• Mark Turnbull

Different types of HIIT training

If you’re new to high intensity interval training (HIIT), it may appear to be a bit daunting at first glance. Which strategy do you apply to your training programming, and what outcome should you expect.


Figure 1. Once context is determined, use this flow chart to consider your HIIT target based on the desired level of oxidative, anaerobic or neuromuscular response. From these targets, select your HIIT weapon accordingly.

Initially it is important to be clear on objectives before content. Once the context is clear, take the 3 key physiological targets you want to be developed (aerobic, anaerobic, neuromuscular), and determine how each system would be maximized if you were to individually target the response. Then, select the strategy to achieve your targets.


The key reason we need to target type first, relates to the fact that these different physiological systems, get taxed to different degrees, depending on how any training session is performed.


For example if we were to isolate only the neuromuscular/ musculoskeletal system. The athlete is receiving a stressful hit on their neuromuscular/ musculoskeletal system repeatedly session after session. As per Figure 1, these would all be HIIT Types #2, 4, 5, & 6. As athletes we need substantial periods of recovery (often days) between such sessions to allow the neuromuscular/ musculoskeletal system to adapt appropriately (think how long it takes for muscle soreness to go away).

The other systems (aerobic/anaerobic) also need development, can we continue to train them whilst still recovering our neuromuscular system? Yes there is (Figure 1).

You can continue to develop these other important systems through the insertion of the appropriate HIIT training weapons that target Type #1 and #3 responses (see examples).

Such target types come from HIIT with a low involvement of neuromuscular/ musculoskeletal strain.


The anaerobic system needs its recovery periods as well. So the athlete should adjust your programming accordingly. Lower stressing Type #1 sessions can be included to facilitate recovery and aerobic development as needed.


Understanding the key physiological responses of different HIIT sessions enables you to place the right session, in the right place, at the right time, in order to maximize the development of the physiological capacities you require.



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