One of the most popular workout styles these days is HIIT training. It’s efficient, effective, and straight forward. Requiring minimal or no equipment, it’s the perfect workout for a modern, busy, athlete like you!
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It's a workout that alternates between short busts of high-energy cardio exercise and structured periods of lower intensity exercise or rest. CrossFit’s now famous TABATA workout is a favored form of HIIT training.
How high is high-energy cardio you ask? That depends on the duration of the interval. Intervals in a HIIT workout range from 10 seconds to 5 minutes. However, the key is to put as much intensity into the interval as you can reasonably sustain for the entire duration. These types of workouts can help runners boost their metabolism and build complete-body fitness and athleticism. As a result you'll improve your mechanical efficiency, strength and injury prevention.
How HIIT Training can help YOU!
1. Increase your mitochondrial function:
Don’t worry, it’s not as “sciencey” as it sounds. This means that HIIT training can increase your cells' ability to take fuel in your body and quickly convert it to useable energy. Therefore, when you’re looking for that extra gear at or need just another 1/2 mile in your already long run, your body will be able to give you that little extra boost without too much lag time. Furthermore, studies have found that four 30-second max effort sprints, with sufficient rest, can improve your mitochondrial function equally as well as 30 minutes of running.
2. Boost your VO2 Max:
VO2 max, every runner’s favorite term. The buzz phrase of all buzz phrases in the running "blogosphere." The ability to maximally use consumed oxygen often separates the elite endurance athletes from everyone else. Want to get up to elite level? Try HIIT training! HIIT training as a part of a runner’s weekly routine can increase VO2 max by up to 46% in just 24 weeks. Six months of short sprints, jumps and shuffles is a small price to pay for the increased oxygen efficiency and subsequent performance perks.
3. Jack up your stroke volume:
This one sounds fun…it is! Stroke volume is the amount of blood your heart can pump per beat. Higher stroke volume means more blood pumped per heart beat. As a result, more oxygen (carried by red blood cells) circulates to your oxygen-craving muscles. Short, high-intensity exercises crafted into HIIT training can increase your stroke volume by 10% in as little as 8 weeks. Moreover, by lowering your resting heart rate your body becomes a beast in having your heart work best in your favor.
4. Make your body a fat burning machine:
As they (or maybe just I) say, keep the oven hot enough and it will burn everything. The high level of exertion inherent in HIIT training increases your body’s growth hormones. These hormones are the key to building muscle and burning fat even after your exercise is done. Getting in peak performance mode requires this growth and development. The focus here should be on muscle growth. Continuing to build strength/muscle will help decrease muscular fatigue and increase muscular control during your endurance work. Furthermore, you'll improve your power-output and add a little extra pep in your step!
5. Develop the whole athlete:
It’s great to be able to run for 4 hours on end without missing a beat. However, it’s greater to run for 4 hours, then climb a ladder, lift a heavy box, and hurdle a trash can. That full range of athleticism will add to your running and endurance performance. Variety of motion and exercise is key to developing the “whole athlete.” Integrating HIIT training that includes more than just sprints is a great way to get you there.
In short, have some fun with it, enjoy the constant variance, and soak up the glory of building towards a PR/PB performance!
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