The Value of HIIT Workouts for Triathletes

Apr 23, 2024
HIIT Workouts

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

One thing all of us struggle with as triathletes is having enough time. Time to swim, time to bike, time to run, time to strength train, time to stretch…if there’s anything we wish we could have more of, it’s time. That’s where the value of HIIT workouts come in. Doing them can save you a ton of space in your schedule without compromising the effectiveness of your training.

What Is a HIIT Workout?

‘HIIT’ stands for High Intensity Interval Training. There are no standard definitions for what a HIIT workout consists of, but there are certain characteristics that make HIIT workouts different from other types of training. Some of these include:

  • Interval Based: A person will alternate between work and rest; 10 seconds to multiple minutes of work, followed by rest or light activity, then repeat.
  • High Intensity: The workout will be done at maximal or near-maximal intensity for the working periods, and complete rest or light activity during the off periods.
  • Short Duration: One of the biggest draws of HIIT workouts is that they’re usually performed in 30 minutes or less.
  • Exercise Variety: HIIT workouts are incredibly adaptable and as such often include a variety of movements that target multiple parts of the body.
  • Minimal Equipment: HIIT workouts at home are very popular as this style of training doesn’t require you to have a lot of equipment.

With these things in mind, let’s look at some of the benefits of HIIT workouts for triathletes. The goal here is to get your wheels turning on how you might start incorporating these sessions into your schedule!

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

Benefits of HIIT Workouts for Triathletes

If you’re a triathlete looking to add some strength and conditioning work on top of your regular swimming, cycling and running, then HIIT workouts might be just the option you’ve been looking for. HIIT workouts will build your anaerobic base, improve your VO2 max, keep you lean, and develop your mental resilience; it’s all available to you with this style of training.

During a triathlon, you’re likely to go through varying bouts of intensity as the race goes on. You’ll hit a steep climb, make a big push to pass a competitor, or perhaps sprint to the finish in hopes of a podium placement. Threaded throughout these intense periods are maintenance phases where you’ll have to maintain a steady tempo as you get more and more tired.

HIIT workouts prepare you, both mentally and physically, to deal with this kind of competitive fluctuation. Do they make you fit? Absolutely. But more than that, they teach you to deal with stress—they teach you to stay composed and learn the limits of your body. And all of this while being time efficient and easy to fit into any schedule.

Sample HIIT Workout

Let’s show you just how easy this can be! All you have to do is pick 4-5 exercises that require little to no equipment (the below workout requires zero equipment). Then, you’re going to follow this simple HIIT workout structure:

  • Perform each exercise for 30 seconds in the order that their listed
  • Rest only 15 seconds in between each exercise
  • After you’ve completed all exercises once, rest for 1-2 minutes
  • That is 1 round complete
  • Repeat this cycle 2-3 more times for a total of 3-4 rounds

By doing this, you are going to give yourself a killer workout in less than 20 minutes. If you’ve never done a training session like this before…get ready to feel it!

1. Wide to Narrow Squat Jumps

  • Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Drop into a squat
  • Explosively jump upward
  • Land softly back into a narrow squat position and immediately jump again.
  • Land back in the wide position 
  • Repeat the sequence, alternating between wide squat jumps and narrow squat jumps

2. Staggered Push-Ups

  • Begin in a plank position on your toes or on your knees (whatever accommodates your current strength level) with hands shoulder-width apart and staggered; one higher than the other
  • Lower chest towards the ground while keeping the core engaged and spine neutral
  • Push back up to the starting position, fully extending the arms
  • Switch the stagger of your hands
  • Perform another pushup
  • Alternate back and forth

3. Mountain Climbers

  • Start in a plank position with wrists positioned under your shoulders
  • Alternate bringing your knees towards the chest in a running motion while keeping the hips low and core engaged
  • Move quickly but while maintaining some sense of control, should have a steady pace throughout

4. Burpees

  • Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Drop into a squat position, place your hands on the ground in front of you
  • Jump feet back into a plank position, then back to the squat position
  • Explode upward into a jump, reaching arms overhead
  • Land softly and immediately repeat the sequence

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Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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