High Intensity Interval Training for Mixed Martial Arts

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) consists of alternating periods of high intensity exercises with recovery periods in which no exercises or low intense exercises are performed.

HIIT became popular years ago because of the results of the Tabata study. Tabata study compared both low intensity cardio training with high intensity interval training. The study concluded that “moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems“. This conclusion showed that HIIT was more effective than typical low intensity cardio training for both aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Because of its capacity to train both aerobic and anaerobic systems in just one short, intense workout, High Intensity Interval Training has become very popular between professional athletes and Hollywood actors, as the latest method to achieve a great fitness level and a lean and strong body in less time.

The science behind HIIT

HIIT is so effective because it produces a high metabolic impact on your body, as shown in the Tabata study. This metabolic impact produces high levels of testosterone and growth hormone, increasing strength and promoting muscle growth.

There are three types of metabolic responses depending on which energy system your body is using when exercising:

Phosphocreatine Pathway: energy is taken from phosphocreatine, which is the fastest available source of energy for your muscles. It allows you to perform high intensity exercises that last no more than 20 seconds. Sprints or Olympic weightlifting are some examples.

Glycolytic Pathway (lactic acid and anaerobic glycolysis): energy is taken from glycogen in this stage. This is also a fast energy source, which will allow you to perform high intensity efforts lasting as much as 2 or 3 minutes. A set of 10 reps of a major lift like squat or deadlift would use this energy path. A boxing round would be another example.

Oxidative Pathway: oxygen is used to produce energy at this stage. It is the most efficient source of energy, but the less powerful. Treadmill, running for more than 800 m, or cycling are some examples.

In just one workout HIIT will allow you to target all these three metabolic pathways. Different studies have shown that High Intensity Interval Training is the most effective way of burning fat and building muscle.

Most effective HIIT workouts

Depending on your goals, you should adjust this type of training to suit your needs (you can focus on build strength, cardio, muscle resistance or a mix of them). HIIT workouts can be performed with barbells, dumbbells, bodyweight exercises and kettlebells. Observe this example:

Resistance Workout

1 minute skipping rope

1 minute kettlebell (16 kg) swings

1 minute 1 hand kettlebell (16 kg) snatch

1 minute 1 hand kettlebell (16 kg) snatch (perform with other hand)

1 minute deadlift (50% 1RM)

1 minute push ups

1 minute jumping lunges

1 minute upright row (50% 1RM)

1 minute mountain climber

1 minute back squat (50% 1RM)

*Rest no more than 30 secs between exercises

*Perform this circuit two times

Keep in mind that your workout should last between 20 and 30 minutes depending on your physical conditioning. If you never trained this way before, take longer rests between sets or attempt to do just one round.

Benefits for Mixed Martial Arts

Martial artists and fighters will benefit from this training method in several ways:

  • They can focus on specific workouts to target cardio resistance, strength, muscle resistance or a mix of them.
  • When correctly performed 20 minutes of HIIT produce a stress and conditioning demand similar to 4 rounds of 5 minutes of a fight.
  • HIIT produces hormonal changes (increases in testosterone and growth hormone) which are beneficial for martial artists and fighters, allowing them to reduce body fat percentage, build muscle, improve heart pumping and achieve total conditioning.

Source by David A. Garcia