I'm going to explain the WHY of this methodology at the end of this post, so if you don't care about theory you can just skip it.
What is Pulse Interval Training?PIT is a a step up and down from High Intensity Interval Training. The intervals are meant to be very short and as explosive as possible, and the rest period is long enough that you never get local fatigue.
Here's an overview:
1. Warmup, ballistic stretching, etc. Take as long as you like (you can, if you want, do the warmup with the same parameters as the PIT sets, just go easy - do the kicks at 1/2 or 3/4 speed, do the punches lightly, etc. Or do a 'regular' warmup. Just make sure to get nice and loose.)
2. Set a timer.
3. Every 30s do a "set" of exercise.Do not do the same exercise over and over - mix it up. For a default, pick 12 movements (there can be repeats) and cycle through, so you repeat your giant set every 6 minutes.
4. Repeat for 20-60 minutes. Breathe through your nose the entire time. If you can't catch your breath with nasal breathing alone, take a set or two off or truncate your work sets. If you lose explosiveness (your punches and kicks slow down) stop your workout.
5. Cool down. Do your static stretching here, if you want to do any.
What do the 'sets' look like?Each set of exercise - each pulse - needs to be done at absolute maximum intensity. If it's a set of punches or kicks, each technique must be done as if it's the only technique you're throwing that day, in front of your instructor, or your one chance to take out an opponent who is about to kill you. I don't really care what imagery you use, but it shouldn't be an effort you could repeat easily.
If you want a visual of what I'm talking about, get a martial arts class (not beginners), and ask them to throw a hundred punches. Watch the level of effort in each punch. Than, another day, ask them to demo three punches. Watch the difference in speed, power, and snap.
A pulse should last less than 10 seconds (this is not a hard and fast rule, but most of your sets should be under 10s. If you find your sets creeping up into the 15-20s range, do something harder).
What are some examples of a good pulse set?5 kettlebell swings - use a forced negative (swing the ketltebell hard enough that it would go very high, but when it reaches chin level, push down hard on the kettlebell to stop its upward momentum and force it down faster than gravity alone). Don't use the heaviest kettlebell you can manage, go for snap and power.
4-6 kicks. I'll get into a fighting stance and throw a lead leg kick, a back leg kick, then switch stances and repeat. I'll do the same kick. Front, round, knee, side. I will do spinning kicks, again a total of 4. If you have a heavy bag, hit it.
4-8 punch combinations. I often do these with a 1 lb dumbell (do NOT use a very heavy dumbbell, it reduces the transferability of the exercise to regular punches). Make them snappy. If you have a heavy bag, hit it.
Stance work. I'll step forward in front stance 2-4 steps.
Any 2-4 counts from any kata. Be reasonable - counts that include long slow portions are not suitable for this.
Pushups done FAST. I'll do 5-10 pushups.
What should the sequence of pulses look like?The goal in sequencing exercise is to avoid local fatigue. In other words, you do NOT want the same muscles worked over and over again, at least not as the primary movers (yes, your core will be engaged in almost every set, but you're not focusing on it in every set).
I alternate punch sequences and kick sequences. And yes, the punch sequence does involve the lower body, but it's not heavily fatiguing on the lower body.
What should my rest look like?Between sets you should move around but at VERY low intensity. In other words, walk slowly around your workout area; do NOT lie down but do not force your pace. Continue to breath nasally.
What is the purpose of PIT?HIIT is lovely, but it is highly lactic. If you watch someone performing that kind of training their movements quickly become slow and relatively unexplosive.
As martial artists, our goal should be to be as fast an explosive as possible. By doing a small number of repetitions with plenty of rest you can keep the quality high and train those physical qualities
By sticking to nasal breathing we are doing our best to maintain in a zone of intensity where we're primarily working the aerobic system. There are many good reasons for that which I won't address in this post. Short answer is that once you're past your anaerobic threshold motor learning and speed development go down.
You don't NEED a timer to do a few techniques, rest, then do some more. I'm sure many people could self regulate their intensity (by staying on the edge of how hard they can work using nasal breathing). However, using a timer makes it easier to gauge progress over time and makes it harder to accidentally drop too low in intensity.
Give PIT training a try and see if you don't see quick progress in your martial arts skills.