What is HIT training?

HIT stands for High-Intensity Training, which is not to be confused with ‘HIIT’, which is an acronym for ‘High-Intensity Interval Training’. People often confuse CrossFit with HIIT because essentially both involve performing different types of exercises at a high intensity within one workout. ‘HIIT’ is a specific training regimen which sees a 30-minute workout performed in specific work/rest intervals, whereas you will typically see HIT performed within a CrossFit training session. It focuses on effectiveness and efficiency. The CrossFit prescription is ‘constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement’, so you can see how it fits into your regular CrossFit programme.


Why do we do it?

HIT can make you stronger and increase your metabolism. By working for short periods of time at a high intensity, it works by stressing your metabolic pathways and muscle tissues as they are working at near to their maximum level. During the days after your workout, while you recover, the body improves its metabolic efficiency and grows more muscle tissue in response to HIT.


Who needs to do it?

Anyone and everyone. Intensity can be achieved on all levels and the beauty of how we programme CrossFit sessions is that we can scale all movements and workouts so that the intended intensity can be achieved by anyone. CrossFit is infinitely scalable. The founder of CrossFit once said that “loads and intensity can be modified or scaled, so the same programme can improve fitness with Olympians, grandparents and everyone in between.”


Where does it fit into our weekly workout week?

HIT would be most effective by putting it at the end of your training session and ideally with a day of rest or lower intensity training afterwards.


How many times should we be doing it?

In order to be most effective for achieving general fitness, HIT workouts should be done with around 24-48 hours for full recovery in between. It is important to remember that rest is part of training here. In order to allow our muscles to rebuild, we need to rest and recover. This does not mean that we need to stop training completely and do nothing in between, a lower intensity day after a HIT session would work just as well. We need to make sure that we execute competency and training in all 3 pathways or ‘metabolic engines’ as we know them in CrossFit. These are phosphagen (highest power output shortest time domain, think 100m sprint); glycolytic or lactate (moderate power lasting for several minutes, think 400m to 800m runs) and finally oxidative or aerobic (lower powered activities lasting in excess of several minutes, think 10km runs to marathons). If we constantly sprinted 100m without any other form of training, we would end up exhausted and our fitness would plateau.


What benefits does it have?

There are multiple benefits to HIT including strength, muscle growth, fat loss, improved cardiovascular fitness.


An example of a HIT workout

Perhaps the most notorious high-intensity workout in CrossFit is “Fran”:

  • 21-15-9
  • Thrusters (42.5/30kg)
  • Pull-ups


This is an all-out sprint that once finished should not be possible to perform again straight away, at the same pace. Some may look at this and wonder how they could sprint through 45 pull-ups when they can not even perform 1 rep. This is where ‘scaling’ comes into play in order to perform this workout at the intended intensity level. We could sub the butterfly pull-up for jumping pull-ups or perhaps ring rows. This would allow this athlete to move at the same pace and intensity as an athlete performing this RX. Another example could be “Tabata”:

8 rounds of high-intensity exercise in specific 20s on, 10s off intervals.