High-intensity interval training is the new craze. You see everyone on social media touting #bodygoals and doing HIIT workouts daily.
Guess what? HIIT workouts aren't really supposed to be done every day.
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Just like with heavy deadlifts, if you can do HIIT workouts every day, you aren't doing it right.
What Exactly is a HIIT Workout?
So HIIT workouts are basically a cardiovascular exercise strategy. You alternate short periods of all-out intense exercise with a less intense recovery period.
Alternate between the high-intensity and the low-intensity periods repeatedly until you are too exhausted to continue.
HIIT workouts improve your athletic capacity and conditioning. This means that you are able to do more, lift more, and do it more efficiently.
Some researchers have noted that the general population may not be able to handle the extreme nature of HIIT workouts. Your conditioning level and overall health should dictate whether or not you are ready for HIIT workouts.
While there is no set formula for a HIIT workout, a common time scheme for your intervals could be a 1:1 or a 2:1. Of course, this all depends on your level of conditioning.
A 2:1 ratio means you could have 30 to 40 seconds of hard all-out work, alternating with 15 to 20 seconds of recovery time. If your conditioning is poor, sticking to a 1:1 or a 1:2 ratio will still help. As your conditioning improves, you can strive to go for longer all-out intervals and shorter rest intervals.
People aren't always able to push themselves to the very limit; what HIIT workouts are supposed to do.
Benefits of HIIT Workouts
Of course, there are plenty of benefits to doing HIIT workouts.
If you've looked into HIIT workouts, you've probably wanted to lose some fat, right? Research shows that interval training can repair your metabolism by reducing inflammation. This forces the body to improve its ability to use and burn energy.
Since your body is burning energy more efficiently, you will start burning fat at a faster rate. Similar to lifting, HIIT workouts have a post-exercise calorie burn that lasts for hours.
HIIT workouts also improve your VO2 max. This is your maximal oxygen uptake. This is your maximal aerobic capacity. This means you can walk up flights of stairs and not wonder how you didn't die.
Along with improved conditioning, HIIT can significantly lower your insulin resistance when compared to continuous training. HIIT workouts have also shown to modestly decrease fasting blood glucose levels.
Downside of Doing HIIT Workouts Too Frequently
As with everything, too much of something good can eventually be bad for you. Just like when you lift weights, you need to be able to recover properly. Daily HIIT workouts will lead to a higher risk of injury.
Overtraining does happen. Your muscle tissue, joints, and overall body will eventually wear out. This is when injuries occur. If you've ever experienced burnout in the gym, meaning you have no desire to go, it happens with HIIT workouts as well.
You will feel like you are sick, fatigued, and you certainly won't look forward to your workout. If you can't focus and give it your all, you will get sloppy with your exercise and it will lead to injury.
So What's the Optimal HIIT Workout Schedule?
HIIT workouts can be done two to three days per week in conjunction with regular cardio and lifting. As long as you can get 24 hours of solid recovery between sessions, you'll be fine.
HIIT workouts offer many benefits and they are fun.
If you tried to sprint as fast as possible, how long would you make it? One or two minutes?
With HIIT workouts, you are able to perform intervals of all-out sprinting. If you performed ten 30-second intervals of sprinting, you'll have sprinted for a total of five minutes.
Getting the Most Out of Your HIIT Workouts
Anyone can hop on a treadmill and do a HIIT session. Making the most out of the time in the gym is what separates the boys from the men.
Ready to take your training to the next level? Check out these tips to get the most out of your HIIT workout.
Listen to your body. Injuries should not be in your game plan. Take the time to learn your body and find the telltale signs that something is not right.
When performing your HIIT sessions, it is an all-out as hard as you can go. You shouldn't be able to talk to others or even focus on anything else.
Listening to your body and learning your limitations will keep you from overtraining and causing injury.
Manage your energy. There's no need to push yourself so hard you cannot recover before your next interval. Your heart rate is going to skyrocket, and you will have a hard time breathing.
Take your time and learn your body so that your intervals will push you to get better, but not push you over the edge.
Use maximum intensity. Turning the treadmill up a few miles per hour isn't going to cut it. You have to push yourself to the point where you start wondering if this was a good idea.
Steady state cardio is a lower intensity cardio that many confuse with interval training.
Keeping the intensity high pushes your body to burn more fat as fuel and keep burning for up to 24 hours after your workout. Add this sort of intensity to other workouts such as push-ups, cycling, swimming, and other plyometrics.
Switch things up. Doing the same routine every time isn't going to cut it. Trying different HIIT workouts and intervals will force your body to scramble to recover. This shock that you've given your body will stoke the EPOC effect.
This is the excessive post-oxygen consumption effect, which is what helps your body burn calories for up to 24 hours after your workout.
Eat enough of the good stuff. Eating enough nutritious food will help your body replenish what it burns, and stokes your metabolism.
Feeling too sluggish and tired all of the time? The extra intensity and calories you are burning need to be replenished properly. If you are training with too large of a calorie deficit, your body simply does not have the resources to fully recover.
For the best performance, try to get a small meal with plenty of healthy carbs about 30 minutes before your workout. Finishing off with a protein shake or a protein-heavy meal post-workout will help your body recover and get ready for the next session.
Wrapping It Up
HIIT workouts increase the size and strength of your fast-twitch muscle fibers, you blast belly fat away, and you're improving heart health.
Just like when you lift weights, if you truly push yourself to the maximum, you cannot do them everyday.
Short HIIT sessions of 5 to 7 minutes pound your nervous system and demand the most from our bodies. Put your time in and make some gains.