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HEALTH & FITNESS

Are the 3-minute warm-up, recovery, and cool-down important? Why? What happens in those 3 minutes?

Yes, all these components are important. The High Octane Ride™ protocol is based on the latest scientific research and is designed with the best current understanding of exercise physiology. There are three 3-minute “slow” periods and two 20-second intense sprints. The reasons for including the different components of the training session are as follows:

The first 3-MINUTE WARM-UP is important to prevent injuries to your joints and muscles, and prepares your heart and muscles for the high-intensity sprints to come.

Tip: Go really slowly and follow the instructions on your console. Stay within the blue band on your console’s screen. The software on High Octane Ride takes away the guesswork for you!

The 3-MINUTE RECOVERY after the first sprint is important to allow your muscles to recover sufficiently to be able to produce an effective second sprint. During this time your muscles restore their levels of a molecule called phosphocreatine, which is a very important source of energy used to fuel the first half of each sprint. Restoring these levels takes about three minutes. Follow the instructions on your console. Deep breaths and very slow pedaling are key.

The 3-MINUTE COOL-DOWN is crucial, and should always be completed! This is important! When you perform the sprints the blood vessels in your leg muscles will open as wide as they can in order to let lots of blood go through to provide the muscles with oxygen and fuel for the exercise. This means that your blood pressure may temporarily drop a little. Unlike high blood pressure, low blood pressure is not unhealthy. However, if you would suddenly get off the bike immediately after a sprint, gravity may pull even more blood into your leg muscles, and for a few seconds cause the blood supply to your brain to be reduced. This can cause you to feel light-headed and experience ‘wobbly legs’, but in rare cases it may also cause you to see black before your eyes and fall over. Performing the cool down after the second sprint allows your body to normalise the changes in your blood pressure to avoid this from happening. If you do ever feel light-headed after an exercise session the best thing to do is to sit down for a bit until it passes. Keep your head low to help your heart pump more blood to your brain against gravity; you should feel fine very soon.

Why do some people feel nauseous? What is the best way to avoid this?

A 20 second sprint sounds short... until you sit on a HOR™ and do one! These sprints actually present a very powerful stimulus to your muscles and are quite tiring. Your first three rides will be “ramp-up” sessions that have shorter than normal sprints at lower intensities. This allows your body to get used to this very different type of exercise. Most people will recover very quickly and feel fine by the time they step off the bike at the end of the 10 minute session. Still, some people experience nausea and may need quite a bit of time to recover from this. So what causes this?

One of the key principles underpinning the effectiveness of the sprints used in a High Octane Ride™ session is that the very high exercise intensities you can achieve will result in production of a lot of lactic acid in the muscles. This lactic acid is transported from your muscles to your bloodstream and then removed by your heart and liver. Lactic acid is a harmless substance in itself, but most people do not perform high-intensity exercise very often and therefore are not used to the very sudden increase in blood lactic acid levels after the two sprints. When something unfamiliar like this happens in the body, ‘alarm bells’ will go off in the brain: the brain doesn’t like unexpected things to happen to the body. Thus, the brain may try to protect the body by making you feel nauseous so you stop doing the thing that caused the unexpected event; in this case the increase in lactic acid associated with exercise.

At the moment it is impossible to predict who will experience nausea, but it is something that can easily be prevented by following our protocol and by making sure you don’t eat too much before your session. Most people stop feeling nauseous completely after having done this type of exercise for a few weeks. However, some fatigue after the sprints will be there if you give it your best!

Tip: Never do your High Octane Ride™ sessions when you feel under the weather. If you are ill then you will not gain any benefits from the session, and illness makes it much more likely that you will feel nauseous. Only do your High Octane Ride™ sessions when you feel well, and at least several days after you have fully recovered from any illnesses.

Tip: Avoid doing your High Octane Ride™ sessions in the morning without having had anything to eat since the previous evening. Similarly, do not do the High Octane Ride™ sessions after eating a large meal. Ideally you should have a light snack about 30 minutes before exercise, but by trial and error you can find out what is most comfortable for you.

Any tips on ‘technique’? How do I get the most out of the sprints?

If you use the High Octane Ride™ then you don’t need to guess anything at all because each step is precisely calibrated, unique to you and automated. You are guided throughout the session. Just remember to go slow in the rest sessions and give it 100% in the sprints. Follow the instructions and you will soon be setting records and topping league tables!

I don’t believe it! Is 10 minutes of exercise really enough?

Believe it or not, it is true. Ten years of research, bestseller books are testimony to the effectiveness of this type of exercise. The catch? Well, the exercise has to follow a very specific protocol. Just going for a 10 minute easy bike ride or going jogging for 10 minutes won’t do the trick. Even following the High Octane Ride™ protocol by sprinting on a regular gym-bike will not give you the results you want. The exercise has to include a very specific type of cycling sprint which cannot be done on a regular gym or home bike. The correct type of sprint is called a ‘Wingate’ sprint in research, and allows you to reach much higher exercise intensities than other types of exercise. Until recently these sprints were only done in laboratories for research purposes, but we have developed a system on which these sprints can easily be performed in an office or home environment.

Why don't I sweat?

To understand this you need to know why exercise makes you sweat. It’s because you get hot. The longer you exercise, the more heat you produce and your body sweats to cool you back down.

High Octane Ride™ sessions are not associated with sweating because the sprints are simply too short for you to heat up. This does not mean that it won’t be possible for a few drops to appear on your forehead, especially if you are in a warm room or have layers on but you will rarely feel ‘sweaty’ or require a shower afterwards. In all our tests in the office with people wearing work clothes, we did not have a single person sweating enough to feel “sweaty” or require a shower.

Tip: Make sure you pedal slowly in the rest periods. Other than doing the necessary physiological jobs of preparing you and restoring you, these sessions need to be slow so that you don’t heat up. Go outside the console’s blue zone and you may start sweating.

Tip: If you do get hot, run cold tap water on your wrists for 30 seconds or so and you will soon cool down.

Will I lose fat?

Yes but HOR™ is not a magical solution that will allow you to shed weight overnight. It works best in tandem with some dietary changes and we have uploaded some nutritional guidelines for registered users.

The problem for many people is that dieting is difficult, especially when doing more exercise as this often increases appetite and makes it more difficult to stick to a diet.

Scientific studies have proven that volunteers doing exercise similar to that used in High Octane Ride™ sessions were observed to lose more body fat than volunteers doing regular moderate intensity exercise like brisk walking or jogging. There is now evidence that the short sprints used in High Octane Ride™ sessions suppress appetite-regulating hormones. This may cause you to eat less after your High Octane Ride™ sessions, and it may make it easier to stick to a diet.

Please remember that all the research papers required participants to stick to the protocol regularly and for a minimum of eight weeks. So, be patient and results will come.

Will I get fitter?

Absolutely. Regularly (three times a week) performing your High Octane Ride™ sessions is very likely to help you improve your fitness. Scientific studies have shown that most people doing this type of exercise will improve their fitness as well as reduce their risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

However, we were not all created equal! Research has shown that about 20% of the population will not gain a lot in fitness because of their genetic disposition. Even if your genes don’t help you get hugely improve fitness, you will still get benefits from exercise. Your heart will be stronger and your overall cardiovascular system will be more “oiled” and you will just “feel” better. Also, as we age, we lose muscle. HOR™ will ensure you don’t do this. Finally, there is the risk of diabetes and deteriorating sugar metabolism as we age and become sedentary. HOR™ will ensure this does not happen.

How will I know I am fitter?

There are various ways you can find out whether you have improved your fitness:

Firstly, we expect that within a few weeks of regularly using High Octane Ride™ you will simply ‘feel’ fitter: your body will feel good, you won’t get out of breath as quickly, and simple tasks like walking up a flight of stairs or running after the kids will be easier.

Secondly, watch your Octane Score. Our proprietary algorithm tells you how much extra power you are producing per heartbeat. The fitter you get, the higher your OS.

An excellent way to observe improved fitness levels is to check how quickly your heart rate recovers after the High Octane Ride™ sprints. The sprints will make your heart rate go up rapidly, probably almost reaching your maximal heart rate, but after each sprint it will slowly return to resting levels. As you get fitter this will happen faster. Check for example your heart rate at the end of the High Octane Ride™ session. Then, after a few weeks of regularly doing your sessions, check your heart rate at the end of a session again: your fitness has improved if your heart rate is lower than before.

Thirdly, improving your fitness is likely to reduce your resting heart rate. The best time to measure your resting heart rate is in the morning, just after you wake, but when you are still lying in bed. Feel your pulse and count the number of beats in 60 seconds. If after a period of training the number of beats in one minute is reduced, this means your fitness has improved.

Finally, the laboratory way to measure fitness is to pay to get a ‘VO2max test’ done at a medical facility or training centre. This test measures the maximal amount of oxygen you can take up in a minute, which is currently the best measure of fitness. Endurance athletes tend to have very high values for VO2max, whereas people who do not do much exercise tend to have low values. VO2max is also one of the best measures for future risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease: the higher your VO2max, the lower your risk of developing these diseases.

High Octane Ride

The exact protocol

Watch the tutorial video here The exact protocol used in the High Octane Ride sessions is based on scientific research. The sessions are 10 minutes long, and consist of easy pedalling interspersed with two brief sprints. The first sprint starts at 3 minutes, and the second sprint starts at 6 minutes 20 seconds. Your first three rides are ramp-up rides, designed to ease you into this type of exercise. Ramp-up Sprints will be shorter and lighter and will gradually get longer until you do 20 second sprints at the optimum resistance for you. This resistance is a moving target. It may get lighter or heavier depending on your past performance.

Scientifically, how does it work?

THE SHORT EXPLANATION

For exercise to be beneficial it needs to be strenuous enough to challenge your heart and muscles. This can be achieved in different ways:

• You can spend relatively large amounts of time doing exercise at low intensities

• Or you can do shorter exercise sessions if the exercise intensity is higher

By using a very special type of cycle sprint, High Octane Ride allows you to reach the highest exercise intensities you can possibly achieve, and therefore it can be very, very short. This may sound very tiring, but because the exercise is so short - just 20-seconds per sprint - you will recover very fast (in fact, the exercise is so short you won’t even sweat much, so you won’t need a shower afterwards and don’t need to change into sports kit: bonus!). To achieve these really high exercise intensities a special bike with special software is needed, and this means you cannot do this in the gym or at home. We have developed an integrated system that enables you to optimally do this scientifically proven short exercise protocol.

THE ‘EASY’ EXPLANATION

For exercise to be effective at improving health and fitness, exercise has to be performed regularly and each exercise bout needs to be strenuous enough to challenge your heart and your muscles. ‘Strenuous enough’ can be achieved in a variety of different ways. For example, if the exercise intensity is low then you need to exercise for longer. This is what current physical activity guidelines are based on: government recommendations are to perform moderate intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week because it is thought that making the exercise easier will prevent people from being put off by getting tired with higher intensity exercise. Although moderate intensity exercise (for example brisk walking) is indeed not particularly hard, if you do it for at least 30 minutes then it will sufficiently challenge your heart and muscles, and therefore if you do this regularly you can expect health benefits. However, many people cannot find the time to adhere to these recommendations, or they find the exercise boring.

As an alternative, shorter exercise can also challenge your heart and muscles but then the exercise intensity needs to increase. If you go jogging or running, then doing 30 minutes per day on most days of the week is not necessary; less exercise will be sufficient to get the same health benefits. But with jogging and running you do not reach the highest exercise intensities you can manage, for this you need to sprint. And even sprinting can be done in various different ways. The sprints that allow you to reach the highest exercise intensities you can achieve are called ‘Wingate’ sprints. You only need to do these twice for 20 seconds to sufficiently challenge your heart and your muscles. You also do not have to do this type of exercise as often as what current physical activity guidelines prescribe: just three sessions per week is enough, compared with the minimum of five sessions per week that are needed if you follow the standard guidelines.

THE SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION

Training adaptations (such as improvements in fitness and reduced risk of chronic disease like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease) occur as the results of the accumulation of specific proteins induced by a repeated exercise stimulus. In order for this to happen, exercise needs to activate molecular signalling pathways leading to increased transcription of target genes encoding these proteins. Over the past decade or so, much progress has been made in identifying the key signalling molecules responsible, including for example transcription of target AMPK, p38 MAPK and PGC1α. Activating these signalling molecules will result in activation of transcriptional programmes leading to increases in mitochondrial density, increased oxidative enzyme activity and molecules involved in transport of glucose into muscle cells (i.e. GLUT4), etc.

There is evidence to suggest that muscle glycogen levels play an important role in this process. Glycogen binds AMPK, rendering it inactive. Glycogen use, such as during prolonged or high-intensity exercise, releases AMPK. By-products of energy turnover associated with exercise, such as ADP and AMP, enable phosphorylation and activation of AMPK, followed by translocation to the cell nucleus, and activation of a range of transcription factors including PGC1α.

Whereas submaximal aerobic exercise is associated with a low level of glycogen depletion, and therefore needs to be of sufficiently long duration (e.g. >30 minutes) to release and activate AMPK, ‘all-out’ Wingate-type sprints as used in HOR rapidly activate glycogen phosphorylase and lead to breakdown of 20-30% of muscle glycogen stores in as little as 15 seconds. As this releases sufficient substrate for a large amount of physical activity, subsequent sprints do not break down muscle glycogen stores any further. However, subsequent sprints do further convert ATP to ADP and AMP, increasing the activation of AMPK activated in the first sprint. This is why the HOR protocol, based on research, incorporates two sprints: one for depleting glycogen and releasing AMPk, and a second for further activating AMPk through increasing levels of AMP.

A second effect of the rapid breakdown of muscle glycogen with ‘all-out’ Wingate sprints is the large increase in intramuscular glucose-6-P, glycolytic intermediates, pyruvate and lactate. This causes a transient hyperosmotic state, which results in an influx of water from the extracellular environment and swelling of the muscle cells. This is sensed by signalling molecules such as p38 MAPk which further results in activation of PGC1α.

Thus, the sprints in the HOR protocol activate signalling pathways responsible for a range of beneficial adaptations in a minimum of time, and with an acceptable rating of perceived exertion (‘somewhat hard’) compared to protocols utilising longer ‘all-out’ Wingate-type sprints or continuous submaximal exercise. Currently no other exercise protocol can achieve similar benefits in less time and/or with less fatigue.

The cycle sprints in a High Octane Ride session are specifically designed to rapidly break down muscle glycogen stores. This releases glycogen-bound AMPK, which is subsequently activated by AMP produced through breakdown of ATP and ADP. This in turn leads to activation of PGC1α, a transcription factor and master regulator of cellular energy homeostasis and adaptations to exercise.

Can I do this on any bike or other equipment such as a treadmill or even sprinting in the park?

It is impossible to do our scientifically proven protocol on any exercise bike or an ordinary bike or on the treadmill or even running in the park. This is because the protocol uses a very special sprint called the Wingate sprint which until now was only available in laboratories for research purposes. The High Octane Ride protocol is based on a Wingate sprint that is a scientific sprint designed to customise and maximise intensity for each person. HOR is an intelligent system because it learns your behaviour and adjusts your rides accordingly. This ensures you have the opportunity to do the optimal ride for you at any given time.

We have used a bike instead of a treadmill because the risk of injury is less on a bike. There is risk of falling off on treadmills and cross trainers, neck injuries on a rowing machine and running or jogging do not provide the adequate resistance against which you need to work. Take a look at the diagramme below. Our sprints are required for max intensity. But take heart – they are short!! Only 20 seconds each so its over quickly!

What is so special about the bike?

Good question! It looks like a “normal” bike but it’s far from it. It is state-of-the-art in engineering terms and it has been built to do high intensity sprints. To be specific: 1. Our motor has been specially designed to be so reactive that it switches from very low resistance to very high resistance in under a second. Most gym bikes take some time to increase resistance. 2. The motor is fully automatic and controlled by the software. No knobs and no guessing on resistance levels. It is always precise and optimal for your ride. 3. The motor also have about 300 resistance settings while most good gym bikes have less than 50. The many settings allow us to be extremely precise when choosing your resistance 4. Normal chain belts are gone because they are noisy and require a lot of maintenance. Because our bikes are networked, you can jump on any bike, log-in and do your ride. Therefore each bike needs to be exactly the same as any other on the network. This belt allows us to ensure consistency from bike to bike so that your performance data is always accurate 5. The chain is also with teeth so that no slippage occurs at high speeds. Other than us, Harley Davidson is the only other bike to have this type of belt. No expense has been spared. 6. Electronic brakes make each ride smooth and also require no calibration so all bikes can produce the same experience 7. The heart rate monitor is quite sophisticated in that it cancels out the noise being produced by the hand muscles to give a purer reading. But, if you prefer a chest belt, receivers are built into the console and will override the hand HRM if you have a chest belt.

Is High Octane Ride better than other types of exercise?

Lots of exercise programmes will provide health and fitness benefits. However, with a total of 30 minutes of exercise per week (three 10-minute sessions) High Octane Ride is the most effective and time-efficient training protocol scientifically proven to be associated with health and fitness benefits.

The health and fitness benefits of exercise have long been known. ‘Aerobic’ exercise (long brisk walks / jogging / running / cycle rides / swimming) and resistance exercise (‘pumping weights in the gym’) have traditionally been used to improve people’s fitness and reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases. However, these types of training involve a substantial time commitment. The key benefit of doing High Octane Ride instead is that this exercise routine is so much shorter. For example, three 10-minute High Octane Ride sessions per week will provide very similar health benefits compared to performing four 45-minute running sessions per week.

We have found that once people do HOR, they start doing other forms of exercise and are just more active in general – because they can! Their physical ability to move improves and hence their enjoyment of activity increases. We will always encourage people to be as active as they can. We bring HOR to you because we all fall short of exercising and HOR can give us that sharp short burst that we need.

Why has this been kept a secret? Why is this not widely available yet?

HIT is by no means a secret; it has featured widely in the press after it was first developed. For example, BBC Horizon reported on this type of time-efficient training in the documentary ‘The Truth about Exercise’ in February 2012. The book “Fast Exercise” that, followed this programme and became a No. 1 bestseller. The answer to why HIT is not widely practices yet is because it requires specialist equipment.

The first scientific studies that started investigating the health and fitness benefits of HIT used training sessions with more sprints of longer duration. Although the health benefits observed in these studies were excellent, the exercise protocols that were used were far too strenuous for most people to do on a regular basis. Researchers subsequently began exploring how a deeper understanding of the theoretical mechanisms responsible for the training adaptations could be used to make the protocol as short and manageable as possible while retaining the benefits. The resulting protocol was published in 2012, and first trialled by us as a workplace-based exercise programme soon after.

Although more companies were interested in making HIT available to the general public, the availability of a suitable exercise bike with integrated software for running the exercise sessions proved a stumbling block for many. Regular gym bikes are unsuitable for the HIT protocol, and the bikes used in research are very expensive. Integrated with an easy-to-use computer system running tailor-made software, the High Octane Ride setup is currently the only available programme for performing the shortest and most manageable HIT protocol that has been scientifically proven to be effective.

Can I stand up during the sprints or do I need to stay seated? When I stand, I find I can keep speed for longer and my muscles burn more.

We recommend that you remain seated during the sprints. Even though it may feel easier to do the sprints while standing up, the exercise will be more effective when sitting on the saddle because you use your thigh muscles and less full body weight.

By when can I see results?

As with any other exercise routine you will need to regularly perform the exercise sessions for a while before you get to see the benefits. You should start feeling fitter and have more energy within four weeks.

I am not overweight, is there any point for me to do exercise?

Yes, there is. Although being overweight is an important risk factor for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, so is being inactive! In fact, it is very well possible to be overweight but healthy, or to have a healthy bodyweight but develop diabetes or heart disease. Overweight and inactivity both independently increase your risk of developing chronic disease.

Everyone should aim to have a healthy bodyweight and to perform enough physical activity. How much physical activity is ‘enough’ depends on what type of exercise you do. Scientific research suggests that performing three High Octane Ride sessions per week is enough. However, building up to four sessions would bring further benefits and you can do it daily especially if you want to lose fat.

How often should I High Octane Ride?

We recommend that you perform High Octane Ride sessions a minimum of three times per week. However, building up to four sessions would bring further benefits and you can do it daily especially if you want to lose fat. We advise doing regular sessions in order to give your muscles the signal to keep building. Completing three sessions one week, and only one session the following week is not ideal for this reason. Also key is the fact that if you stop, any gains you made will reverse. The good news is that even after a holiday break, regular sessions will help you catch up quickly. However, the sessions are tough and you will need recovery time. For some, the weekend is enough; others may need a day of rest in between. Listen to your body. Even when recovering, you will carry on gaining benefits – up to 48 hours later your metabolism increases because recovery, believe it or not, requires energy.

TIP: Although it is common knowledge that exercise is healthy, in reality it is more precise to say that the recovery after exercise is healthy. Clearly we need to give our bodies some time to recover from exercise and let it work on bringing about the changes to the body which are considered healthy.

If you perform moderate intensity exercise like brisk walking, your body will recover very quickly. That is why you can do lots of this type of exercise, and doing it every day is not a problem. Most people also feel recovered from a High Octane Ride sessions quite soon after, but in fact your body will be working hard to fully recover from this type of exercise for quite a bit longer than after moderate intensity exercise.

Can everybody do High Octane Ride sessions?

No, this type of exercise is not suitable for everybody. If you suffer from joint problems in your knees, then performing cycling sprints is not recommended. Similarly, if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease then we recommend you do not do this type of exercise unless your doctor has told you that you can.

While research has not found HIT to be dangerous or more risky than other forms of exercise, before starting a new exercise routine (either High Octane Ride or any other type of exercise) we would recommend anyone who has not been very active for a prolonged period to get a check-up at their GP to rule out any undiagnosed heart disease or other reasons why performing high-intensity cycling sprints might present a health risk for them.

How do I best recover after my session?

We suggest plain old semi skimmed milk! It’s a great post-recovery drink. You can add a scoop of protein powder if you like. And of course water, hydration is always good. Plain water is perfect or coconut water if you like the taste.

What happens when science and fitness collide