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HIIT Training | What is the hype all about?

The Athletarian
The Athletarian

Sport enthusiasists are often confronted with the question of how quick successes can be reconciled with better long-term fitness.

With the concept of HIIT training, a training method has been developed that offers athletes the opportunity to get the most out of their training in a short period of time and to achieve effective, fast results.

What is HIIT?

The word stands for high intensity interval training and is a training method that can be applied to a variety of sports.

It originated from the field of long-distance running and became famous especially through the multiple Olympic champion Emil Zátopek. Zápotek developed the idea of training in intervals, where very intensive units were completed in several short periods of time. At his peak times he was said to have completed as many as 40 x 400 meters in 80 seconds while wearing military boots!

This unusual method allowed him to achieve top performances. In today's sense, HIIT means the alternation of intensive training units with maximum load and recovery units. In terms of long-distance running, this means that in a workout phases of short sprints are followed by walking breaks. A rule often stated is that the workout should not last longer than 30 minutes to avoid overloading overexertion and injury.

Getting started, 15 to 20 minutes also suffice. How does it work exactly? This will be demonstrated using the example of long-distance running. As in any sport, there is a warm-up phase of about 5 minutes. After that you might think about an interval in which you complete a defined distance of e.g. 100 meters as a fast sprint and then take a short recovery walking slowly.

After the rest unit you run the next section of the course with maximum load. For the beginning of the training 15 to 20 seconds sprint should be enough. During this time you should go to your maximum load limit and run at the highest possible speed. As a rule of thumb, the recovery units should be about 3 times longer than the sprint, but should last no longer than 90 seconds.

At the beginning, shorter training sessions of 10 minutes are suitable, which can be done twice a week. In the further process of the training the distance completed during the working unit can be increased.

However, it is important to take at least two rest days between training sessions since the body cannot regenerate sufficiently otherwise. The advantage of the method is that successes are quickly visible: Many report the first small changes in physical condition after 2-3 weeks.

The advantages of the method

What objective benefits does HIIT training offer? The method starts at the athlete's aenerobic threshold, i.e. the maximum load limit. Due to its time efficiency, the training is particularly suitable for professional athletes who want to get the most out of their training sessions. A clear advantage is the increase in fitness.

The high-intensity interval training stimulates the cardiovascular system and improves the body's oxygen capacity, allowing runners and other athletes to recover more quickly over time and train with even greater endurance. In international studies, athletes who chose this method showed a faster increase in endurance than in the comparison group with only regular cardio training.

Furthermore, the method also fosters the afterburning effect during exercise. Due to the intensive load, the body burns calories even after training, which makes the activity even more efficient.

Getting started

First of all, it is important to know your own limits and not to exaggerate it. HIIT is an extremely demanding method and requires a certain amount of basic fitness.

So first of all a normal long distance training or another sport should be completed in the usual way. Get in slowly and do not overtax yourself! Even if the method stands for maximum load, this does not mean that you have to overdo it.

An efficient training also includes the knowledge of your own limits and a slow but sustainable increase. During the workout the use of an app might be convenient for you.

In the Google Playstore and Applestore there are a number of applications that allow athletes to set their own training intervals. The intervals are announced by a counter in the app and ended by a beep, so that you can fully concentrate on your training. Of course you can also train at home on a treadmill.

Get started today!

Want to get more? Then try out the method at home or outdoors. If you hang in on there and do regular training sessions, you will quick achieve your first successes and reach true sporting excellence.