HIIT for runners can be confusing to interpret. Some people combine running and HIIT by incorporating these high intensity workouts as cross training, while others incorporate interval training as part of their run.
However, one thing seems to be universal: HIIT workouts can be incredibly beneficial for runners.
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. This type of training involves workouts that alternate between high intensity and rest or low intensity activities.
Most workouts involve high intensity exercises that are performed in an anaerobic state – where the muscles do not use oxygen for fuel. This intensity is then followed by a very short period of rest or recovery exercises. The goal for most HIIT workouts is to complete these high intensity exercises at maximum effort with very little rest in between.
Are HIIT workouts good for runners?
Incorporating HIIT workouts for runners in your training plan can be incredibly beneficial in many ways. These types of workouts, whether completed as a run or cross training, have been shown to improve running performance and much more.
One study from the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that high intensity interval training can help improve VO2 Max in adults. A higher VO2 max can lead to greater efficiency, faster paces and improved endurance on the run.
Benefits of HIIT for Runners
There are so many benefits of HIIT workouts for runners. Adding a short workout or single session of high intensity intervals once a week is usually all it takes to help improve your fitness. Here are some incredible benefits of HIIT for runners.
- Helps build muscle
- Strengthens the entire body
- Boosts endurance and resistance to fatigue
- Helps increase mental strength
- Can help improve metabolism
- Prevents injury and burnout
- Takes minimal time
HIIT workouts that involve bodyweight are a great way to enhance your training without adding mileage and increasing the risk of injury. In fact, supplementing with HIIT workouts for runners can actually help prevent injury by strengthening the entire body and helping to avoid overtraining.
How to Combine HIIT Workouts with Running
HIIT for runners means different things in different training plans. Some runners prefer to incorporate HIIT during their runs by adding intervals, sprints or fartleks. Others prefer to use HIIT in their cross training by completing various forms of bodyweight workouts.
However, regardless of how you choose to combine HIIT and running, the structure of a successful HIIT workout remains the same.
HIIT Workout Breakdown
- Warm up (easy effort)
- High intensity interval at maximum effort (45 – 60 seconds)
- Low intensity recovery or rest (15 – 45 seconds)
- Repeat steps 2 & 3
- Cool down (easy effort)
Following this basic structure for a HIIT workout will ensure that your exercise is purposeful, effective and incredibly efficient. HIIT workouts are a great way to improve your fitness in a short amount of time.
6 Tips for HIIT for Runners
- Maintain max intensity for each interval
- Take the recoveries seriously
- Stay consistent
- Work to decrease recovery time and increase high intensity time
- Be intentional with your time
- Vary the types of HIIT workouts
HIIT Workout Ideas for Runners
- Hill sprints
- Fartlek runs
- Interval runs
- Bodyweight workouts
- Treadmill workouts
- Plyometric workouts
- Tabata workouts
In order to reap the benefits of regular HIIT workouts, it’s important to include variety, stay consistent, and give it your all during each period of high intensity. Rotating through a variety of different HIIT workouts throughout your training season is a great way to prevent injury, overtraining and burnout – all while improving strength and endurance.
10 Beneficial HIIT Workouts for Runners
These HIIT workouts are an excellent addition to any running training plan. Rotate through them during training to strengthen your entire body and boost both mental and physical endurance.
HIIT Workout for Runners #1: Fartleks
For those hoping to maintain high mileage or avoid too many cross training days, fartlek runs are an excellent way to combine HIIT with running. Simply run at maximum effort during each fartlek interval, and recover at an easy effort in between.
HIIT Workout for Runners #2: Hill Sprints
Hill sprints are another great way to combine running and HIIT. Give it your maximum effort as you sprint up the hill, and enjoy an easy, relaxed pace on the way down. Sprinting uphill utilizes different muscles than running on flat ground, making it a great way to prevent muscle imbalances and injuries from occurring during training.
HIIT Workout for Runners #3: Running Intervals
This 1 minute running interval workout is another great way to incorporate HIIT in your training plan. The shorter the interval, the more effort you can give and faster pace you can aim for during your run. Try these 1 minute intervals and aim to decrease recovery time as your fitness improves.
HIIT Workout for Runners #4: Treadmill Workout
The treadmill is a great place to incorporate HIIT for runners. Simply increase the pace on the treadmill during the high intensity intervals, and decrease the pace or hop off during the recovery or rest periods.
HIIT Workout for Runners #5: Tabata Core Workout
Tabata workouts are designed in a HIIT style. Each workout consists of 20 seconds at max intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for four minutes. These workouts are usually relatively short in total, but incredibly effective. Target your core on your cross training days to stay strong and injury free in your running.
HIIT Workout for Runners #6: Tabata Lower Body Workout
Another tabata-style HIIT workout that is incredibly beneficial for runners is this lower body workout. It follows the tabata structure and serves as great strength training for those lower body muscles you’ll use when running.
HIIT Workout for Runners #7: Full Body Bodyweight Workout
Bodyweight workouts are the ultimate when it comes to HIIT. These workouts contain exercises that target all the major regions of the body and are a great way to supplement any running training plan. This bodyweight workout is relatively short, but provides maximum benefits.
HIIT Workout for Runners #8: Plyometric Workout
Another type of HIIT that is beneficial for runners are plyometrics. These exercises require short, fast bursts of movement and are a great way to strengthen running-specific muscles. Try this workout to improve power on the run.
HIIT Workout for Runners #9: Cross Training Challenge
With a simple structure, this cross training challenge is designed specifically for runners to improve their strength and prevent injuries. These exercises are designed to be completed at maximum effort for the designated time, followed by a short period of rest.
HIIT Workout for Runners #10: Running Strides
Strides are a simple, yet effective way to incorporate HIIT in your running. These strides involve running at maximum effort for very short bursts to help improve power, form and prevent injuries.