HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a type of training that mixes shorts bursts of activity with even shorter rest periods. The athletes are asked to give an all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bouts of exercise. Recovery periods are also very brief and the aim is to elevate the athlete’s heart rate and burn more calories in less time.
There are many benefits to HIIT. First of all, it is quick and convenient. HIIT workouts can be done anywhere: at home, in a park, at the gym, etc. and because the athlete is pushing their limits, these workouts tend to be shorter and most are 30 minutes or less. There is also no equipment necessary and HIIT workouts generally incorporate bodyweight exercises since the focus is on getting the heart rate up and keeping it there. Combining high intensity training with interval training also results in an elevated metabolic rate that burns fat.
However, there is debate on when HIIT is appropriate for youth athletes. If proper form isn’t emphasized with this type of exercise, there is a greater risk for injury due to its intense nature. Individuals should be proficient in plyometric exercises if high-impact, explosive movements are utilized. HIIT can be a safe mode of training as long as the program is conducted by a qualified coach and is prescribed to the right individual.
At Champion’s QUEST, we use HIIT in our Champion’s Challenge clinics to increase an athlete’s work rate while minimizing their rest. HIIT is also used to mimic the demands that a short burst athlete, like a soccer player, might face out on the field. The short work interval, followed by a shorter rest period, can develop sports-specific fitness more effectively than running for distance or time. If safety of the athlete and proper form is emphasized, then HIIT can be an effective type of exercise for anyone.
About the Author:
Coach Kyle Ertel, Soccer Performance Coach, CSCS USA-W USSF