The main reason that most people start a new diet, exercise program or keep fit routine, is to lose weight. Ask any one of them which is the perfect way to drop pounds and the usual answer will be, “as quickly as possible.” This is why high intensity interval training, or HIIT, has become so popular recently. Its devotees claim that it gets you lean and trim in less time. This program might not be for everyone and it is worth taking time to examine it more closely before you commit to HIIT.
HIIT is a way of training that uses short intervals of exercise at maximum intensity, interspaced with longer intervals of exercise at a more moderate intensity. The idea is that because you keep pushing yourself beyond your normal aerobic limits you increase the amount of calories burnt during and after the session as it takes longer for your body to recover. Your body should continue to burn off calories after your session at almost 27% higher than the usual rate for up to 14 hours. You are also conditioning your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. It sounds an ideal workout for people who want the best results in the shortest time. There are aspects of HIIT that you need to consider first.
Is it an effective use of your time?
When it comes to exercise, your rest periods are are as important as the actual time you spend in the gym or working out. It is when your body is in recovery mode that muscles grow and strengthen. So because HIIT is so intense it can’t be done too regularly. Any more than three sessions a week and your body doesn’t get the vital recovery time and so your exercise is not effective. If you do have the time to do less intense exercise more often, you will burn more calories over the week. For example, if a daily 40 minute run burns 200 calories while 15 minutes of HIIT burns 300, the runner burns more calories by the end of the week (1400) than the HIIT trainer (900) as they can only manage three sessions. HIIT is really suited to people who don’t have much time to play with though..
Does it match your goals?
Think about what your actual fitness goals are. If you are looking to improve speed and performance and boost your anaerobic capacity than this is a great option. But if it is only fat loss that you are seeking you might be better with a standard workout where you can exercise more often and burn more calories overall. Controlling your diet, doing cardio and strengthening with weights is the best way to fight the flab. Be careful of the post-workout burn the comes with HIIT that it doesn’t lead to eating more than you should.
Faster certainly does not mean easier
You may get the benefit of shorter workouts with HIIT but you will be working extremely hard at time and it can take a lot out of you and your central nervous system. You will need your recovery days or you will put yourself at the risk of overtraining.
Beware of injuries
Injuries are more common for people doing HIIT because of the fact you are really pushing your body at an explosive rate. If you are not in good shape or are overweight initially it is not a great ‘starter’ exercise. You should also reconsider if you have had serious injuries in the past. When doing HIIT a warm up is absolutely vital. Stretching and running is a good way to do this. You know your own body’s limits, if you feel you are overdoing it, stop. This is why an experienced instructor or personal trainer is good to have onboard to make sure you’re working out at the right capacity and in the right way.
Beware of plateauing
HIIT is noted for the incredible impact it can have on the body as you are suddenly pushing your limits. But as with every exercise type, you can start to find it is less effective. Of course, you can lengthen your session and do more reps but then you are not getting the benefit of a shorter workout, which is always one of the main selling points of HIIT. Try mixing it up still and get guidance on how to do that.
Don’t neglect your carbs
It is very trendy for people looking to lose weight to cut the carbs from their diet. But if you are going to do HIIT it’s probably time to stock up on your bread and pastas or you simply won’t get through your sessions. For intense workouts you need carbohydrates and glucose in your system otherwise you will lose lean muscle mass and won’t be able to cope. You may be trying to burn calories but you need some fuel inside to do the exercise at all.
Do you think you would like to mix in some HIIT with your usual workouts? Would you like to know more? Get in touch with us today.