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High intensity interval training

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At first glance training for an event can seem relatively simple. Whether you're preparing for a marathon, a triathlon or even an ironman it would seem logical that the best thing to do is to carry out those disciplines, push harder and improve. However you only need to look at the complexity of any successful athlete's training regime to understand the necessity of supporting methods. As a runner I've had it drilled into me many times how important core work is in making improvements, and if Andy Murray is anything to go by, the addition of strength training has enormous value in the world of tennis.

Geoff Bagshaw, area Group Fitness Manager at Equinox UK and trainer on the ETC programme, is no stranger to the value of HIIT in event preparation. As a keen runner himself along with being a veteran trainer for people working towards a variety of challenges, I decided to speak to him about the benefits of high-intensity group sessions in event preparation.

What is high-intensity interval training?

High intensity interval training (or HIIT) refers to alternating bouts of high intensity work with low to moderate intensity intervals. HIIT can be applied to traditional cardiovascular exercises such as running, rowing, cycling, etc or used for strength conditioning drills. Rather than enduring marathon length training sessions, it's been proven that shorter workouts employing HIIT principles will get significant results in terms of changes in body composition and overall fitness levels in a much more time-efficient manner. Studies have shown that with high intensity interval work there is a noticeable 'after burn' where an exerciser's metabolic rate remains in an elevated state for anywhere from a few hours and all the way up to 48 hours post-exercise.

Who should undertake it?

It's recommend that someone have a good base level of fitness or a foundation in terms of strength and endurance before embarking on a HIIT training programme. However, the exercises can be adapted to accommodate all levels with progressions and regressions.

What benefits does it have for people training for athletic events such as marathons and triathlons?

Many marathoners and triathletes tend to shy away from HIIT training. However, this is a very beneficial way for time crunched athletes to get in the workload required for them to make noticeable gains in their performance. To really have HIIT workouts get results for a runner or triathlete they should be employing several principles including - ensuring that they are really giving max effort on the bouts of high intensity work; being mindful of the rest and recovery needed after a HIIT session; and being aware of and correcting any form and technique flaws at higher performance levels when fatigue sets in.

How many sessions a week are required to see positive gains?

Two to three HIIT workouts per week can be integrated into a balanced, holistic training programme. It's highly recommended to cross-train and include restorative work (yoga, foam rolling and myofascial release techniques) to prevent any overuse injuries or overtraining.

How long will it take for people see gains from taking part in a HIIT programme?

Most individuals who exercise regularly and incorporate HIIT training into their existing programme will likely see results in as little as a few weeks.

What is different about ETC than other similar classes?

ETC is a modern approach to boot camp training. Designed as a 6 to 8 week programme, the participants commit to 3 workouts a week for the duration of the programme series. Having that level of commitment or programme adherence, combined with a periodized workout format that builds each week in terms of exercise intensity and complexity, virtually guarantees results for the participants. One of the other unique features of ETC is the fact that it is all about building community within the group. Some of the exercise drills are done individually while others involve partner or team work, which only serves to increase the sense of community and the feeling of support from the other participants.

How many calories can people expect to burn?

Participants can expect to burn anywhere from 600 to 1,000 calories per one hour ETC session.

To take part in ETC you must be a member of Equinox gym.

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