Why High Intensity Interval Training?February 23, 2018 | by Adam Wasylyshyn
HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training is a hot topic when it comes to strength and conditioning
In this article we break down this style of training to highlight some of the key ways it can help you reach your health or sport-related goals.
WHAT IS HIIT TRAINING?
The HIIT exercise method is repeated bursts of maximal or near-maximal effort separated by quick recovery periods. For example, instead of running 20 minutes at the same speed, you run for 10 minutes, alternating between one minute at a fast run, and 30 seconds at a light jog.
Though HIIT programs tend to be much shorter in duration than conventional workouts, don’t let this lead you to believe they are a short-cut to improvement. The intense nature of the sessions means that HIIT requires you to dig deep to achieve this training effect.
It’s also important to remember that no universal definition of HIIT exists. Strength and conditioning coaches prescribe versions and variations of HIIT depending on the program or the goals of the athlete in front of them.
So why HIIT over other forms of training? Here’s three benefits to consider:
1. IMPROVE YOUR CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE
Surprisingly, one of the types of athletes who benefit the most from this type of workout are endurance athletes. HIIT provides a time-effective method of improving conditioning that doesn’t involve longer 60+ minute bouts of training.
Research shows that short to medium duration efforts (30 seconds to a few minutes) are the most effective in training our body to work harder for longer. In technical terms, it improves our Lactate Threshold [LT] and Maximal Aerobic Power [MAP].
For example, cyclists never ride at exactly the same pace the entire time. There are many occasions you dig deep in the “energy tank” to keep the pace of the group, pass an opponent, or get up that hill, leaving you with less power at the end. HIIT helps your body to build up that power supply for use during these high intensity bursts, so you have more energy and stamina throughout the race.
Our PowerWatts™ indoor cycling sessions focus primarily on HIIT training for exactly this reason. We incorporate a lot of variations of HIIT, with proper progression, in a small group environment, for maximum training efficiency (and fun!).
2. IMPROVE YOUR RECOVERY TIME
For sports like soccer or football that are characterized by repeated all-out sprints, it’s no surprise that HIIT training helps the body to shorten the time needed to recover during game play.
For example, over time HIIT with short sprints, and quick recovery, will allow an athlete to build up their stamina, training the body to recover faster. This translates directly onto the field of play.
3. BURN FAT, FASTER
For those in weight-class sports such as wrestling and weightlifting, HIIT has also been shown to be a potent tool for body fat loss, and can be used to help achieve one’s body composition goals.
In simple terms, our body has three main energy sources (carbs, fat and protein). Our body primarily uses carbohydrate stores to fuel quick, high-intensity exercise, and fat stores to fuel longer bouts of low intensity exercise. So why not just work at a lower intensity for longer, you wonder?
During prolonged high intensity exercise (like HIIT) we can quickly burn through our carbohydrate stores, meaning our body starts burning fat for energy. After an intense work out, our body also needs more energy to recover. This means we burn fat throughout, but also long after the workout is complete.
HIIT TRAINING AT FORTIUS
As you can see, whether you are looking to break through a training plateau or are new to an exercise routine, HIIT has a place in everyone’s training program.
New to the Training Centre? Stop by the front desk or call us at 604.292.2502 to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Strength & Conditioning coach on how HIIT can be incorporated into your program. See you in the Training Centre!
Gibala, M. J., & McGee, S. L. (2008). Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain?. Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 36(2), 58-63.
Tomlin, D. L., & Wenger, H. A. (2001). The relationship between aerobic fitness and recovery from high intensity intermittent exercise. Sports Medicine, 31(1), 1-11.
Boutcher, S. H. (2010). High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. Journal of obesity, 2011.