Using HIIT Workouts to Improve Your Half Marathon Race Times
Over the course of years, the half marathon has become my sort of “sweet spot” race length. It’s a challenging distance that filters out those who do not train seriously, and yet it has a faster recovery time period than a full marathon. As with any distance race, training is key. I’m more on the “competitive amateur” level who competes for the joy of it and occasionally competes for age-group medals.
One thing I experiment with and refine is my training. I’m busy and over 45 so I look to maximize efficient training that helps me improve while reducing wear and tear on my body. A key for me is my non-running workouts. For these, I use High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts. These workouts focus on fast twitch muscle fibers. HIIT engages total body muscles, thus increasing performance and reducing injuries.
Now, you can upgrade to HIIT to reap these and many more benefits. Voted one of the top fitness trends for 2014 and 2018 in surveys conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT promises not just improved field performance but also multiple health benefits.
Wondering what the heck HIIT is? The following is everything you need to know about the workout.
What is HIIT?
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that combines intense intervals of movement with short periods of rest. Typically, you go through 20 to 60 seconds of demanding movements followed by 5 to 20 seconds of rest. The goal is a total-body workout that works key muscle groups throughout the body such as legs, core, shoulders, and arms while lowering injury risk through less repetition pounding and diversifying the muscle targets.
How it Works
Many HIIT workouts can be done anywhere, a gym membership is not needed! I do mine in my living room on a mat with 2 sets of free weights and my iPad playing a Youtube video from my favorite HIIT team at HASfit.
A HIIT workout maybe 15-45 minutes in length, broken down into a series of segments which you repeat. For example:
- Row + Batwing
- Reverse Lunge + Chop / Step Back
- Svend Press + Front Kick / Knee Raise
- Iso One Leg Hip Up + Fly / Two Legs
- Dumbbell Dead Bug / No DB’s
- Lateral Drop / Sumo Deadlifts
- Reverse Curl + Press + Negative Front Raise
- One Arm Snatch / High Pull
- Overhead Posterior Swing Jumps / No Jumps
- Close Grip Push Ups / from Knees
- Bear Plank Dumbbell Transfers / from Knees
- Bent Over Row + Triceps Kickback
- Dumbbell Squat + Curl + Knee Raise / No Knee
(From an actual HASfit HIIT workout)
Benefits of HIIT Workouts
Unsurprisingly, the exercise comes with a ton of benefits, especially if maintained for several weeks. In addition to the three interval training benefits discussed earlier, athletes;
- Experience improved cardiovascular performance
- Build lean mass and drop fat
- Retain muscle they already have
- Benefit from conditioned aerobic and anaerobic energy
- Burn more energy while at rest
- Enjoy improved metabolism
The best part is that HIIT is simple and doesn’t need special equipment. Wherever you find yourself, even at home, you can use HIIT workouts. Above all, there are varied workouts to try out, thus less chance of boredom.
A Few Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
Though highly recommendable, HIIT workouts also expose runners to several kinds of risks and injuries. To avoid any issues;
- Always warm up and cool down (for 5 minutes) before and after working out respectively.
- Always start slowly and build up steadily. Don’t push yourself.
- Never stop completely during rest intervals. Slow down, but don’t stop. Stopping dead can interfere with blood circulation and possibly cause lightheadedness.
Now, you’re ready to HIIT things up!
I use HIIT extensively as part of my half marathon training. I typically do a HIIT workout 5-6 times a week while running 2 times. I’ll have more on that unique training plan coming out in an ebook soon! The HIIT has helped me build lean muscle, increase my flexibility, strengthen core areas demanded in running, and helped me recover from runs and reduce the risk of injury. I highly recommend it.