There are 2 terms/methods that come to mind when thinking of cardiovascular training particularly aerobic training, these terms are Aerobic Power and Aerobic Capacity. Aerobic capacity is defined as how long you can sustain activity for in an Aerobic state(with oxygen) think low to moderate intensity for long periods of time. Maximal Aerobic Power can be defined as the highest amount of oxygen/workload someone can produce/utilise in an aerobic state and is closely related to VO2 Max(think moderate to high intensity exercise).

How can we assess Aerobic Power?.

There are many methods you can use to assess Aerobic Power (Vo2 Max) which include some of the following Running MAS test, Lab Vo2 Max test and the one we are going to focus on today is ergometer testing. Using an ergometer(concept bike, assault bike, ski, row) we can complete a 3-4 minute all out maximal test where you are essentially trying to maintain the highest workload(watts) you can over the 3-4 minutes and you should be exhausted and have nothing left in the tank. From this test we gather what is called the MMP which stands for “Maximal Minute Power” and we can use this number to assess our progress over time by completing it again or we can use it to objectively prescribe in our ergometer conditioning sessions.

Training with HIIT and MMP

When training to increase our Aerobic Power/VO2 Max the aim is try and maximise and spend the most amount of time we can above 90% of your Max heart rate as this will produce the best cardiovascular outcomes and HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) is one of the most effective methods to do so as it is hard periods of work inter-sped with periods of rest. This is where the art of programming  a session must be a good balancing act between working hard and good adequate rest to ensure we can spend as much time as possible over this 90% heart rate during the session. Its not all about going as hard as possible in the first couple of minutes of a session with no rest until your very fatigued, doing this will result in less time in the 90% heart rate zone and more time in the 70-80% heart rate zone which induces a sub-optimal result.

So how do we know how hard to work? this is where the Maximal Minute Power/MMP from the ergometer test comes into play. The MMP is essentially the power/watts you need to work at to achieve VO2Max/90% heart rate and above, so we need to build and stick to these prescriptions.


HIIT Session examples

Below are some different examples/types of HIIT sessions with different approaches including Long/short interval sessions and different work:rest ratios.

  • 2 x 8 x 30/15 @100% MMP.   (2-3 mins rest between sets)
  • 3 x 10 x 20/10 @105% MMP.  (2-3 mins rest between sets)
  • 2 x 4 x 2min/1min @90% MMP  (2-3 mins rest between sets)
  • 2 x 4 x 90/30 @95% MMP. (2-3 mins rest between sets)


A lot of these principles will appear in some of the HIIT classes going forward, and as always if you need any help or want a more personalised approach to your conditioning, feel free to reach out!!