MITOCHONDRIAL MAKEOVER: HIIT High Intensity Interval Training

Now that we are adjusting our nutrition to reap the wellness benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet with nutritional ketosis and intermittent fasting, lets move onto exercise!

The antiaging benefits of exercise are legend, so let’s focus on exercise in the context of our mitochondrial makeover discussions. A smart type of exercise to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis is called HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is an exercise strategy that involves alternating short bursts of intense exercise with brief rest or recovery periods. There are infinite HIIT program options available, and virtually any form of exercise or exercise machine can be utilized within a HIIT program. For example, HIIT can be done using body-weight exercises, treadmills, stationary bikes, jump-rope, swimming or sprinting. HIIT is, by definition, not time consuming and produces and maintains results with just a few short sessions per week. Popular forms of HIIT include:


Consists of 8 rounds of high-intensity exercise in a specific 20-seconds on, 10-seconds off interval. Exercise hard for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 7 more times to complete 8 sets. Eight sets are completed in 4 minutes total. Use any exercise you wish, ideally choose exercises that incorporate large muscle groups. Great exercises that work well with Tabata training include: squats, push-ups, burpees, kettlebell exercises, mountain climbers, jump rope, sprints, box jumps. You can switch between types of exercises with each set of Tabata or you may do the same exercise for all 8 sets.


Row, Sprint, or cycle as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. Recover 90 seconds while continuing the exercise at slower pace or at a lower resistance (active recovery). Repeat 7 times to complete 8 sets.


30-second sprint. Rest/walk for 4 minutes. Repeat 4 times to complete 5 sprints.

6-second sprint. Rest/walk for 1 minute. Repeat 9 times to complete 10 sprints.

**(Use a Tabata timer or HIIT app, or 7-minute work-out app on your smart phone to enhance your HIIT sessions).

HIIT is unique in it’s efficiency to produce results in much shorter exercise duration than traditional “cardio” type exercise sessions. Plan 2-3 HIIT sessions per week and feel free to continue any recreational activity or exercise programs that you currently enjoy. Just add a couple HIIT sessions throughout the week for tremendous benefits.

With HIIT, the key is to emphasize intensity over duration of exercise. Keep in mind, the level of intensity is unique to you. Do bursts of exercise with good form as hard as you can, then rest, recover, repeat. As you progress, your intensity increases yet the duration of the exercise session is capped. Yes, more health benefits with no increased exercise duration required!

HIIT not only improves mitochondrial function and stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, it also stimulates growth hormone production, fat-burning and muscle strength. Some find that doing HIIT sessions in a fasted state, i.e. during your intermittent fasting window, increases the fat-burning results they receive.

HIIT, NK (Nutritional Ketosis) and IF (Intermittent Fasting) are acronyms that stimulate another acronym, AMPK (AMP-Activated Protein Kinase). AMPK is a metabolic regulator, a cellular enzyme, that increases mitochondrial biogenesis, promotes longevity and reduces fat-storage (amongst other functions). AMPK activation plays a major role in our mitochondrial makeover programs.

The “HIITs keep coming” with HIIT!  Another acronym bonus is a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). HIIT activates the release of high levels of BDNF. BDNF is involved in brain-cell repair, learning, memory and mood regulation. HIIT is intelligent exercise!



Author: frankcomstock

I am a physician with an anti-aging medical practice in Tucson called Lifestyle Spectrum. I am the author of ANTIAGING 101: Course Manual

One thought on “MITOCHONDRIAL MAKEOVER: HIIT High Intensity Interval Training”

  1. This is a big reason why I love CrossFit, as it almost always has a HIIT component to it. FYI the bolding of specific/new terms really helps – keep up the good work DRFC (Dr. Franko Comstock)!

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