The 20/20/20 Aerobic Capacity Workout
Build your VO2 Max with this 15-minute lung-buster, which alternates between sprints on the treadmill and jump squats
We hope you got a good night’s rest and are bursting with energy, because this 20/20/20 workout is 15 minutes of high-intensity work. It’s been devised by former commando and performance specialist Thibo David and involves cycling between a 20-second sprint and 20 jump squats 20 times. This type of workout is ideal for building or maintaining VO2 Max because your heart rate remains high during the resting period, which contributes to building aerobic capacity.
“I use this type of programme with top athletes in their tapering phases,” says David, “particularly boxers who, close to a fight date, will need to peak. This workout, used on its own, is very good at doing that because of its demand on the nervous system. The added benefit is the afterburn effect, which will push the metabolism to burn fat up to 48 hours after finishing it due to its high caloric demand.”
How To Do This Workout
This workout asks you to sprint at 20km/h, which runners may better recognise as a pace of 3min/km. That’s a very challenging speed and you should consider whether you can hit that pace and hold it 20 times in a row before committing to it – especially when your “rest” is a bunch of jump squats. There’s no harm in adjusting the speed to your level – or even better, use a self-powered treadmill or run on a running track so if you can’t maintain the speed you just slow down, rather than having to keep up with a set speed on a treadmill.
It’s imperative to warm up thoroughly before attempting this session. Start with this treadmill warm-up routine and add on another six minutes of slow jogging. Set the treadmill to an incline of 0.5%, which better mimics the conditions of regular road running.
As you progress in the workout, the rounds will take longer, but try to keep rest to an absolute minimum. This can also be used as a workout finisher after a longer workout.
1A Treadmill sprint
Sets 20 Speed 20km/h
Increase the speed on the treadmill to 20km/h and run at that pace for 20 seconds. When the time is up, stop the treadmill and let the belt slow to a stop before jumping off.
1B Jump squat
Sets 20 Reps 20
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and push your hips back until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then push through your heels explosively to jump straight up. Land softly and go into the next rep.
More Treadmill Workouts
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Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.