The 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test – two decades of learnings

Written by Paul Laursen

December 6, 2021

Two decades? Really?

Yep. Another masterpiece released by Martin in Sport Performance & Science Reports on his baby — the 30-15 intermittent fitness test (30-15IFT). After 20 years of use, the test is now implemented all over the world, mainly in team, racquet and combat sports.  Why? Because the final velocity reached at the end of the simple test (VIFT) forms a compound measure of maximal aerobic power, anaerobic speed reserve, inter-effort recovery and change of direction (COD) abilities – all components that matter for for team and racquet sport performance. The increasing numbers of publications and google searches over this time attest to the continued interest from both academics and practitioners globally. The test appeals to athletes, coaches, and sports scientists within various clubs, institutes, and National teams, and continues to be one of the most-used field tests for assessing high-intensity intermittent running performance and programming of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) (1, 3). In this short blog post, we’ll share the key practical applications you can expect when it comes to integrating the 30-15IFT in practice.

 

The best test to program HIIT

The 30-15IFT is the only field test that can be used to assess both an athletes’ high-intensity intermittent exercise performance capability while simultaneously attaining relevant data to be used for short interval HIIT programming. Full stop. Since performance during the test is a strong reflection of both the locomotor and metabolic profiles of an athlete, using the velocity achieved in the final stage of the 30-15IFT (VIFT) as a reference speed for run-based HIIT prescription allows for tight individualization of metabolic and perceptive training load when performing short interval HIIT.

Figure 1. Typical aerobic, anaerobic and neuromuscular loads (internal & external) associated with the 30-15IFT.

 

Integrate into your training week and session

When it comes to programming the 30-15IFT within a typical training session of the weekly microcycle, both the internal and external load achieved from the test (Figure 1) can replace that of a specific technical/tactical sequence. This can be highly convenient, and can often be programmed as early as the 1st or 2nd week of pre-season (i.e., Figure 2 and 3).

Figure 2. Total distance (TD), mechanical work (MW), time above 90% heart rate max and high speed running (HSR) associated with typical team sport training content and integration of the 30-15IFT in a weekly microcycle.

Figure 3. Suggested placement of the 30-15IFT for a typical team sport training session such as that shown in Figure 2.

 

Great sensitivity to training

As we often say — measure what matters. And here with the 30-15IFT, we have a test and a result, where changes of between 1 and 1.5 km/h in VIFT can be considered as meaningful at the individual level. Moreover, HIIT supplementation often leads to 1 to 1.5 km/h improvements in VIFT, with unlikely further benefits beyond training periods of longer than 2-4 weeks (4-8 sessions; Figure 4).

Figure 4. Training induced changes in VIFT after 4-8 sessions, 8-12 sessions and 16-18 sessions.

 

As nothing is perfect, research is still needed…

We often read just that, but its really true. More research is needed to understand the benefit of prescribing HIIT using VIFT versus the entire locomotor profile [i.e., maximal aerobic speed (MAS), maximal sprinting speed (MSS) and the anaerobic speed reserve (ASR)]. In theory, results should be pretty similar given the fact that MAS and MSS together accurately predict VIFT, and since VIFT also integrates COD ability. In fact, it could even possess superiority to the MAS + MSS combo. But we need help from the research community to know. Practical considerations, such as and the ability to test MSS and/or use a linear and continuous MAS test may pose more decisive factors in this regard, with the decision left to practitioners within their own context at the end of the day.

Conclusion

It has been a solid 20 years for the 30-15IFT, and we look forward to watching it continue to grow over the next 20. Thanks for your help along the way.

References

  1. Bok, D and Foster, C. Applicability of Field Aerobic Fitness Tests in Soccer: Which One to Choose?J. Funct. Morphol. Kinesiol. 2021, 6(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk6030069
  2. Buchheit, M, Dickmen, U Vassallo, C. The 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test – two decades of learnings. SPSR, 2021.
  3. Laursen & Buchheit. Science and Application of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Solutions to the Programming Puzzle. Human Kinetics. 2018.

 

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