When coaching/training clients, whether in an indoor group cycling format or any format which requires high intensity interval training (i.e., HIIT), it is important to understand that you are sprinting until the end of the exertion interval. Which is why as coaches we cue, “all out, all in, all day” or “sucking wind”, “going completely breathless” during this type of training. We really mean it!
Often, I refer to the yellow tape at the finish line. Do the athletes bump into the tape or do they blow through it? It is quite common that elite athletes win an event by one, one-hundredth of a second, consequently, that final thrust of power at the end of a sprint is essential to complete the all-out interval.
Therefore, this week, a few strategies will be highlighted to keep you on track during your HIIT/exertion (i.e., sprinting) and the recovery component of HIIT. Keep these in mind during your next HIIT session and soar to unbelievable performances! As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
• Avoid over-anticipating the end of the exertion interval. Whether you realize it or not, if your mind begins to perceive the end is near, instead of pushing you out of your comfort zone, your body may very subtly begin to back off. And rather than blowing through the yellow finish line tape, you bump into it! Therefore, completely focus upon blasting through the finish line tape—it is not done until it is done!
• You only have approximately 30 seconds worth of energy stored at the muscle site. Therefore, if the exertion interval is 30 seconds, then you should strive to explode all out for that 30 seconds. If you consistently deplete your energy before the end of the interval, then pace the effort in the first 10 seconds, building your power, leaving rhythm behind and then attempt the all-out exertion for the remaining 20 seconds. The goal, however, should be to exert all out in future sessions for the 30 second interval. Therefore, keep training toward that end.
• Fully recover. Upon completion of the exertion interval, if you have not fully recovered, you may be unable to fully exert. The fitter we become the quicker we recover. Consequently, training consistently and intensely enough is crucial if you intend to conquer the 30 second all out exertion sprint.
• If you are performing multiple sprint intervals, and you are having difficulty recovering adequately during the recovery interval, perhaps choose to perform exertion intervals 1, 3 and 5 out of a five HIIT series. This will provide you with additional time to recover so that you are able to fully exert on the selected intervals—think quality over quantity in this case.
• Visualize the profile that your coach/trainer describes during pre-class or pre-session instructions and keep that in mind throughout the training session. This applies to indoor group cycling as well as many different HIIT formats. You have two primary goals—to successfully complete the entire training session and to perform optimally throughout the session. Therefore, visualization is incredibly important. To clearly see the terrain, where applicable, see yourself performing and considering how you would look and feel throughout this journey may be the key that unlocks a level of outcomes that seemed impossible in the past.