PER:FORM Explained: High Intensity Training for Maximum Results

PER:FORM workouts within the GRAVITY Studio grant permission for us as coaches and clients to take our workouts to a whole new level – higher levels of workout, of camaraderie and of results.

High intensity training for specified interval levels, or HIIT as it’s more commonly known, is a proven method of getting better results in terms of fat loss and improved body composition that steady-state aerobic exercise.

Within our first PER:FORM workouts, we have adopted a 2:1 work/rest ratio featuring work intervals of 20 seconds and rest intervals of 10 seconds. We’re asking you to push maximally in the work periods, in the knowledge that the rest periods are complete recovery. This has come to be known as the ‘Tabata’ protocol, featuring eight cycles of the 2:1 work/rest ratio in four-minute intervals.


Background to Tabata

An early version of HIIT was based on a 1996 study by Professor Izumi Tabata et al. initially involving Olympic speed-skaters, using 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise (at an intensity of about 170% of VO2max) followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated continuously for four minutes (eight cycles).

The exercise was performed on a mechanically braked cycle ergometer. Tabata called this the ‘IE1 protocol’. In the original study, athletes using this method trained four times per week, plus another day of steady-state training, and obtained gains similar to a group of athletes who did steady state (70% VO2max) training five times per week. The steady state group had a higher VO2max at the end (from 52 to 57 ml/kg/min), but the Tabata group had started lower and gained more overall (from 48 to 55 ml/kg/min). Also, only the Tabata group had gained anaerobic capacity benefits (meaning they could push harder at the very hardest end of the working scale).

Using the Tabata Protocol for PER:FORM

We need to be clear that we’re only borrowing the name and the four-minute protocol from the above exercise. Don’t kid yourself – for as high intensity as we might be able to make our four-minute intervals in PER:FORM, there’s no way we can work at 170% of VO2 max in small group training. It needs to be hard, but it’ll never be that hard. Also, if we can keep doing it for an hour, it’s not truly Tabata. So, as with most things in fitness, we’re changing the rules and making them suit our circumstances, but we need to be clear that what we’re doing is more “modified-Tabata” than anything else.

Nevertheless, if you can push yourself towards your maximum effort levels for each of the 20-second intervals in the workout, PER:FORM promises to deliver real results in record time.