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The Science of HIIT in water / aqua - swimsanity

Posted by Theo on January 6, 2015 at 5:30 PM


The science of HIIT in the water…or in other words SWIMSANITY


First of all, let’s have a look at the science and the research behind HIIT...

HIIT is an advanced workout alternating intense high energy exercise with short and less intense recovery periods and it is not a new idea. There's evidence that Olympic distance runner Kolehmainen was using interval training in his workouts and then the famous Sebastian Coe with his father-coach were using some kind of HIIT training. A large amount of research has been done until then, with sports scientists demonstrate that HIIT can:

• enhance the performance of competitive athletes

• Improve the overall health of amateur athletes

• Produce the same, and sometimes an advanced, number of physiological benefits as the endurance aerobic training, with fewer workouts.

The typical, but sometimes less interesting, way to improve cardiovascular fitness is to increase the volume of exercise—longer swimming sets for example. HIIT, on the other hand, is really attractive because, according to current research, it can produce a noteworthy amount of physiological benefits, often in less time than continuous aerobic exercise (Daussin et al. 2008 ).

In a comparison between HIIT and Long Endurance training we can point out some key differences on:

Cardiovascular parameters and effects...

Recent research demonstrates that HIIT can provide similar, and in some cases more, cardiovascular benefits than the traditional endurance training (Helgerud et al. 2007; Wisløff, Ellingsen & Kemi 2009). Take into consideration that HIIT workout is shorter and needs fewer sessions.

Skeletal-Muscle parameters and effects…

For many years, coaches and scientists thought that the increase in size and number of mitochondria appears only because of continuous endurance training, but recent studies, such as the one from Gibala 2009, showed that HIIT can also create this important adaptation.

Metabolic parameters and effects…

Because of the nature of high-intensity exercise, the effect that has on fat burning (or the metabolism of fat for fuel during exercise) has been a major point of interest. Perry et al. (2008showed that fat burning was significantly higher and carbohydrate oxidations significantly lower after 6 weeks of High Intensity Interval Training.

Another key metabolic benefit of HIIT is EPOC (excess postexercise oxygen consumption). After a HIIT session, oxygen consumption remains at high levels as the working muscle cells are trying to restore the body to its pre-exercise state. This means higher and longer calorie burning hours after workout has stopped.


Final Verdict:

We can’t say that HIIT is the ultimate and the only way forward for improving our performance, but on the other hand continuous aerobic training is an “old fashioned” way and it definitely not going to improve the cardio, metabolic and skeletal-muscle factors of your performance all by itself, as we thought for many years...combining the traditional endurance training with HIIT in your weekly workout is the ideal. HIIT is the extra tool to help you achieve your goal in a time-efficient way. We must remember that research shows that 3-4 HIIT workouts per week leads to outstanding improvements in the performance and the health of an athlete...

Now think about performing HIIT in the water...where there’s more resistance but less impact...where balance is essential and sweat is an “unknown” word...and where strength and flexibility go hand in hand...then you have the perfect combination and the ideal workout...

...and we call it SWIMSANITY!!


By theo chatziolos

Categories: Aqua aerobic benefits, Benefits of Aquacise, weight loss & fitness

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