Contributed By Certified Personal Trainer: Blake Wardwell
With so many different training styles and workout programs available today, how do you know which one will best prepare you for your next OCR? Should you be out running more miles? Should you be lifting as heavy as you can? Should you be practicing on all of the obstacles? Should you be training for multiple hours each day? Wonder no more! I am here to guide you to a starting point, and tell you why out of all of your options, HIIT training is the most efficient training method for OCR.
HIIT: AN INTRO
HIIT, (or high-intensity interval training), is a training technique where you combine bursts of all-out effort followed by brief periods of recovery or active rest. This specific type of workout keeps your heart rate up causing you to burn max calories in a short amount of time which allows you to spend less time exercising, but reap benefits similar to what you would achieve during a longer steady state workout. Aside from calorie burn, there are many more benefits to using this type of training specifically for OCR.
Although there is a time and place for all of the different styles of training, and all can be very beneficial to OCR, HIIT is simply a more efficient way to incorporate all of your training into a shorter amount of time and can be done from anywhere. Utilizing HIIT has been a game changer for my training program as well as my race performance, and it can be for you too!
BENEFITS OF HIIT FOR OCR: BROKEN DOWN
1. It Is Strength And Cardio All In One
HIIT training incorporates 30-60 seconds of intense work followed by 20-30 seconds of rest/active recovery. This means you can combine your cardio exercises with your strength exercises for an all-out total body workout. You will be performing at your max potential for all 30-60 second work periods causing your heart rate to remain elevated for the duration of your workout, allowing you to check off your cardio and strength in one single session!
2. It Is Functional AND Efficient
HIIT training incorporates total body exercises, allowing you to train more body parts efficiently in one workout. For example, you may combine your squat and shoulder press into one movement to exhaust your entire body in just a single exercise, also replicating what your body will be going through while performing the obstacle portions of your race. During your HIIT workouts you will focus on combining exercises to get the most bang for your buck and since you are working so many muscle groups so efficiently, you can limit your strict “lifting” days to a couple of times per week to focus on those larger muscle groups.
3. It Gets You Comfortable Working At An Elevated Heart Rate
HIIT training is designed to force you to exert all-out energy for a period of time followed by a short rest period, repeated for 20-30 minutes, which is going to force you to have to move from exercise to exercise with your heart rate above its resting rate. Ultimately this is going to help you get comfortable lifting and holding onto weights at an elevated heart rate, simulating moving from a run/hike portion of a race right into an obstacle. Prior to being introduced to this type of training, I noticed I would add minutes to my race pace because I wasn't comfortable or confident starting an exercise while my heart rate was still elevated. I would come up to an obstacle, wait until my heart rate was back down to resting, then begin. Now I am comfortable performing in an elevated heart rate zone and can confidently approach an obstacle, take a few deep breaths, get in the zone, and take off: which I 100% credit to my HIIT training.
4. HIIT Workouts Can Be Done ANYWHERE
One of the best parts of this style of training is that it can be done anywhere using any kind of equipment, or even with bodyweight alone. As long as you have a timer you are good to go! HIIT can be any combination of exercises as long as it is increasing your heart rate followed by a short period of rest. For example, the workout below could be done at your local playground or park!
HIIT training is an efficient and versatile way of training that can be extremely beneficial for the OCR athlete, especially if you are somebody who finds it hard to find hours and hours each week to get your workouts in. HIIT training can also grow right along with you as an athlete: HIIT workouts can be just as helpful for the OCR newbie or veteran alike! Throw in some obstacle-like exercises (e.g., bucket carries, sandbag exercises, farmers carries) followed by some sort of cardio exercises, and you will be ready in no time!
Stay tuned for other tips on how to prepare for your next OCR - including grip strength and incline work - these will be covered in future articles!