Do you even SMIT? Supramaximal Interval Training

June 18, 2014

Sorry I’ve been so quiet on here! No excuses, just busy.

Today I wanted to talk about SMIT. No, not that one off “New Girl”. SMIT. Supramaximal Interval Training (you knew that, right?)

You’re no doubt familiar with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) – a cardio modality which involves repeating short periods of intense effort with even shorter periods of lower-intensity effort for recovery. There are various ways of doing HIIT, including a 2:1 ratio of work/recovery, and Tabata (20 seconds all-out effort, 10 seconds recovery, repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes work period). With HIIT, the effort is short but intense, and the recovery is shorter and medium effort. The idea is that the total session time isn’t long, but that you’re actually working for all of it (because you never give your system time to recover between intervals).

Anyway, move over HIIT. You’re so 2013. Today it’s all about SMIT.

I hadn’t heard of SMIT until this morning, when I read Nick Tumminello’s article about it (read it here). But I did know about it, because I’ve been doing it for years, both as part of my endurance-sport training back in the day, and more recently as a form of conditioning for bodybuilding contest prep. Only I don’t give it a name. I call it hill sprints, shuttle runs or track sessions (I have other names for this kind of session, but none are suitable for public conversation).

So, what’s SMIT and how is it different to HIIT?
Unlike HIIT, where the recovery/rest periods are active (usually about 50% of effort) and relatively short (typically shorter than the duration of the effort), with SMIT you need longer recovery. SMIT effort periods need to be all-out – think short sprints, hill reps, shuttle runs. You need to push yourself above your VO2-max (if you’ve ever done a VO2 max test, you’ll know what this feels like… !) The rest periods, however, are full rest. Slow jogging, probably even walking. Perhaps even a little lie on the ground before getting up and wandering around blinking the stars away from your eyes. You get the idea.

If you’re interested in reading more, check out this article on PubMed Endurance and sprint benefits of high-intensity and supramaximal interval training. And do read Nick Tumminello’s SMIT vs HIIT article , it contains lots of useful info about why SMIT may be better than HIIT, how to incorporate it into your training, and some session ideas.

As for me? Well, yes I do SMIT! And HIIT. And LISS (aka “walking the dog”). I’m currently doing hill springs (running) twice a week as part of the conditioning phase of my bodybuilding training. It takes me 30 minutes, and that includes walking/jogging to and from the bottom of the evil hill. No photos, sorry. SMIT is definitely not the kind of session which lends itself to selfies.

Do you do SMIT? Did you know you were doing it or do you just call it “cardio”, “intervals”, or “that session I dread/love/hate”?

Do you even SMIT? Supramaximal Interval Training is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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