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The Science Of HIIT Training

Analyzing endurance-based training we have three key aspects we want to think about to keep things as simple as possible. The first one is Long Slow Distance Training (LSD). With LSD training, we want to think about being a distance runner, a cross country skier, or a rower who is training for a duration of 50, 60, 70 minutes, or more to contribute to developing mitochondrial volume.

The second aspect of endurance-based training has us focusing on sprint interval training. Sprint interval training requires doing things at higher intensities. We might be on the assault bike for all-out efforts or running hill sprints at incredibly fast clips. We then rest and repeat the efforts.


Each form of endurance training can impact our health and performance differently. That is why we need to talk about mitochondria. The more efficient our mitochondria are, the better we can recover from training; we can also have a higher output over a longer span of time. As the power plant in virtually every single human, animal, fungi, and plant cell, mitochondria play an essential role in creating energy for essentially all human functionality.

The production of ATP is quite a complex process. Mitochondrial respiration is the set of metabolic reactions and processes requiring oxygen that takes place inside the mitochondria. This converts the energy stored in macronutrients into ATP. ATP is the universal energy donor in the cell. Mitochondria generate ATP to then be used as an energy source for muscular actions. Typically human cells contain about 1K to 2.5K mitochondria depending on a human’s genetics and training. The amount of mitochondria plays a huge role in how much energy the mitochondria can then develop to improve muscular action.

Benefits of HIIT

The production of ATP is quite a complex process. Mitochondrial respiration is the set of metabolic reactions and processes requiring oxygen that takes place inside the mitochondria. This converts the energy stored in macronutrients into ATP. ATP is the universal energy donor in the cell. Mitochondria generate ATP to then be used as an energy source for muscular actions. Typically human cells contain about 1K to 2.5K mitochondria depending on a human’s genetics and training. The amount of mitochondria plays a huge role in how much energy the mitochondria can then develop to improve muscular action.

Assault Bike

A great example of HIIT would be doing something like the assault bike. I personally like to go 4 straight minutes holding between 70 to 80 RPMs. That allows me to hold my heart rate at 90% of its capacity. After that one set, I recommend taking a 3-minute break. That 3-minute break can be passive, just walking around the gym or peddling at a very low intensity. After that break, it is back on the bike to try to complete it a total of four times.

Hill Sprints

Running can be done by sprinting on a track or a hill. One thing that can be done when doing hill sprints is to treat it like a fartlek (speed play in Swedish). Typically a fartlek could be running 200 meters hard and then jogging 200 meters, alternating for the span of 20 to 25 minutes. With hills, I like to sprint up the hill as hard as possible and then do a brisk walk/jog back to the bottom of the hill. Do this throughout a time span of 20 minutes and record how many sprints up the hill are completed. By tracking the sprints completed, you can see how much faster you are doing, but more importantly how fast you are recovering between sprinting efforts. It will improve your overall endurance.    

Tabata Protocol 

The Tabata protocol is 20 straight seconds of movement followed by 10 seconds off. It is done for 4 straight minutes. That totals out to 8 sets of 20 seconds on, and 10 seconds off. The exercise done during the work can vary. Give it a try with box jumps, air squats, or push-ups. 

Sled Push

Most HIIT sessions should be at least 20 minutes but shouldn’t last longer than 30 to 35 minutes. A great thing that can be done is pushing on the sled. Push the sled for 20 to 30 seconds as hard as possible. Then rest for 30 to 40 seconds. Do this on a 20-minute to 25-minute clock. The pushing of the sled on and off is continuous for a substantial amount of time. The quads will blow up, but the lungs will also burn and the body’s mitochondrial respiration will improve as well. 

Recap

In this blog, we looked at the 3 basic forms of endurance-based training. We also went into depth about mitochondrial functionality. In addition, we provided four protocols that can be used today to improve overall endurance. Give it a go, let us know how it goes, and comment below!  

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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