HIIT Training for HYROX and Hybrid Athletes: Unlock Your Performance Potential
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a popular workout trend that has gained widespread attention for its potential to help individuals achieve both fat loss and improved performance. HIIT workouts consist of short, high-intensity bursts of exercise alternated with periods of rest or low-intensity recovery, and are designed to maximise calorie burn and stimulate the body's metabolism. At the same time, HIIT can also improve cardiovascular health, boost endurance, and retain muscle mass, making it an effective choice for individuals looking to achieve multiple fitness goals.
For HYROX and hybrid athletes looking to excel in their chosen sports, incorporating HIIT into their training regimen can be the key to unlocking their full potential. In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of HIIT training for HYROX and hybrid athletes, and provide some effective HIIT workouts tailored to your unique needs.
However, despite its growing popularity, there is still some debate around the effectiveness of HIIT for both fat loss and performance. While some studies have shown that HIIT can be a highly effective form of exercise, HIIT training can be very demanding on the body and can lead to a risk of overtraining if not properly managed.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the science behind HIIT, exploring its benefits and drawbacks, and help you decide if HIIT is the right choice for you and your fitness goals.
What is HIIT training?
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It is a form of exercise that alternates periods of high-intensity effort with periods of rest or low-intensity recovery. The goal is to push yourself during the high-intensity intervals, improving endurance and burning more calories in less time compared to traditional steady-state cardio workouts. HIIT workouts can be performed with various types of exercises such as running, cycling, bodyweight exercises etc
What are the benefits of HIIT training?
The benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training include:
Improved VO2Max - HIIT works by challenging the heart and lungs, causing them to work harder and become stronger over time. As the body adapts to the demands of HIIT, the heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood, increasing cardiac output, and the lungs become better at supplying the muscles with oxygen, increasing VO2Max. And we know that this leads to improved cardiovascular endurance and increased performance during exercise.
Improved insulin sensitivity: HIIT has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent the accumulation of excess fat.
Increased mitochondrial biogenesis - HIIT training has been shown to increase mitochondrial biogenesis, the process by which cells increase the number and size of mitochondria, the organelles responsible for producing energy
Help with body composition - literature shows it can help improve weight loss, body composition and cardiovascular health
Improved time-efficiency: HIIT workouts are usually shorter than traditional cardio exercises, making it an efficient way to improve fitness and body composition for busy individuals.
Increased metabolism: HIIT increases the body's metabolic rate over a 24hr period, causing it to continue burn calories even after the workout is over.
Improved mental and physical health: HIIT has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall mental and physical health by reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic diseases.
Versatility: HIIT can be performed using a variety of equipment and exercises, making it a highly versatile form of exercise that can be adapted to individual needs and preferences.
What are the drawbacks of HIIT training?
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a highly effective form of exercise, but like any workout routine, it also has its drawbacks. Some of the potential drawbacks of HIIT include:
Overtraining: Done too often, HIIT training can run the risk of doing more damage than good. Increasing the risk of overtraining, illness and even mitochondrial damage
Intense: As you would expect, HIIT workouts are intense! Leaving some individuals feeling fatigued or unable to continue with their regular activities. This also makes them difficult for some individuals, particularly those who are just starting to exercise. Caution must be taken if you have a history of poor cardiac health, as there is an increased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) during very high intensity activity. So before undertaking any exercise programme, please consult your doctor if you are concerned.
Risk of Injury: HIIT workouts require individuals to push their bodies to their limits, which can increase the risk of injury if not managed properly
Recovery: HIIT workouts can take a toll on the body, making it important to allow sufficient time for recovery between sessions, which may not be possible for individuals with a busy schedule.
How to do HIIT sessions correctly?
During HIIT training, the high-intensity intervals must be performed at a level that exceeds the anaerobic (second lactate/ventilatory threshold) to trigger the desired adaptations. This means working at a level where the body's demand for oxygen exceeds the supply and the energy demands are met by anaerobic metabolism.
How can you find your anaerobic threshold?
The anaerobic threshold (AT) is the point during exercise at which the body can no longer meet the energy demands of the exercise through aerobic metabolism, leading to an increase in anaerobic metabolism and lactate production. There are several ways to determine your anaerobic threshold, including:
Heart rate monitoring: This involves monitoring your heart rate during exercise and determining the point at which your heart rate begins to increase rapidly, indicating that you have reached your anaerobic threshold.
Perceived exertion: This method involves rating your level of exertion on a scale, such as the Borg Scale, and determining the point at which your perceived exertion begins to increase rapidly, indicating that you have reached your anaerobic threshold.
Blood lactate testing: This involves collecting blood samples during exercise and determining the point at which lactate levels in the blood begin to increase rapidly, indicating that you have reached your anaerobic threshold.
Gas analysis (VO2Max test): This method involves using specialised exercise equipment, such as a metabolic cart, to measure the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your breath during exercise. The VO2 test can be used to identify the VT2, or second ventilatory threshold, is the point during exercise at which the rate of increase in carbon dioxide production starts to exceed the rate of increase in oxygen consumption.
Combined methods: Some tests may combine several of these methods, such as heart rate monitoring, perceived exertion, and blood lactate testing, to provide a more comprehensive assessment of your anaerobic threshold.
Creating your sessions using the anaerobic threshold
Once the anaerobic threshold has been determined, you can create a HIIT session by performing intervals of high-intensity exercise at or above the anaerobic threshold, followed by periods of low-intensity recovery. The duration of the high-intensity intervals and recovery periods, as well as the overall duration of the workout, can be adjusted based on your fitness level and goal.
How to create a proper HIIT session:
1. Determine the anaerobic threshold through a VO2Max test or using one of the methods above*
2. Perform intervals of high-intensity exercise at or above the anaerobic threshold, such as running, cycling, or bodyweight exercises. A typical interval duration could be anything between 30s and 4mins.
3. Follow each high-intensity interval with a period of low-intensity recovery, such as jogging or walking. The recovery period should last for an equal or longer duration compared to the high-intensity interval.
4. Repeat the high-intensity/low-intensity intervals so that you perform between 12-20 high intensity minutes. For example: 8 x 2mins hard work (16mins) with 2mins walk recovery.
5. Gradually increase the duration, intensity, or number of intervals as your fitness level improves.
Example HIIT Workouts for you to try
4 - 6 x 3mins at a pace or intensity that is above your anaerobic threshold with a 3 minute recovery. Your recovery interval should be halve the speed or power of your work interval
10-12 x 60-seconds at a pace or intensity that is above your anaerobic threshold, with 60-second recovery at the speed or power of your work interval
As part of our VO2Max testing, we provide a 12 week interval plan based on your unique data and VO2Max.
How often should you do HIIT training?
The number of HIIT workouts you should do per week depends on several factors, including your fitness level, training goals, and overall physical health. Generally, research show us that HIIT training should only form a small portion of your weekly training. We recommend between 1 and 3 sessions per week.
However, it's important to listen to your body and adjust the frequency and intensity of your HIIT workouts accordingly. If you're new to HIIT, it may be best to start with one session per week and gradually increase the frequency as your fitness improves.
It's also important to allow for sufficient recovery between HIIT sessions, as the high-intensity nature of the workout can be demanding on the body. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least 48 hours of recovery between HIIT sessions.
It's not just about HIIT?
In addition to HIIT, it's also important to incorporate other forms of exercise into your training programme.
Combining HIIT training with Zone 2 training can be a potent approach to developing your fitness and athletic performance. HIIT training provides high-intensity stimulus that can help to improve your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2Max), power, and speed, while Zone 2 training provides a low-intensity endurance stimulus that can help to improve your endurance, fat utilisation, and mitochondrial density.
By combining these two forms of training, you can create a balanced and well-rounded training program that addresses multiple aspects of fitness. This can help to reduce the risk of overtraining and injury, while maximising the benefits of each type of training.
HIIT training offers significant benefits for HYROX and hybrid athletes, helping to improve cardiovascular fitness, build strength, and boost performance. By incorporating HIIT workouts into your training plan, you can optimise your athletic abilities and achieve greater success in your chosen sport.
If you're ready to take your HYROX or hybrid training to the next level, let Box:Perform help you create a personalised plan that incorporates HIIT and other proven training methods. Our experts use state-of-the-art performance testing, such as VO2Max and lactate threshold assessments, to develop a tailored program that will help you reach your goals. Click the link below to book a consultation and get started on your journey towards becoming the best HYROX or hybrid athlete you can be.