Last updated on September 24th, 2023.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a training method that allows trainers to improve several aspects of athletics in short periods with near maximal exercises. These exercises are placed into exercise programs to boost everything from VO2 max to chemicals in your bloodstream. So what are eleven HIIT training benefits for athletes?
Eleven benefits of HIIT for athletes are:
- Increased VO2 Max
- Burns More Calories
- Increased Fat Burning
- Heart Protection
- Mind Training
- Stabilize Blood Sugar
- Lower Blood Pressure
- More Work
HIIT is one of the most efficient ways to train. These workouts are intense and will take around a half-hour to complete. Don’t be intimidated by hard work! Read about the benefits of HIIT for athletes.
What is HIIT Training?
HIIT is the acronym for High-Intensity Interval Training. It is a form of interval training that focuses on light weight combined with vigorous bouts of cardiovascular activity. It increases the heart rate to the point that you are still burning fat even during rest periods and beyond.
HIIT sessions are much shorter than a typical steady-state cardio session. Instead, they combine just a few multi-joint exercises with a cardio exercise, like running or kettlebell swings, packaged with a weight-bearing movement. Ask any Certified Personal Trainer and they’ll tell you the combo of weight and cardio is like rocket fuel for the system. The results come rapidly.
What Happens if you do HIIT Every Day?
HIIT is the secret sauce for busting workout plateaus and banishing belly fat. But unfortunately, it is also an excellent way to get hurt or burn out. There are definite dangers to doing a high-intensity workout consistently, and getting hurt is never a good look for your fitness goals.
A few things that happen if you do HIIT every day are:
- Overtraining – HIIT is an excellent way to over-train yourself. The high-impact movements combined with heavyweights can be tough on your joints if overdone. In addition, nutrition is fundamental to overall health and doing HIIT workouts every day will stifle your progress by making your muscles constantly sore or robbing them of nutrients needed for recovery.
- Burnout – Something that gets more new gym-goers than sore muscles is burnout. Doing HIIT sessions have this same effect if done every session. The intensity of the exercise will be hard on your mental processes. You will have to find the nerve to begin the sessions and the brainpower to make it through.
Doing HIIT every day isn’t recommended. That doesn’t mean you can’t get in a couple of sessions a week, but it does mean that using it as your main form of training is a lesson in futility. It is hard on your body and your mind.
How Many Times a Week Should you do HIIT?
The best rule of thumb is to have no more than two high-intensity workouts per week. Working out is part work and part recovery. So knowing to listen to your body and keep HIIT sessions down to a couple of times a week will give you the keys to your fitness dreams.
Is a Twenty Minute HIIT Enough?
Yes, twenty-minute HIIT workouts are enough. The workouts used in a HIIT session are incredibly potent and setting aside just a few days a week, you can make significant strides towards your fitness goals. Remember that doing too many HIIT workouts will be harmful and could derail your goals. Use them sparingly. A personal trainer needs to know a lot of things about your physique to get you the right workout.
Is HIIT Good for Losing Belly Fat?
Yes, one of the hidden benefits of HIIT workouts is that they burn belly fat at a higher rate. Your body doesn’t get to choose where it loses its weight. HIIT workouts have a way of using all your musculature during a session, which means you burn more calories. Burning more calories means you lose more weight, and Americans often store the most fat in their belly.
Eleven HIIT Benefits for Athletes
The benefits of HIIT are not to be ignored. As a high-intensity short-bout exercise, the benefits go beyond the steady-state long-distance cardio workouts we grew up with. They provide excellent benefits for athletes and can be a secret weapon for downing the competition.
1. An Increased VO2 Max is a Major Benefit of HIIT
Being able to outlast your competitor is a huge part of a competition. With increased HIIT sessions, your VO2 max will allow you to run, jump, and lift more. During a HIIT workout, the constant battle in your lungs will enable you to go past your maximal and be an absolute terror to your opponent.
2. Burning More Calories is Another Benefit of HIIT for Athletes
Burning more calories than during a routine workout session is a trademark of HIIT. The workouts are created so that the combination of work and exercise selection makes your body a furnace. If you burn more calories as an athlete, you set the stage for better athletic performance, and continued loss of bad calories equals trouble for the competition
3. EPOC is the Secret Key to HIIT’s Success
One of the hidden benefits of HIIT is EPOC. Excessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is the secret sauce of high-intensity training. EPOC is the body’s reaction to high-intensity exercise, and it can lead to fat-burning levels hours after your session. After a session, your body will be burning fat for hours. As a result, less fat is shown to increase athletic performance.
Some ways you can tell EPOC is working after the workout are:
- Sweat – One of the craziest things about EPOC is how it makes you sweat. Once the workout is over, and your body has stabilized from the shower, it will begin to sweat again. This is because the internal temp of your body will remain high during EPOC.
- Blood Flow – Your blood will pump like the Colorado river when EPOC is working. Your body believes it is still in exercise. Your blood will get closer to the skin in an effort to cool it, which exacerbates the sweating, and you could get the same ‘runner’s high’ you get from an hour of roadwork.
EPOC is one of those hidden gems that wasn’t discovered until HIIT came under scientific scrutiny. The fact that these processes occur by using a style of exercise training gives hope to other athletes that it will unlock their potential and bring them the glory they are seeking.
4. Increased Fat Burning is Another Athletic Benefit of HIIT
HIIT has made its way beyond the athletic fields because of its ability to increase your ability to burn fat. Usually, the exercises that comprise a HIIT session are multi-joint movements. This gets your body roasting off fat cells by using the most muscle to complete the set. Being able to burn fat at a higher rate is excellent for athletes training in the pre or off-season.
5. HIIT is a Way to Protect Your Heart
The human body is mysterious and amazing. HIIT exercise sessions are a sure-fire way to strengthen your heart. Your heart is a muscle just like your chest or biceps. It becomes stronger when you train it at a high level, allowing you more stroke volume and a few other hidden benefits. HIIT protects the heart by creating stronger contractions and pumping more blood.
6. Training the Mind is Critical for All Athletes
There comes the point in an athletic competition where the one with the strongest mind will win. Competition brings out the best in athletes. By using a few high-intensity interval training sessions, those same athletes can increase every aspect of their training. The mind will seek comfort. HIIT sessions teach the body to fight through the alarm bells ringing in your head.
A few ways that HIIT trains the mind are:
- Learn Your Limits – Your body is set up for homeostasis. Anything that could upset that makes the brain look for anything to get back to normal. When you exercise at a high level, your brain will tell you to stop. HIIT sessions teach you to talk your mind out of quitting and push your limits.
- Procrastination – HIIT workouts improve the mind against procrastination. These workouts are tough. The body knows that and will come up with all kinds of reasons to avoid these workouts. After a few sessions, you realize the role your mind is playing. You turn from being pensive to excited about how far you can push yourself.
The mind is potent. Using some HIIT workouts and pushing the intensity shows the mind to throw caution to the wind and improve your athletic ability. Once the mind is conquered, you have the stage set for some of your most significant victories.
7. Stabilizing Blood Sugar is Another Hidden Benefit of HIIT for Athletes
Blood sugar is an important marker for athletes. HIIT workouts cleanse the blood of harmful sugars that create cravings and could lead to obesity. Regulation of blood sugar by HIIT helps athletes by allowing them to eat cleaner and make the appropriate food choices leading up to a competition.
8. Lower Blood Pressure is Another Benefit of HIIT for Athletes
Having lower blood pressure allows you to push the envelope farther during competition. In addition, low blood pressure means your veins and arteries are pumping at top efficiency, and you are at less risk for heart attacks and failure.
9. Being Able to Do More Work is Great for Athletes
If you can train more and work on your game plan for more extended periods, you will get the results you want. The HIIT sessions work to increase not just your VO2 but all the other markers associated with fitness and competition. HIITs are tools that open the door for more work sessions and create more opportunities for the athlete to get better.
A few more benefits of being able to do more work are:
- Practice and Preparation – Having more time and energy to dedicate to practicing and getting ready for your match/game is an excellent by-product of HIIT. When you have a body that works at the highest level, you can dedicate more time to the things outside of athletics, like studying, to help you win the day.
- Mastery – It can’t be understated how much the capability to handle more work is integral for athletes. The extra time placed into the sport or activity increases the threshold for skill mastery. Once someone has mastered sports skills, their marketability goes through the roof. Giving them career options off the field or floor.
- Recovery – Recovery is vital for athletes. Being able to bounce back from training sessions faster than your opponents provides another HIIT advantage that can be exploited.
An athlete who uses HIIT has more energy and sees improvement across the board in athletic ability. The hidden benefits for athletes are more time to train and less time to recover. Once more time is spent on a skill, they can master it, improving athletic ability and giving them an option of teaching or coaching after they conclude competition.
10. Efficient Workouts Provide Rhythm for Athletes
Getting in a rhythm and moving ahead is the mantra of efficient programs. HIIT is one of the most efficient forms of exercise because you do a tremendous amount of work with little time and equipment. HIIT training sessions are no-frills and all skills. That’s good training!
11. HIIT Sessions are Serious Fun!
The most important thing about HIIT sessions is that they are fun. In the past few years, we have seen the explosion of HIIT workouts on our sports media platforms in the guise of Crossfit Games or obstacle races. People love to compete and watch sports that use HIIT as a training method. As an athlete, it gives a stage to compete against someone or yourself.
Using HIIT in your training regime is like adding rocket fuel to a campfire. You will see an improvement in athletic skills and an improved ability to recover from the workouts. Improved recovery and skills mean you become a better athlete.
The hidden benefits of high-intensity interval training are numerous. On top of improved skills, you have processes in the body that work to fight off obesity and several heart-related illnesses like heart disease and myocardial infarction or heart attack.