How to add HIIT into your training
When you think of ‘Cardio’, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
People often confuse this style of training as merely steady-state running, or an idle hour on the cross-trainer at the gym. As useful as these modalities of conditioning may be, it is crucial to understand how and when to implement them and other alternatives we can utilise in our training.
What is H.I.I.T.?
The term metabolic conditioning or ‘HIIT’ is one of the most popular methods used worldwide and is a great way to maximise the dose-response relationship we see from training. To name just a handful of the physiological adaptations from HIIT training: lean muscle growth; strength endurance; cardiovascular fitness and potent fat-loss.
But how exactly does metabolic conditioning work? And, are you utilising it to its full capacity? To understand this, we need a fundamental awareness of the human metabolism and the energy pathways we navigate when training. In short, there are three primary energy systems in the body: the phosphagenic system (anaerobic pathway) which we use for the short bursts of effort when sprinting or jumping; the glycolytic pathways that are used for slightly longer efforts and often induce a build up of lactate; and finally, we have oxidative phosphorylation (aerobic pathway) which is what you call upon when walking or jogging for extended periods of time.
Maximising Your Energy Pathways
The human body is capable of extraordinary feats of physical effort and the beauty of such an intricate ‘engine room’ means we can focus on an individual energy pathway through the manipulation of exercise selection, intensity output and work-to-rest ratios. If your coach has the ability to align and manage these variables, you are well on your way to maximising the benefits of specific and purposeful conditioning. Training at a particular % of your maximum heart rate will elicit a whole array of physical responses – sprinting maximally for example in a session develops neuromuscular power and requires longer recovery periods in order to maximise its benefits. Engaging in multi-planar movements such as burpees can also produce a similar heart rate response to that of a max-effort sprint. The heart is not fully aware whether you are running, jumping or lifting weights – it merely beats to the rate required to deliver the oxygen for the intensity being produced.
Why you should incorporate HIIT training
The beauty of metabolic conditioning is that your cardiovascular system responds to the stress you put it under – this means we have hundreds of ways of varying the content within a session. Combine a range of loaded and un-loaded movements within your conditioning and you will produce some of the quickest and most effective physiological and metabolic responses within the human body. The freedom you have within this style of training allows you to optimise your energy systems for whichever performance or training goal you have. You can oscillate between capacity and power, across aerobic, lactic and alactic parameters, with the ultimate goal of producing the greatest possible version of yourself on the training floor and in your daily life.
At Hybrid MMA, we encourage members to partake in a variety of training modalities and to combine their metabolic conditioning with our Strength & Power sessions. Why do we do this? Because if you just rain with huge levels of lactate on a daily basis, although it can act as a potent fat stimulus, you empty the ‘bank account’ of your energy reserves. The key to a well-rounded training programme is understanding when to develop strength and mitigate heavy glycolytic work in order to develop your capacity for holistic physical development.
In summary, metabolic conditioning stresses your body through a bout of exercise, you recover, and you repeat. This is the crux of how you become fitter and stronger. You must be mindful that intensity of exercise determines energy metabolism and that it needs to be utilised as a tool and not as the sole focus for the session. If you are interested in exploring this style of training and with the guidance of an individualised programme, speak with Coach Gabriel or one of the other members of the Hybrid Team and we will start you on your journey to achieving your full physical potential.