You’ve had your head down in the gym for a few weeks, pushing hard and putting in the hours. Your body has started to adapt and you’re laying down some nice muscle whilst at the same dropping some body fat.
But whilst your progress has been good up to now you’ve noticed that the results have just started to slow down. You feel like you need a ‘pick me up’ and are wondering what you can do to ramp up the progress again.
In this article we’ll take a look at the research around pre workout ingredients and high-intensity interval training or HIIT.
Can a pre workout boost your interval training workout results? Read on to find out more…
What is HIIT Training?
High-intensity interval training is the collective name for any workout that has elements of short but intense periods of work, followed by low-intensity recovery periods.
The timings don’t have to be exact and can vary quite a bit. But previous research has suggested work intervals of between 30 seconds to several minutes, separated by rest intervals of 1-5 minutes .
The key word here is intensity. If you aren’t working at 90% of your maximum output or more, it’s not a HIIT session it’s just plain old interval cardio.
What are the Benefits of HIIT?
Over the last few years we’ve seen a big increase in the number of people undertaking HIIT training.
Because it provides you with a number of benefits in a short space of time – it’s one of the most time-efficient workouts you could wish for. Especially when you weigh it up against other forms of cardio such as low-intensity, steady state.
It’s demanding, but that’s exactly what you need as an advanced trainer that pushes themselves on a regular basis.
And just for you; here’s a breakdown of exactly why HIIT is one of the best tools in the fitness toolbox.
#1. It’s versatile
Not only is high-intensity interval training short and sharp, it’s versatile too.
You can do it on plain old cardio kit – treadmills, bikes and rowers are all safe and effective ways of hitting the intervals. You can also integrate it into resistance training sessions to get the added boost of some muscle growth too.
#2. It ramps up fitness levels
HIIT works your body hard. It pushes your cardio system to the limit by forcing blood to travel around the body quickly. It does this to make sure your body drops enough oxygen and nutrients to your muscles before they fatigue.
Over time you’ll find that your body adapts and begins to lay down new cells to help with this process.
You’ll develop a more dense capillary network to deliver blood. And your mitochondria – specialist parts of cells that allow oxygen to be used as energy – will multiply too. All in all you’ll become a fitness machine
#3. It boosts testosterone levels
Testosterone is a marker of everything from muscle size and strength to optimal body fat and fitness. It is an important hormone for both health and athleticism.
Long, moderate intensity cardio repeated for hours and hours has been found to lower testosterone levels. But HIIT can have some massive benefits to this performance-giving steroid hormone.
One study found that when cyclists participate in intense, explosive 30 minute sessions of single-leg HIIT jumps alternating with fast cycling, T levels rose by 97% .
#4. It’ll improve your body composition
The combination of all-out intensity mixed with the high demand for oxygen and blood means that HIIT is guaranteed to get your metabolic rate soaring.
Couple that with its ability to boost muscle growth and you’re on the road to a much better physique. High-intensity interval training is brilliant for what’s called body recomposition – building muscle but dropping fat at the same time.
HIIT and Pre Workout – What Does The Research Say?
HIIT workouts are one of the best ways to get in shape, build muscle and torch fat.
But how do you make them even more productive? Add a good quality pre workout into the mix, that’s how.
Here’s our top 3 pre workout ingredients that will give you the extra edge you need…
Because interval training is short, sharp and intense, any nutrient that boosts maximal output will improve your workout quality.
Caffeine has been shown in numerous clinical trials to improve HIIT training productivity.
Well, caffeine is a potent trigger for the part of the nervous system that speeds up the breakdown of stored energy into usable components – what’s called the sympathetic nervous system.
It boosts epinephrine levels in the blood which in turn breaks down stored glycogen and fatty acids to be used at high intensities. It improves the force-generating principles of your muscle fibers and inhibits adenosine receptors in the brain. This helps to boost alertness, reaction time and reduce fatigue.
One study for example found that ingesting a caffeine anhydrous based pre workout prior to 8 sets of 5-minute intervals improved repeated power output by 3.5% .
Doesn’t sound a lot?
Bare in mind that the control group’s power dropped by a massive 8% due to fatigue and you’ll begin to appreciate the value of this potent stimulants ability to help you work harder for longer.
This naturally occurring compound is one of the most abundantly researched supplement ingredients ever.
And what’s even better is that practically all of the research points to it being a potent and positive addition to any athlete’s locker.
This amino-acid made powerhouse will boost strength, power, endurance and turn the dial down on fatigue as well.
It also elevates the rate and use of adenosine phosphate too – the molecule we use to make energy in all cells – especially skeletal muscle .
Combining creatine with explosive training has been found to boost productivity in a number of studies.
One for example found that regular dosage of creatine over a 4-week period ramped up cardiorespiratory fitness by a whopping 16% .
3. L-Citrulline Malate
This non-protein amino acid is an organic compound that converts into L-arginine in your kidneys. It boosts nitric oxide levels in your blood which results in widening of your blood vessels – which is called vasodilation.
Why is this good for HIIT training?
Dilating blood vessels means more blood flow. And more blood flow means a much higher rate of oxygen, nutrients and hormones being delivered to your working muscles.
You’ll be able to work harder for longer as your whole cardio system ticks over more efficiently.
One study found that when a group of trained athletes were given asked to participate in a 3-week study consisting of 3-per week HIIT session, the use of a pre workout supplement boosted their results. The supplement contained citrulline, caffeine and creatine .
Here’as what it improved:
- Aerobic capacity went up by 10.4% compared to 2.9% in the placebo group
- Anaerobic capacity improved by 22.9% compared to 10.6%
- The supplement reduced time to exhaustion during maximal running
- Overall training volume was 11.6% higher in the supplement group
- Body fat went down by 2.3% in comparison to 1.2%
The authors of the study suggested that citrulline played an important role in reducing lactate levels in the muscles therefore enhancing training effort and volume.
Sample HIIT Workouts
We’ve used our collective knowledge and experience to pick the best high-intensity interval workouts just for you. Here are our favorites:
Body Weight Strength HIIT Workout
Circuit-style workout with a 2:1 ratio between work and active recovery. Complete 2 full rounds for a punchy 15-minute workout
|Close grip push-ups
Rower Sprint HIIT Workout
A speed-based interval session with a focus on maximal distance and force on each rep. The work to rest ratio is set at 1:3 to keep productivity high.
Aim to hit 500 meters in total.
|10 in total
Strength Training HIIT Workout
This workout forces blood around the body by integrating compound movements for different parts of body with minimal rest. Choose a weight that's around 50% of your body weight. Rest 120 seconds after each round and repeat 3 times.
Don't let the bar touch the floor until every exercise in the round is complete!
|Bent over row
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- Gibala MJ, McGee SL. Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain? Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2008; 36: 58–63
- Paton CD et al. Effects of low- vs. high-cadence interval training on cycling performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2009; 23(6): 1758-63
- Lane, SC et al. Caffeine ingestion and cycling power output in a low or normal muscle glycogen state. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2013; 45(8): 1577-1584
- Cooper, R et al. Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012; 9: 33
- Graef, JL et al. The effects of four weeks of creatine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on cardiorespiratory fitness: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Sports Nutr. 2009; 6: 18
- Smith, AE et al. The effects of a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, and amino acids during three weeks of high-intensity exercise on aerobic and anaerobic performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7: 10