The Undeniable, Amazing, Performance Boosting Benefits Of HIIT
Bicycling South Africa|November/December 2019
The Undeniable, Amazing, Performance Boosting Benefits Of HIIT
Interval training, especially high- intensity interval training (HIIT), has been an annual ‘hot training trend’ for 15 years now, and shows no sign of falling out of favour.

HIIT’s hot streak started in 2005, when in a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, exercise scientist Martin Gibala, PhD, reported that two weeks of regular sprint interval training didn’t just make riders better sprinters; it also improved their endurance, by doubling time to fatigue.

Since then, dozens more studies have solidified interval training as the fastest way to improve nearly all aspects of performance. Yet to this day, when riders come tome for training advice, and I ask if they do intervals, I inevitably get the same answer: “No, not really.”

But here’s the thing: everyone who wants to feel better on the bike (and in life) should do intervals. Here’s why:


How good your endurance is ultimately comes down to your mitochondrial capacity and function. Mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouses, where fuel is converted into energy. The more mitochondria you have, and the greater their capacity to burn sugars and fats as fuel, the better your endurance.

It’s well known that longer, lower intensity, ‘Zone 2’ rides increase the number of mitochondria in cells, says exercise physiologist Paul Laursen, PhD, a research contributor to hiitscience. com. “But high-intensity training makes those mitochondria more powerful,” he says.

Some studies show high-intensity exercise that’s performed regularly can also stimulate the production of new mitochondria.


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November/December 2019