HIIT Running: Train Less for Better Results
Better results in less time. What’s not to love about HIIT training? Melt fat fast with these three running HIIT workouts!
The statement train less and obtain better results seems a little backwards. How can I reduce the amount of time I spend training but increase my results outside of the gym? With HIIT running, thats how.
What’s the basic concept?
The idea is that 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can deliver the same physiological benefits (such as improved endurance, and reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes) as three hours of long, slow running.
It seems that short bursts of high intensity exercise – 30-second all-out sprints with a work-to-recovery ratio of around 1:6 – may stimulate the same cellular pathways as long, steady state aerobic exercise. In other words: the same health gains of running but in a fraction of the time. But, of course, there’s a catch: Those short bursts of running are tough.
What’s the risk?
HIIT sessions require maximal efforts which are very intense. This means you rely primarily on your anaerobic system for energy during the interval. If the aerobic system uses oxygen on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, the anaerobic system generates an oxygen ‘debt’, which needs paying off as soon as you back off from the full-on effort.
But as long as you have the OK from your doctor to exercise, this is entirely safe. Just remember that maximal exercise of any sort puts considerable stress on your muscles, joints and connective tissues. There’s no further benefit to be had from doing more than two days of HIIT per week. And you need time to recover, so allow at least one full day of recovery between sessions. Prioritise longer, low-intensity sessions in your training week, and include strength and conditioning work to help prevent injury.
Make sure you are also eating well to compliment your intense sessions. The increase in demand placed on your body is enough to see significant body composition results over a short period of time. You do not need to increase the demand on your body by dramatically dieting whilst doing HIIT training. If you feel you are struggling to give 100% during your work phase in your intervals then chances are you are not eating enough good sources of carbohydrate.
Endurance is more important to me than explosive speed. Can I still benefit?
There’s no doubt that long, steady runs are the most effective means of training for an endurance race. They boost the fatigue resistance of slow-twitch muscle fibres; HIIT has its greatest impact on fast-twitch fibres. So why should you include HIIT sessions in a long distance training programme?
One good reason is that although the fast-twitch fibres may not be as fuel-efficient or resistant to fatigue, they join in the action when leg muscles start to tire in the latter stages of a race. So you may get a boost to your overall muscular endurance.
It’s also important to get your legs used to running at higher speeds. This will increase your overall race pace during your steady runs as well as giving you a better ‘kick’ on the home straight.
Three simple high-intensity sessions
HIIT on a track
Running on the track is very different to running on hard concrete. The natural bounce of the track makes it easier on the body than road running.
Warm up with five laps at an easy pace – gradually speed up so that you end up running briskly. Then do 200m at maximal sprint effort followed by 400m gentle jog. Repeat six times.
HIIT on a treadmill
Treadmill sprints are an easy way to fit HIIT running into your routine. You are free to focus on just running your sprints as opposed to watching out for traffic on the road or worrying about checking times and paces on your watch.
Set the incline to one per cent to try to replicate running on the road. Warm up by running gently, gradually building speed, for 10 minutes. On an effort scale of one to 10, you should be at five to six by the end. Run 30 seconds at close to maximal speed (which is at least 18km/h on the treadmill for most people); jog gently for three minutes. Repeat four to six times.
HIIT in the Pool
Yeah thats right in the pool. This variation is perfect for anybody recovering from injury or putting in a large amount of miles on the road. The low impact nature of running in water takes all the stress from the joints and puts the effort into the muscles.
Position yourself in shallow water between the navel and chest. You should be able to comfortably stand with both feet on the bottom of the pool floor. Begin jogging in place and gradually increase the intensity by running in place or even running the lap lane. Warm up for approximately five to 10 minutes to allow the body to acclimate and prepare for the intervals. Sprint all out for 30 seconds before taking a 15 second rest. Repeat this 8 times.