PCS Coaching

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) vs Long Slow Distance (LSD).

Which is better for cycling?

High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) has really increased in popularity over the last 5 to 10 years. But is the saying “No gain without pain” really true?

What is HIIT?

HIIT is defined as performing different cardio workouts as fast and as hard as an athlete can manage. This intensity completed for short periods of time is usually associated with circuit training. The sessions only last for a short period of time per individual workout. The goal is to complete the intervals as fast as possible with perfect technique and with minimal rest between.

What is LSD?

On the other hand, long slow distance (LSD) is a less intense form of training which involves completing endurance activities at a lower intensity for a long period of time. LSD is known to improve your ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and teaches your body how to use fat as energy, making it more economical in burning this fuel so that you can train for much longer periods of time. LSD develops aerobic fitness and muscular endurance.

But not everyone has 5+ hours a day to train.

And that’s where HIIT training became so popular. Bigger gains in less time sounds great but is this really the case? Not exactly. Research suggests that a mixture of HIIT and LSD is the key to gaining fitness and heightening performance.

If you are time poor, you must be smart with the time that you have. Completing a 30–40-minute HIIT workout and engaging your fast twitch muscles e.g getting up in those big gears climbing which strengthen and sharpening up your technique.

But LSD is just as important as over reliance on HIIT can cause an athlete to not be able to hit their max threshold. If all you do is high intensity workouts, and the body doesn’t have time to recover you end up just doing medium level workouts and threshold is not met.

LSD improves your peripheral adaptations, increasing your capillary density & myoglobin. It also increases your mitochondria which helps your body use free fatty acids as fuel ultimately increasing your glycogen stores. All of these adaptations increase the athlete’s ability to grind away for long periods of time. LSD also gives the body a chance to heal and build muscle fibres. It is an important part of endurance training but should only be used as one part of your arsenal. A mixed training program is ultimately the goal.

How can PCS help?

Progressive Coaching Systems designs programs based on the individual’s goals, lifestyle, time to train, work life balance and their fitness level. We make sure to incorporate a range of training methods depending on how much time you have available to train.

With the nature of HIIT sessions they are usually based around rest days or easy days and weekends are used for endurance type activities.  It is important to make sure that your training is balanced and incorporating other weight-based training including upper body and core strength workouts.

If you are ready to take the next step in your training, PCS will work with you to formulate a program that works around your timetable.  Schedule in a breakthrough call and we can discuss how I can help you become a faster, stronger and more focused athlete. Let us take the guess work out of your training and get you the results you really want!


Book A Breakthrough Session – PCS Coaching

Donna 1
High Performance Mountain Bike Coach

Donna Dall

My speciality is helping serious and recreational mountain bikers break through plateaus to attain higher levels of performance so that they can get fitter, faster, stronger and win more races!

Learn More