Cardio workouts and athletes sometimes don't mix. The thought of a slow-paced workout on a stationary bike or treadmill might sound boring or even dreadful. You'd much rather sprint on the track or throw some weight around in the weight room.
However building aerobic endurance is critical. It provides an important base of conditioning you need for workouts and sports and allows you to recover faster between sets and plays.
For those of you who fall into this category, a type of conditioning called called High-Intensity Continuous Training might be your solution.
What is High-Intensity Continuous Training?
High-Intensity Continuous Training (HICT) is simple, yet deceivingly brutal. It can be done with any explosive exercise that can be performed for just one rep, such as a Squat Jump, Bodyweight Squat, Reverse Lunge, Pull-Ups or even Push-Ups. In short, you perform a single rep every 5-8 seconds to elevate your heart to just below 150 beats per minute.
Repeat this pattern for 3-8 minutes to complete a set. Rest for 3-6 minutes for just about complete recovery and repeat for two more sets.
Men's Health has a great article that provides a few workout options here
How High-Intensity Continuous Training Improves Performance
HICT is very beneficial for athletes because it allows for speed and power development to take place aerobic manner. Typically, both speed and power are not able to be performed in this manner as force produced lessens over time. For example, Cleans should only be performed for limited amounts of sets and repetitions.
Because of the way that HICT is performed, it is possible to train for both power and endurance. The phosphocreatine system, which powers explosive movements, depletes in 5-10 seconds yet it never fully depletes in HICT workouts because you only do one rep followed by recovery. This allows you to improve your explosiveness because you won't be fatigued, but challenge your aerobic energy system simply because of the overall time you are working.
Simply put, HICT allows for both power and endurance benefits as it blends both training types.
How to Add High-Intensity Continuous Training to Your Workout Program
For athletes, this mode is great for spurts during the postseason and early offseason. Because lighter to moderate weight is being pushed, this can be used to enhance recovery while allowing athletes to push hard in the weight room while in a postseason run.
In the offseason, HICT allows athletes to help build an aerobic base while recovering from the fatigue of a long season. Moreover, for a general population this is a great way to help promote weight loss as it is an aerobic method of working out while also performing intervals.
If there is one thing to know about HICT before doing a protocol, it is that focusing on it for an extended period of time (beyond two to three weeks for three or more days per week) can wear down the central nervous system (CNS). While these workouts may not feel like the most challenging because the heart rate should not be elevated above 150, the toll they take on the CNS in the long haul will be felt. If this is used as recovery for about two weeks and up to three days per week, then CNS fatigue should not occur.
Whether or not the plan is to use HICT for short term or long term, the benefits of increased power, endurance, and recovery will show. Give this protocol a try, and see how it feels as it is a good changeup from most typical programs.
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