The HIIT CALCULATOR: The High Performance Tool

The HIIT CALCULATOR makes an indispensable contribution to preparing for the highest athletic demands in soccer player performance.

The HIIT CALCULATOR: An innovative tool to individualize high performance training in modern football

Written by: Florian Maierhofer & Rexhep Kushutani

Football, described in its essence as a simple game has evolved in recent years, both in terms of the dynamics of the game and the factors of strain and training methods. Doubtless, the overall velocity and the level of conditioning increased significantly in the modern world of football.

Above all, the technical and tactical innovations are important, when coaches talk about strategies like forechecking. Because of all these evolutions, football is characterized by more tackles and the fact, that players run longer distances in a shorter period of time.

close up photo of two footballers legs challenging for a ball

In the light of the mentioned parameters and the evolution of football, it is worth noting that the physical demands changed in comparison to history. Nowadays, a pronounced level of specific technical skills, a deep tactical understanding on both individual and team levels, mental strength leading to success and outstanding conditioning skills are essential.

In addition to strong mental fortitude, it is conditioning performance that leads to lasting success. During games and training sessions, players must manage a significant aerobic and anaerobic load, perform repeated high-speed sprints, execute movements requiring a high level of speed and strength, and recover as quickly as possible.


One of the key skills in case of becoming a strong player is repeating bouts of high intensity movement. The importance of this point is underpinned by the fact, that during a game, there a more than 1500 different moving actions. The growing physical demands in football, combined with scientific advancements in this field, have led to an evolution of training methods.

Moreover, the acceleration of the game and increasing complexity in training planning require adapted training approaches that meet the demands of modern game conditions. It is all about finding the right balance between good old stuff and new knowledge to perfectly meet common standards in modern football.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been known for some time but has particularly gained increased attention in football training science in recent years. HIIT is considered an efficient method for football-specific endurance training, which not only saves time but also targets individual physiological performance parameters. These parameters include particularly the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and the efficiency of heart rate during physical exertion.

Moreover, regular HIIT training promotes players’ ability to recover quickly, allowing them to perform multiple high-intensity bouts consecutively. This improved endurance and recovery capability can directly impact the game, for example by increasing the number of sprints or extending the distances that can be covered with high intensity.

a soccer match

To fulfil the potential of using HIIT Training and take care of individual differences, Rexhep Kushutani and Florian Maierhofer developed the HIIT Calculator. Individualizing training ensures, that each player is trained in an optimal way while increasing the football specific endurance.

By specifically promoting endurance performance and recovery capacity, the HIIT CALCULATOR makes an indispensable contribution to preparing for the highest athletic demands. Therefore, it is a useful tool to aim the complexity in football training and to prepare the players for challenges which are occurring in games.

The basis of the HIIT CALCULATOR is the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (IFT) by Dr. Martin Buchheit, emphasizing its direct connection to proven concepts. The 30-15 IFT is a progressive field-based running endurance test controlled by acoustic signals, alternating between 30 seconds of exertion and 15 seconds of recovery.

Athletes are guided through the test via an app. The data obtained from this test serves as the basis for individualized training with the HIIT CALCULATOR.

By recognizing that a single intensity level in football endurance training yields diverse physical effects, it becomes imperative to personalize load parameters. The HIIT Calculator streamlines this intricate planning process by enabling the customization of interval bouts, with running speed or distance serving as crucial metrics. Coaches can leverage performance data from previous endurance tests (i.e. the above mentioned 30-15 IFT) to tailor an ideal workload for each player.

women's professional soccer match

Practical Examples for Calculating an Individualised HIIT by Speed

This initial example demonstrates a HIIT session utilizing speed as a crucial parameter for calculation. The speed is represented as a percentage of the maximal running speed achieved during the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (VIFT).

Inputting details such as the number of sets, rest intervals, repetitions, duration of each repetition, and rest periods between repetitions is essential for an accurate calculation. If coaches wish to incorporate shuffle intervals, they can specify the number of directional changes (180°).

In this example, three players cover varying distances in a 10-second HIIT session without any change of direction (COD). Each player runs at an exemplary speed equivalent to 100% of the VIFT, so the load and physical strain are equal.

HIIT diagram

The second example also employs speed as the calculation parameter. The provided details mirror those of the above mentioned example, with the exception that each interval incorporates one change of direction. Although the duration of intervals remains consistent across all players, there are variations in total distance and the distance covered between changes of direction (COD). This variation ensures that each player achieves their optimal endurance effect. The box at the very right side gives information bout the HIITs total duration.

HIIT diagram of soccer performance tactics

Practical Example for Calculating an Individualised HIIT by Distance

The latest version of the HIIT Calculator now allows coaches to calculate HIIT intervals using covered distance as a crucial parameter. In addition to specifying details such as the number of sets, rest intervals, repetitions, and rest periods between repetitions, coaches can input information regarding distances and COD angles of consecutive running parts. This enables the creation of multidirectional interval runs at a given speed (e.g., 100% of VIFT), where each player covers the same distance in varying times, despite differing split times.

HIIT diagram of soccer performance tactics

The HIIT Calculator is free to use. To get the latest version, click here.

After receiving the software, coaches can immediately use all the advantages in their daily planning process to optimize and individualize the football specific endurance training.

What Now?

The ISSPF online Advanced Certificate in Strength & Conditioning for Soccer Performance course has been designed and executed to add the science behind the actual practitioner and coaching knowledge for fitness, medical or other support staff working with soccer players. This course provides even further depth into the coaching science aspects of strength & conditioning.


In This Course You Will Learn

  • Maximal intensity conditioning periods in soccer: Physical vs. Tactical strategies
  • Understanding injury prevention and rehabilitation in soccer
  • LTAD – Training Design & Application in Youth Development
  • Biomechanical considerations within soccer: Performance ‘strength & movement principles’ Part B
  • Peak velocity exposure in soccer: To sprint or not to sprint?
  • Strength & Conditioning: A current understanding
  • Nutritional optimisation of recovery and adaptation in elite soccer
  • A multi-modal approach to quantifying external load in soccer
  • Soccer specific game based training: The physical returns
  • Application & monitoring post-training & match recovery strategies in soccer

About the Authors

Florian Maierhofer, a sports scientist from Austria, is a graduate of the University of Graz. His passion lies in working with athletes across various sports, striving to enhance their performance in a holistic manner. His approach to training is defined by his ability to find a balance between embracing new advancements and utilizing proven methods.

Rexhep Kushutani is a sports scientist who graduated from Ruhr University Bochum. He also holds an A licence from the German Football Association (DFB) as a football coach. He worked at VfL Bochum since 2010, initially as a coach and coordinator in the youth academy.

From the 2015-2016 season, he took on important tasks for the professional team in the areas of monitoring, training and load management as well as performance diagnostics. He also specialises in the quantitative analysis, especially of upcoming opponents.

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