5 Reasons Interval Training Can Boost a HIIT-er's Swing Speed

Interval training and what it means to increasing a hitter's bat speed is a crucial component to a competitive baseball player's workout regime. The benefits include:

  • Hitting better under immense game pressure, whether emotionally or physically run down,
  • Adding lean muscle and dropping body fat percentage creates a body better suited to be explosive when the wood OR aluminum meets the cowhide,
  • Working out with more "intensity," focusing on a higher percentage of your maximum heart rate, takes less time than with regular boring low intensity training.

Who has more body fat percentage: Sprinters OR Marathoners?

Let's take a look...

Studies show just 20 minutes a week of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) above a person's VO2 Max (max heart rate), generally above 85%, is better than 5 hours per week of aerobic exercise in a 65-75% VO2 max.

Here's a study from one of my favorite athletic performance training sites Charles Poliquin.com:

"Tabata et al. (1) compared a 70% of VO2 max moderate intensity group (MIG) vs. a high intensity interval group (HIIT). The MIG group did increase their VO2 max by about 10% without a concurrent improvement in anaerobic capacity. The HIIT group improved their VO2 max by 14% and their anaerobic capacity by 28%. The HIIT group actually improved both anaerobic and aerobic capacity at the same time!"

So with interval training, you not only increase your aerobic capacity (long distance running, cycling, swimming, etc.) but also your anaerobic capacity as well...explained below,

Aerobic is "with" oxygen, and anaerobic is "without." During continuous aerobic activity over longer periods of time (above 30 minutes), your body uses oxygen as its main source of energy for muscle cells.

During anaerobic (i.e. sprints, weight and interval training) or short burst movements, your body uses two muscle fuel sources:

  1. Creatine (which most know about), AND
  2. ATP.

Most people can't hold an all-out sprint for more than 10 seconds because the two preceding energy stores get depleted quickly, and take 3-5 minutes to re-charge.

How does interval training boost a hitter's bat speed?

  • Just once or twice a week (20 minutes total) can lower a hitter's resting heart rate, so the body can perform more relaxed and "loose" under game stress.
  • The Cardiovascular System recovers faster when the body has been put through high intensity training (i.e. running bases, legging out ground balls, etc.).
  • Lowers body fat percentage and increases lean muscle mass, making the hitter's legs and core stronger, not to mention more athletic, to hit the ball farther.
  • Increases fast twitch muscle fibers, so the batter can be more explosive at the point of contact. AND best of all,
  • The hitter reaps BIG benefits with a shorter higher intensity workout program in less time!

In other words, the all magic words of Swing Smarter, less is more!

Not to mention, all the chicks will dig your NEW improved bod! Also, quick note: adding 5 pounds of muscle to your frame will burn an extra 150-250 calories daily. And even MORE calories burned after interval training because of...

EPOC. Excess Post Oxygen Consumption, another benefit to High Intensity Interval Training, or (HIIT), is it increases a person's caloric expenditure 24-48 hours after the workout, whereas when you stop low intensity running on the treadmill, you stop burning calories.

Okay, how do you calculate your VO2 max heart rate numbers for low & high intensity (HITT) training?

With the Karvonen formula of course! Like you didn't know ;)

To get your Resting Heart Rate (RHR), take your pulse for a minute first thing when you wake up in the morning, before you turn on the television OR before your feet hit the ground. The number of heart beats in that minute is your RHR. To get a little more accurate, then take a 3-day average.

Aerobic Capacity (Low Intensity)
206.9 MINUS (0.67 MULTIPLY the player's age) = number A
Take number A MINUS the resting heart rate = number B
Take number B MULTIPLY by 65% (.65 = low target heart zone) = number C
Take number C ADD the player's target heart rate = low target heart rate beats per minute

For the 75% of VO2 max target heart rate beats per minute,

Take number B MULTIPLY by 75% = number D
Take number D ADD the player's target heart rate = high target heart rate beats per minute

Example (I'm currently 29 years old with a resting heart rate of 55):

206.9 - (0.67 X 29) = 187.47
187.47 - 55 = 132.47
132.47 X .65(or 65%) = 86
86 + 55 = 141 (low end target heart rate)

132.47 (number B) X .75 (or 75%) = 99
99 + 55 = 154 (high end target heart rate)

For High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
206.9 MINUS (0.67 MULTIPLY the player's age) = number A
Take number A MINUS the resting heart rate = number B
Take number B MULTIPLY by 85+% (.85 = HIIT target heart zone) = number C
Take number C ADD the player's target heart rate = HIIT target heart rate beats per minute.

Now that you have your low intensity & HIIT numbers, you'll need a workout plan, so check out the Charles Poliquin link above and follow one of the three plans as needed. Also, remember to consult with a Doctor before starting this type of high intensity training.

The bottom line?

Hitters benefit greatly from HIIT training mainly with faster Cardiovascular recovery, being able to better manage game stresses, and stay cool as a cucumber in pressure situations. Be the first on your team to increase your bat speed with the power of interval training.

And remember, relaxed "loose" muscles are more explosive muscles.

What's more...

To revisit our original question...Who has less body fat percentage: Sprinters OR Marathoners? Sprinters do because as your body works out aerobically past an 8 week period, it actually adjusts to the easier work load being placed on it, and starts adding body fat. The fastest way to lower body fat percentage and explosion is SPRINTING!

Also, like with anything else, don't overdo HIIT training. A little bit goes a long way, so less is more...give your body at least a day break between sessions.

Swing Smarter!

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