High Intensity Training For Endurance Athletes

HIIT has not only been demonstrated to enhance one’s VO2 max when training but it has also been by research to enhance muscles’ capacity to use oxygen productively for burning accessible and circulating fuel for activities.

Processing carbohydrates and fats effectively while engaging in physical activity benefits performance, general well-being, and physical condition (Gibala & McGee 2008).

Studies have also found that HIIT leads to better disposal of substances created during exercise, as well as the enhancement of mitochondria biogenesis which is the growth of the number of mitochondria (Jacobs et al. 2013).

Reaching these advantages quicker than before makes it impossible to use lack of time as an excuse not to exercise.

Exercises like rigorous cardio workouts and strenuous strength training that follow the High-Intensity Interval Training methodology draw the attention of those who lack enough time and who want to improve their stamina and overall health.

It is remarkable how HIIT can aid athletes to amplify their performance in long-distance challenges, apart from other great qualities it has. What benefits can be gained from a short period of vigorous physical activity regarding activities that take place over an extended period? Let’s find out.

HIIT and Endurance Performance

Let us begin by reviewing customary endurance training, which builds up the length of consistent low-intensity workouts (LIT) to augment oxygen and fuel consumption in muscle tissues.

During the running and triathlon fads which ran from the mid-seventies through to the end of the twentieth century, it was usually believed that the longer the runs, the better they were. This was massively affected by the iconic marathon feats and significant events like the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon® and the Tour de France®.

Currently, LIT protocols constitute up to 70% of endurance workout plans, while HIIT and moderate-intensity exercising make up the remainder of the annual program.

Athletes who take part in recreational endurance sports can take up to 15 hours out of their week to pursue their hobby, usually dedicating a large portion of that time to keeping themselves aerobically fit.

Intense High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is not a typical training program but is instead used near the race day as a way to increase effective pacing (Seiler & Tonnessen 2009).

The LIT performance training model has been successful for over 50 years, but recent research on HIIT has revealed that higher-intensity activities can benefit many of the physiological systems and energy production processes that are found in LIT aerobic training.

Setting Up Programming

Exercises that require a lot of effort can involve a combination of strength training, short bursts of exercise separated by brief rest times and running at full velocity.

These different processes enhance an athlete’s skill in adhering to a lasting, steady rate whilst utilizing effective strategies for an extended period. There is no definitive answer to how best to combine high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with long-term interval training (LIT) as HIIT is not commonly employed for endurance work.

The complexity of designing HIIT routines is more complex than for low-intensity training due to its stand-out feature.

The coach or trainer must take into account the athlete’s mental and physical constitution, how much time is available and what their desired results are, and has to constantly track their progress to gauge the correct amount of exercise.

A 30-minute HIIT workout to promote the growth of mitochondria is more uncertain than a 2-hour LIT session.

In the end, it is essential to figure out the right way to teach the three vitality systems above while skillfully dealing with exhaustion to keep away from the dangers of overtraining.

Anaerobic System Training

Introducing speed-and-strength workouts is the most recent advance in endurance coaching, considering that traditionally, brief-term exercises were considered to be incompatible with this sort of training.

Studies conducted by Steele et al. (2012), Sunde et al. (2010), and Ronnestad & Mujika (2014) have all confirmed the advantages of endurance training.

It has been demonstrated that pushing one’s muscles to the point of exhaustion through resistance training can amplify many abilities related to enduring physical activity. In many individuals who lack training, and some who do have a background in endurance sports, their VO2 max can be improved.

When you exert yourself physically, you can use oxygen more effectively, making it possible to stay active for a longer period. The vessels of the circulatory system, such as the arteries and veins, are enhanced (Steele et al. 2012).

It is noteworthy that the majority of athletes achieve their optimum output of VO2 max during some phase of their career, and further enhancements in their performance can be achieved through particular approaches inspired by strength training and various kinds of HIIT (Magness 2014).

Doing weightlifting can efficiently work on and strengthen both the deceleration of a movement, which is when a muscle extends and the acceleration of a motion, which is when a muscle contracts.

One can achieve similar results from doing endurance exercises with Large Intensity Training (LIT), but if heavy weights are used when training, then more muscle fibres and motor units are constructed in the muscle groups being worked on.

The Role of the Work Economy

Strength training can have an impact on the energy efficiency of a particular activity carried out at a particular speed, as is demonstrated in several ways connected to the concept of work economy.

The concept of improved performance through efficiency is most often referred to as running the economy or cycling economy in studies but can be applied to other sports activities as well.

Muscles that are well-developed boost several aspects of movement, such as utilizing elastic energy more effectively, making motions more stable, enhancing neural muscular action, and providing more power.

Having stronger and more flexible muscles in the legs when running allows the athlete to better utilize the energy gathered through the strike of their feet. They can store that energy for a short time before efficiently releasing it like a spring.

There is no longer a necessity to tense up muscles to raise the foot again.

The entire set of muscles contained within the body, from the soles of the feet to the tips of the fingers, all cooperate to conserve and subsequently release energy while running, and the more resilient the muscles are, the less oxygen is needed to facilitate the performance (Steele et al. 2012; Magness 2014).

The same rules are relevant to swimming, biking, and rowing, however, because the water, bicycle, and boat carry a notable amount of the athlete’s weight, most of the contractions will be concentric.

The significance of strength training for sustaining stability, and contributing to neuromuscular activity and strength production is evident (Nader 2006).

In this context, stability can be seen to mean the provision of sufficient support for muscle motion at appropriate points for a productive motion to take place. A multi-angle training regimen that includes variations in exercises can efficiently stimulate the muscles necessary to support particular joints, such as the lower back and pelvic area.

This fortification can let an area adjust to the quickly fluctuating force mechanics from an alternating arm movement in swimming or an exchanging pedal stroke in cycling, for instance. The spine can also maintain tension to supply superior mechanical advantage during a rowing stroke (NASM 2008).

The development of the nervous system and muscles is intimately connected to strenuous strength training.

Weightlifting can cause neurological and muscular changes by increasing the number of motor units, which enables the generation of power over a bigger area of active muscle fibres.

The rise in connections leads to more forces being produced during a foot strike, row stroke, or ski pole action (Taipale et al. 2013).

Choosing Resistance Exercises

When picking resistance workouts, it’s probably optimal to go with compound free-weight movements that concentrate on the major muscles utilized in a given sport.

Running should focus on training exercises that work hip extensor muscles, such as deadlifts, hip thrusts and glute-and-hamstring raises.

One ought to also engage in single-leg deadlifts, single-leg glute thrusts (donkey kicks), hip thrusts and lunges. Working the muscles by dragging and pushing sledges is a successful way of increasing strength for runners.

It is important when cycling to focus on exercises that target the hip flexors, some of which include squats, step-ups, lunges, single-leg squats, and roman chairs.

The last, and possibly most beneficial, aspect of resistance training is the improvement of endurance within the interval training program. A more muscular physique can lead to increased speed, particularly when HIIT-based cardio exercises are worked into a fitness program.

The enhancements in stretchiness, dependability, neural-muscular links and power generation help the competitor keep appropriate methodology during strenuous intervals.

Components of HIIT Workouts

An upside to HIIT workouts is their versatility. It is possible to change both the purpose and results of a workout by adjusting five different elements.

  1. Interval Intensity
  2. Interval duration
  3. Recovery duration
  4. Recovery intensity
  5. Volume of intervals

1. Interval Intensity

Concerning HIIT workouts, it is undeniable that they stress the importance of intensity.

You should go hard when you work out: your intervals should be worked at a rate of at least 90% of your maximum oxygen uptake (which is almost the same as 95% of your maximum heart rate). For many runners, this would be at a speed between 10km to 5km per hour.

There is an extensive variety of intensities that we can employ: beginning at just beneath VO2 max level and culminating in full-on sprint intensity.

The training benefit from these sessions varies depending on the intensity used during these intervals:

  • Sub-maximal Intervals (just below VO2 max), develop aerobic conditioning and muscular endurance.
  • VO2max intervals emphasize aerobic capacity, and the velocity or power at VO2max.
  • Supra-maximal/Sprint Intervals increase the emphasis on strength, power, anaerobic capacity and anaerobic endurance.

2. Interval Duration

The amount of time between rounds can range from shorter bursts (10-15 seconds) to longer periods (3-5 minutes). So, what interval duration works best?… It all depends on the purpose of the session:

  • Aerobic conditioning and muscular endurance: 3-5 minutes.
  • VO2 max: normally from 30secs-3minutes, but sometimes longer.
  • Anaerobic endurance: normally 30-60secconds
  • Speed, power, and anaerobic capacity: 10-30 seconds.

When the gap between each period of work becomes bigger, the amount of effort put in by the worker lessens. The timing of breaks between exercises is an essential element when organizing exercises.

The amount of rest between intervals also impacts how demanding each interval is.

3. Recovery Duration

The duration of the break period largely depends on how long and intense the period of labour was. The duration of the recovery period will depend on the intensity of the interval.

In the same way that interval intensity and duration vary significantly, there can be great variability in the length of recovery:

  • Sprint intervals/anaerobic capacity: the recovery period can be 10-20x longer than the work interval (1:10-1:20 work to recovery ratio)
  • Anaerobic endurance/conditioning: the recovery interval is normally 3-5x longer than the work interval (1:3-1:5 work to recovery ratio). However, sometimes this may be as low as 1:1.
  • VO2max Intervals: the recovery period is normally equal to the work interval (1:1 work-to-recovery ratio).
  • Aerobic conditioning/muscular endurance: the work interval is much longer than the recovery period (typically 3:1-5:1 work to-recovery ratio)

The essential element is this: you need to have a sufficient recuperation period to sustain the desired period intensity.

The amount of time it takes to recover will also impact the general outcome of the training. As an example, during certain exercises, we make the rest times briefer to boost our muscular stamina, ability to exercise aerobically, or ability to exercise anaerobically.

It is important to think about how intense recoveries will be when looking into them.

4. Recovery Intensity

The recovery intensity can vary from:

  • Complete rest
  • Very light activity
  • Moderate intensity

Why does the recovery intensity matter?…

The strength of the rebound determines the strength of the work intervals. The restorative processes should be simple enough for you to get back to performing at the same level of intensity that you were at for the intervals.

Second, the recovery intensity affects the average intensity of the workout:

The intensity of the workout on average is determined by the intensity of the intervals combined with the intensity of the periods of rest and divided by the length of time the workout lasts.

If you make your recovery periods more strenuous, you will up the average level of difficulty of the entire workout. Rather than keeping up intensity levels throughout, a rest period between intervals will help to lower the average intensity of the workout.

An additional advantage of HIIT workouts can be to partake in a restorative activity. And may enhance the rate of recovery between intervals. The following article goes into more detail about the differences between active and passive rest periods when doing interval training.

The essential factor to consider is how changing the amount of recuperation affects both the average level of the exercise and the amount of work in between bouts.

It is vital to concentrate on building up aerobic capability and muscular resilience when exercising. Although I mentioned it before, the restored energy must allow you to retain the same intensity while exercising.

5. Volume of Intervals

The training amount is evidently critical in achieving training results. And HIIT training is no different. The extent of the intervals and intent of the workout will decide this.

For example, shorter HIIT exercises allow for more extended exercise periods than sprints due to their lower intensity.

An example of a well-trained and healthy endurance runner would be someone who can do 30 minutes of moderate intervals (6 times 5 minute interval5-minute for a 10k run). As opposed to that, the athlete may just be able to finish two minutes worth of maximum-level hill sprints (10x 12-second hill sprint intervals).

Endurance Training Benefits

High-intensity interval training is an essential exercise regimen for those who are focused on endurance activities. To reach your pinnacle, high-intensity interval training should be part of your workout plan.

It is significant to note that this type of training can result in more significant improvements concerning aerobic and anaerobic metabolism as compared to typical aerobic fitness training.

The research appears to point to interval training as the best method for well-trained endurance athletes to make further progress in their aerobic fitness (Acevado and Goldfarb, 1989; Billat et al., 1999; Stepto et al., 1999).

HIIT sessions improve fitness in several ways, including:

  • Greater fat oxidation
  • The increased stroke volume of the heart
  • Improved lactate uptake and clearance
  • Higher VO? max
  • Increased aerobic and anaerobic energy production
  • Improved neuromuscular coordination and efficiency
  • Greater speed, or power output, at lactate threshold and VO? max
  • Improved endurance exercise performance

It is notably beneficial to endurance athletes to engage in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), as it enhances exercise, reduces carbohydrates being burned at lower intensities (below VO2 max), and increases fat burning (Westgarth-Taylor et al., 1997).


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