“Hey man – you should jump on the HIIT training regime to get epic EPOC results to boost your type II and type IIa muscle fibers!”
In the fitness industry’s cray cray world of “do this, now do that” acronyms and code-speak, lets break-down (very broadly) what the 3 most common types of training for fitness and fat-loss are these days.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
HIIT training is short bursts of vigorous, but not necessarily high impact, exercise with short recovery periods that never quite let the athlete recover all the way. This form of training spikes your oxygen consumption levels massively during the exercise, and also for an extended period afterwards (up to 8 hours or so). This leads to it being very effectively used as a weight-loss regime and also a supplement to other endurance based training to help overcome training plateaus.
The easiest way to think of HIIT training is: TABATA – where an intense movement, such as sprinting on a bike, is executed for 20 seconds and followed by a 10 second rest period. Usually repeated for a period of up to 5-8 minutes and then done again with either the same exercise or a different one over 3-4 repetitions. The other examples are class based – like Les Mills GRIT, a 30 minute high intensity class done to music with a huge variety of moves like sprints, jumps, dodges, pushups, lifts, shuffles and burpees. HIIT is often picked because it yields great results over short timeframes – though if you’re an endurance athlete it wont get you your long-burn activities on it’s own.
Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISS):
LISS is also beneficial to weight-loss but in a different way to HIIT. When moderate levels of fitness/endurance are achieved, LISS is very effective to maintain a consistent burn. Hver at the beginning of an exercise program, LISS won’t give you as quick results as HIIT simply due to the nature of not being able to undertake the exercise for extended periods.
Essentially – LISS is doing a steady cardio action (like running) at around 60% of your max heart-rate for an extended period of time (30 mins and upwards). LISS is the predominant method of improving your aerobic endurance and has a faster recovery time than HIIT, being less intense on your body and is psychologically easier than HIIT training. The typical LISS activities can include marathons, triathlons and the like where events go for multiple hours.
Plyometric Training (PLYO)
Often confused with HIIT – they are very similar – PLYO is explosive training that will definitely make you work at a massive intensity level. PLYO is about bursts of all out effort, often with impact activities of jumping burpees, jump squats and clap pushups. Not always restricted with a shorter rest, the idea is to get your muscles to produce their maximum power output in a short time-frame. This is the training that allows for explosive skills like back-saults and other parkour-esque wizardry.
The main benefits of plyometric training are dramatic increases in speed and strength, based around your own body-weight. The feeling of being able to manipulate your own body comfortably and powerfully is a confidence inspirer to be sure. The only thing to watch is that IS high impact. If you have joint issues, then these need to be managed as they will take a beating if you’re not careful.
So you can see that PLYO and HIIT are very similar in nature and are often incorporated together into a single workout – I codename this one, “jumpy jumpy, spew spew”.
What’s the best option?
Why, all of them of course! Ok, back up a little. If you’re getting started and want the fastest results, then HIIT is our recommendation (it’s also very time efficient – in and out training).
Heading for some longer events? Then you should definitely be incorporating LISS into your workouts, BUT you should also be engaging HIIT. Training the longer endurance for longer events make sense, but increasing your oxygen efficiency through HIIT is going to have a MASSIVE positive effect on your ability to adapt to changing fatigue levels.
Short, Sharp, and Explosive? Yeah you guessed PLYO. If there is no requirement for any extended period of training, then LISS is not for you. If you’re a performer that needs to punch out extreme moves, than PLYO is all you need. If you’re into Parkour, where you are running between moves, than incorporating HIIT to increase your recovery capabilities is going to help.
What do we recommend? ALL OF THEM. Seriously – it’s part of our weekly training to do all of these. Personally, having the ability to do all activities is my cup of tea. This is the hardest training to do, as you need the time to invest in each, but in our humble opinion, is the most rewarding. Being able to participate in triathlons, Obstacle course races and Gym competitions alike is a great feeling. Whatever your cup of tea, mix it up for better results and to kick-start the body into the next state of training and through your current road-blocks.
Hope it helped guys – Pete.