High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is extremely popular these days, but what exactly is it? HIIT is performing exercise at near maximal intensity with recovery periods in between efforts. The times of both the intense exercise bout and the recovery period can vary and are ultimately decided by the participant or the coach.
Why are we hearing so much about it now? HIIT is not a new form of training, but, I believe its current popularity is two-fold. One, it’s been reported that as a population we are continually time poor, so time efficient training appeals to people. Secondly, sport science is a growing industry and we constantly see and hear what elite athletes are doing in this space. Having worked in elite sport myself, I can tell you that HIIT is used regularly and with great results. Simply because movement patterns can be closely replicated and the desired fitness adaptations can be achieved in a shorter amount of time.
Olympian and 2XU ambassador Eloise Wellings refers to this in her online interview when she mentions the importance of interval sessions to keep enjoying your running. So we can see that there are not only physiological benefits from HIIT, but also a psychological one as well.
How can you apply HIIT to your training?
An extensive review from Garcia-Pinillos, Soto-Hermoso and Latorre-Roman (2016) suggested runners should best apply HIIT at near maximal intensity interval bouts of exercise for less than one minute, but should accumulate more than ten minutes of the high intensity running component overall with a 1:1 or 1:2 work-rest ratio. They also concluded throwing some HIIT into your weekly run schedule can efficiently prevent injury because of the lower weekly run distances.
Applying HIIT myself I often fatigue closer to the end point of interval sets, thus my running technique deteriorates leading to a higher chance of injury. Since using 2XU’s new Accelerate Compression Tights while performing these training sessions I have found a noticeable improvement in running technique towards the end of sets, and that ticks the injury prevention box. I’m also not as sore 1-2 days post exercise. Improved muscle alignment improves performance and reduces muscle damage resulting in a faster recovery time.
My 5 tips to apply HIIT:
- It’s quality over quantity and remember it’s called ‘High Intensity’ so perform your intense bouts of exercise at high speed and your recovery at a low intensity. If there’s not much difference then are you doing HIIT or volume training?
- Schedule these into your weekly exercise regime.
- If you’re training for an event incorporate HIIT into your training program. You may have done the event before with no HIIT. There may be a time in your event where you need to pick up the speed. HIIT will help.
- If you want to push yourself, pair up with someone of similar fitness ability and try to beat each other. Training with someone not only pushes you that little bit harder but it makes you accountable.
- For maximal effects combine HIIT with volume training on other days so you get both the km’s you need and the speed when you need to pick the pace up.
Due to the fact that HIIT should achieve near maximal heart rates if performed correctly, I strongly recommend this type of exercise for trained individuals only and you should seek a medical clearance from your GP to partake in this form of training.
Garcia-Pinillos, F, Soto-Hermoso, VM & Latorre-Roman, PA 2016, ‘How does high-intensity intermittent training affect recreational endurance runners? Acute and chronic adaptations: A systematic review’, Journal of Sport and Health Science, vol. 6 (2017), pp. 54-67.
About the writer:
Brad Jenkinson is an online contributor for 2XU. Brad holds significant experience working with elite athletes and facilitating management and leadership programs across various high performance sports organisations, including the Australian Football League, National Rugby League and Major League Baseball. A member of the Australian Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, Brad has also worked as a University Lecturer, Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Melbourne Storm and a Principal Trainer in the corporate health sector. Brad also owns and runs Holistic Athlete Development.
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