10-20-30 Training

Jens Bangsbo and Thomas Gunnarsson from the University of Copenhagen have published the results (Journal of Applied Physiology) of a fascinating study comparing the effects of interval training to regular endurance training. A group of moderately trained runners was split into 2 groups: over a 7-week period the control group continued their normal runs and the interval group replaced their usual runs with the 10-20-30 protocol.

The 10-20-30 protocol consisted of a 1km warm-up followed by 3-4 5 min blocks of interval training. Each block was followed by 2 min of recovery. The interval training was made of low, moderate and high-speed running (<30%, <60% and >90% of maximal intensity) for 30, 20 and 10 sec respectively.

Although the total training volume in the interval group was less than half that of the control group (14 km/week vs 30 km/week), it produced some amazing results. At the end of the study, the 10-20-30 group increased their VO2 max (maximal oxygen consumption) by 4% and improved their 1500 m and 5 km runs by 21 sec and 48 sec respectively. In addition to this, they significantly decreased their systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.

So despite a 50% reduction in training volume, 10-20-30 interval training improves the performance and health of trained runners.