In the past few years, the benefits of HIIT programming have become more common knowledge in popular culture. We know that HIIT programming has been shown to improve performance in runners. An even more important take away is that these benefits can be achieved with adding HIIT and decreasing total mileage. Training methods are moving more towards focusing on mean running intensity, or the average effort/exertion over a training cycle, instead of weekly distance or duration.
A study published this month in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research took the steps to begin to determine how HITT programming improves performance. The study tested 13 experienced triathletes who were divided into experimental and control groups. Both groups before a sprint triathlon (in a controlled environment at the same sports facility) and were assess in squat jump and counter-jump movement height. Over 5 weeks the control group performed their usual swimming, biking, and running training regimens. The experimental group did the usual swimming and biking, but altered their running program to include HIIT programming and decreased total weekly mileage (an average decrease in mileage of about 69.8%).
The HIIT programming included 3-4 sessions a week of either 100 meter, 400 meter, 120 second, or all out sprint efforts. Results showed that the experimental group improved their performance during the sprint triathlon—2.9% improvement on the swim, 0.47% improvement for cycling, and 3.93% for the run. Improved muscular power was shown in the squat jump and counter-jump movement as well, indicating that the athletes had physical adaptations that allowed for improvement in all three legs of the race—not just the run.
So, this is crucial information for the athlete looking to stay on top of the latest training techniques— using a HIIT running program can improve performance across sports... and at a decreased mileage!
- Cathlin Fitzgerald, PT, DPT, CSCS, CAFS
- NY Custom PT & Performance
- 295 Madison Avenue #1026
- New York, NY 10017
- Garcia-Pinillos F Camara-Perez JC Soto-Hermoso VM Latorre-Roman PA. “A high intensity interval training (HIIT)—based running plan improves athletic performance by improving muscle power“. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2016; 31(1): 146-153.