HIIT training, or High Intensity Interval Training has been around for ages. In fact, I have no doubt you will have heard of it.

But what is it? and is it actually beneficial for mountain biking, running and cycling?

Or are you better in the weights room?

I want to look at these sports from two perspectives, weight loss and performance based. And give you an answer on both fronts!

So, let's get into it:

What is HIIT training?

HIIT training is simply, circuit based workouts where you mix multiple exercises together to create short and sharp workouts, this can be weight based, or bodyweight.

HIIT training is typically done in classes, or by people who have little time to train but still want to get an effective workout under their belt.

The beauty of HIIT training is that it can be polished off in 15-30 minutes. And leaves your body burning calories for the rest of the day.

So it is a very time effective way to train.

But is it any good?

Weight loss:

If, like many others part of your reason for running, or cycling is weight loss then HIIT training can definitely help you.

It is a shock to the system in a very different way that endurance based runs or rides. It uses different energy systems and can also keep your metabolism burning all day.

Typically longer styles of exercise burn a large amount of calories during the activity, but then this slows down.

For example:

Yesterday I went on the road bike, I burnt 2500 calories during the ride, this then gradually slowed down as I went back to relaxing for the rest of my Sunday so my total calorie burn for the day was 4568.

Which is a lot, but it slows down after riding and my normal calorie burn was only 2068.

HIIT training burns less calories during the exercise, but because your body is working at a more intense rate, it is in a shocked state and burns more calories through the course of the day. so essentially what you are doing is causing your metabolic rate (how many calories you burn through the day) to be higher than usual due to recovery.

Both of these are valid methods of losing weight, and combining the two can only be good for you body, to keep it guessing and reduce the risk of adaptation to exercise.

So in short, yes. HIIT training does work if you want to lose weight and cycle.

It can also make training more bearable if you don't have a particular interest in it, as you aren't doing it for longer. Increasing your levels of activity and your overall metabolic rate. Meaning faster, healthier weight loss.

But what about performance?

HIIT training and performance is slightly more tricky. When training specifically for a sport there are elements you can take from HIIT training. However. I want to say something straight away:

If you are training for big distance runs or rides, HIIT training will do nothing to improve that. You would benefit much more from strengthening up your body with a proper S&C plan.

However, there are things you can take from HIIT training:

Typically HIIT training involves jumping movements, I have spoken before about how jumping can help out with impact resistance and reduce the risk of these injuries. While this won't be anywhere near as effective as proper plyometrics it is better than nothing.

For mountain bikers HIIT training can be beneficial for stage based races like enduro's, during stages that last about 5+ minutes HIIT training is a great way to replicate this.

However I would argue that you are better following a proper strength plan in the gym, and focusing on these stages on the bike rather than HIIT workouts.

So while you can benefit from certain aspects of HIIT training. I wouldn't 100% use it when training most runners or cyclists. If they want to drop some body fat then sure, HIIT training can be a great way to workout.

But I would rather put limited training time towards a proper plan, that strengthens up the bodies muscular and bone system and focus on weight loss by doing exercises in these plans that elevate HR and burn calories that way.

I would love to know your thoughts on this,  have you used HIIT training to your advantage?

Is it in your training plan?

Send me an email on the contact form below and let me know:

Stay safe, stay outdoors.


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