance in highly-trained adolescent handball players. This suggests that more frequent monitoring might be required, and/or that other markers might need to be considered. Key words: heart rate variability; POMS; speed tests; counter movement jump, 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test; progressive statistics.

Programming High-intensity Training in Handball

Based on the 2-part HIT review (I and II) on HIT programming with my mate Paul Laursen, I provide in this new paper some examples on how to practically implement HIT with players, and compare the performance benefits of different HIT formats in highly-trained Handball players. Many thanks to Aspetar Journal for the nice formatting too !

Pages from Buchheit - Programming High-intensity Training in Handball