If your level of fitness is fairly low then almost any form of regular fitness training will give you results.
But what if you’re already reasonably fit and looking to push-on to another level? Or if you just want to get fitter, quicker. In that case, you should look at 10-20-30 training, which has been scientifically proven to be a highly effective training method, even for those who are already fit.
The amazing thing about this method is that it has also been shown to be more effective than regular running, and delivers bigger benefits even covering half the distance you might ordinarily do.
Sounds like something you might be interested in? We thought so.
What is 10-20-30 training?
The principle is very simple: you work at low, medium and high pace for different intervals of time. The routine goes like this:
Start with a warm-up of running approximately 1.2km at a low intensity. Do any dynamic stretching you need to get fully warmed up.
Once warmed up repeat the following sequence of runs five times, with no breaks in between:
- 30 seconds of low intensity jogging (30% of maximum intensity)
- 20 seconds of moderate intensity running (60% of maximum intensity)
- 10 seconds of high intensity sprinting (90% of maximum intensity)
Five of those will obviously take you 5 minutes. After that, you have earned two minutes of rest.
But you don’t stop there. The five minute set should be repeated again, followed by another two minute break. In total, you should do three or four of these five-minute sets with two minutes of rest in between each.
Do three five-minute sets if you’re just starting (or two if you’re really struggling). Work up to doing four sets when you’ve built up your fitness levels.
How hard is it?
We’re not going to lie, if you’re sticking rigidly to the plan and operating at the intensities suggested, even just one five-minute set will be difficult for a person with a low level of fitness.
Two sets will be challenging for a person of moderate fitness. Three requires an extremely high level of fitness. Four? Well, you can imagine it will take you places you aren’t going to enjoy. If you’re really struggling with this routine but still want to train at different intensities, then try something slightly less structured and less intense from our Fartlek training guide.
Why is 10-20-30 training so great?
In a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the effects of this type of training were observed for a group of already-fit athletes. Prior to the study, all of them had been doing between two and four weekly training sessions registering an average weekly mileage of around 27km, with their total training time each week being a little over two hours.
For the study, half of the group carried on with their existing training routine and the other half did the 10-20-30 fitness routine three times per week.
After seven weeks, the fitness results of the two groups were compared and the findings were startlingly in favour of the group who had done the 10-20-30 training. The following benefits were recorded:
- VO2 Max (a measure of ability to use oxygen) had increased by 4%
- The group’s time for 1500m runs improved by an average of 21 seconds
- The group’s time for 5km runs improved by 48 seconds
- Blood pressure improved and cholesterol was lowered.
- All of this had been achieved even with the group having run less than half of the weekly distance they did before!
Meanwhile, the group who continued with their single-speed runs made no significant gains at all. And, of course, they had run about twice the distance the 10-20-30 group did – pretty irritating, eh?
The results clearly showed that regular repetition of this high-intensity training had significant advantages over standard running. By taking maximum heart rate to over 90% through short but sustained sprints, it appears to outdo more traditional forms of endurance run training.
Add 10-20-30 training to your workout
10-20-30 training is just one form of high intensity interval training that can be used to improve fitness levels, even for already fit people. By switching between high and low speeds, it makes this an excellent training tool for sports that also require regular changes of pace, such as football, basketball etc.
Yes, other types of interval training or Fartlek routines can be performed, but this one is a great start, which has been scientifically proven.
As we’ve found above, it has been proven to be more effective than single-pace runs covering almost twice the distance! So, it’s better for fitness, more convenient, and reduces potential wear you’re placing on your body. What more incentive could you want to give this a try? Stop going for those long pavement-pounding runs and start giving this a go instead.
Credit for the awesome icons used in the graphic above go to Yamini Ahluwalia, Diego Naive and Desbenoit. Icons have been used under creative commons license.