High intensity interval training (HIIT) can be really effective for triathletes for a number of reasons. If you are looking to improve endurance, speed and cadence then taking into consideration some HIIT could be highly beneficial. One of the most obvious benefits of high intensity interval training is the ability to achieve higher quality training levels in a shorter period time; And as triathletes we know that there is a lack of time in the day as it is. High intensity training will also boost metabolism, aid in weight loss and, most importantly, an increase in anaerobic threshold.
If you are a triathlete considering incorporating high-intensity interval training into your swimming, cycling, and running workouts, or even during strength training sessions, here are a couple of the major benefits of HIIT.
Increase Anaerobic Threshold (aka Lactate Threshold)
To compete at sub-threshold intensity, it is necessary to train far above your anaerobic threshold. As it is not possible to remain in an anaerobic state for a long period of time, one of the principle benefits of high-intensity interval training is its ability to increase your anaerobic threshold. High-intensity interval training is based on the interval training philosophy of “test and rest,” or interspersing brief periods of maximal effort with those of lower intensity. After working with a HIIT regimen, you will be able to increase the length of time of your efforts, thus raising your anaerobic threshold and in turn improving your athletic performance.
Create Larger and More Abundant Mitochondria (Found in most cells, in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur)
High-intensity interval training also enhances your mitochondrial profile. Mitochondria break down fats and carbohydrates in order for you to gain access to energy. The greater the capacity and larger the size of your mitochondria, the higher the speed you will be able to reach before hitting a point where anaerobic forces slow you down. Having larger and more numerous mitochondria also allow you to recover more quickly from intense, lactate-accumulating efforts. While longer, lower intensity exercises will initially build up mitochondria, you will eventually reach a stage where mitochondria no longer build in density.
So how should you pace your high-intensity interval training efforts?
Based on research we recommend between 20 seconds and 4 minutes worth of work with 10 seconds - 90 seconds rest.
On a bike, this should be 120% or more of lactate threshold power output. Alternatively, you can choose to train at 92% or greater of your 5K race pace, or 75% to 93% of your average for a 100-split from a 400-meter swimming time trial.
Whatever interval training method you choose, remember to set aside time for rest and recovery. If you cannot rest the following day, you should complete a workout no more challenging than an endurance ride or swim or light workout session.
If you are looking for a High Intensity workout to try at home give our 12 minute HIIT session a go.