In this video lecture, I explore why long-duration, low-intensity cardio is so crucial for a mountaineers fitness (and why focusing purely on high-intensity training is a mistake).
It is my firm opinion that while training for hiking, you should separate your strength training, high-intensity interval training and your conditioning training.
Because trying to train all of them at once (as is the case in many HIIT based training sessions) is not an effective, long term strategy.
Let me tell you why:
Circuit based HIIT training is SUPER popular right now.
Whether it is Crossfit, F45, boot camps or a million and one other variations., you cannot walk down the street for 5 minutes without seeing another HIIT studio.
And I see the appeal. This type of training is fast. It is fun. You can get competitive. And you walk out feeling like you have really done some work!
On top of this, they are often advertised to help just about every aspect of fitness: cardio, strength, power, body composition etc.
So why wouldn't you do it?
But there is a catch to this...
Circuit based HIIT training is not an incredibly effective way for hikers, trekkers or mountaineers to improve their strength and fitness over the long term.
To help you understand this, the toothpaste theory is a great way to illustrate this concept.
The circuit- based approach can be likened to squeezing toothpaste only from the middle of the tube.
Initially, this approach works fine, and plenty of toothpaste (i.e. fitness, strength etc.) comes out.
But as time goes by (and you get fitter, stronger etc.) this approach gets less and less effective. You need to work REALLY hard just to get tiny bits of toothpaste...
And eventually, no matter how hard you work, you can't get any toothpaste out at all.
Alternatively, squeezing strongly and consistently on just one side of the toothpaste, and before the other, allows a much more efficient means of getting toothpaste on our brush.
This is the same as targeted training (i.e. separating your training into specific strength, HIIT and lower intensity conditioning sessions)
So what does this mean for you?
If you love your HIIT classes, whether it is Crossfit, F45, Orange theory, Bootcamp or whatever, that is fine.
If you enjoy it, then enjoy it!
But know there will come the point where the toothpaste will stop coming out.
But if you see the light, and you want to ensure continued and effective progress over the long term, I highly recommend considering a targeted and structured training approach for the outset.
And you can find that here:
Yours in trekking,
High intensity training seems like an amazing shortcut for many mountaineers. If you can get the same results, with much less time commitment, why wouldn't you go down the high intensity route?
Unfortunately, it isn't quite as simple as many of the high intensity advocates make it out to be. This article will explore the flaws in that thinking:
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help trekkers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful bucket list adventure.