Credit: University of Montreal

Interval training is the best way to improve your cardiorespiratory shape and overall athletic performance. It works for everyone, from an elite athlete preparing for the Olympics, to a regular weekend athlete to a patient who wants to improve their physical condition.

There are many tools available to help kinesiologists, coaches and athletes plan interval training sessions, but none of them is suitable for juggling all factors: the nature of the exercise, the number, duration and intensity of low and high intensity intervals, the number of approaches.

Guy Thibault, an exercise physiologist and associate professor at the School of Kinesiology and Physical Activity Sciences (EKSAP) at the University of Montreal, wanted to do something about it.

Thibaut recently retired as research director of the Institute of National Sports in Quebec (INS) and is now devoting himself to developing a web application for interval training in his field.

He is delighted with the project: “This is the culmination of a 35-year scientific career, the task of a lifetime,” he said.

A talented team

Existing interval training programs use mathematical models — algorithms designed to balance the complexity of each session and ensure progression — but even the most popular can come up with exercises that are physically impossible.

“Models that have come into vogue sometimes prescribe classes during which the simulator must perform the first burst of activity with an intensity above their record, which obviously does not make sense,” – said Thibaut, pointing to computer simulation he recently performed.

Thibault is working to develop a more powerful and user-friendly model in which the degree of difficulty can be monitored at any time based on training needs. To do this, he teamed up with Jonathan Tremblay, a physiologist and professor at EKSAP, and Jeremy Bryand, a master’s student at exercise physiology in UdeM, a data scientist at INS and a Canadian triathlon champion.

Together, they developed a graphical model of a rotating cube that includes all the parameters of interval training. The final algorithm will give users complete control over the level of difficulty; no session will be too easy or too difficult.

An app for everyone

Although the application of Tibo and his team may seem daunting, it is not just for initiations. Everyone will be able to use it when it comes out, currently scheduled for early 2023.

“Basically, we’re developing an app based on high-level athletes and their coaches, but they’ll just enjoy it,” Thibault said. “You don’t need to have a science education or understand math to appreciate its features.”

This is the real motivation of Thibaut: to help people regardless of their level, and to explain the science of physical activity and sports unprofessionally.

“After all, what makes me happiest in life is when someone tells me that thanks to my advice or methods they or their athletes have improved,” he said. – I almost have tears in my eyes.

Citation: Using Mathematics to Improve Workout (2022, May 17) Retrieved May 17, 2022, from

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