High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts seem to be a lot more popular lately. Well, maybe it’s not that they’re more popular but the term “HIIT” itself is more popular. For me it’s been popping up a lot more so I figured I might as well write a post about it 🙂
A couple examples of HIIT programs are:
In a basic sense, HIIT workouts alternate between periods of high intensity with periods of rest. The length of each period can vary greatly depending on who’s writing your program or hopefully what you’re training for.
HIIT workouts can have a lot of benefits too:
- Improved anaerobic capacities
- Improved aerobic capacities
- Shorter workout times to fit busy schedules
- Sustained increase in metabolic rate for longer periods after workouts
- Reducing risk factors of Cardiovascular Disease
- Improving Insulin sensitivity
- Generally less boring than sustained state workouts
As you can see, there are many reasons to use a high intensity workout in your routine. In fact, I’m always looking at how I can help my clients increase the intensity in workouts, ONCE they’ve reached an appropriate level of fitness.
My main concern with any workout program is to make sure that it’s appropriate for the desired goals and current fitness level of the individual. All too often I see something like a HIIT workout being given to a client who’s not ready for it. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Just because it CAN have a ton of benefits doesn’t mean it the right thing to do.
I say CAN have a ton of benefits because sometimes I feel it may not be worth it. There are risks that come along with intensity and it’s important to make sure your body is ready for the challenge.
Some of the cons of HIIT workouts are:
- Increase toxicity in the body
- Extreme muscle soreness
- Risk of injury
These risks are generally greater for anyone just starting into a fitness routine. If you’ve been consistent with a routine for a while, then a HIIT workout program might be a great option for you.
It’s the intensity itself is the main risk for beginners.
By pushing your body too fast, too far, too soon you’re setting yourself up for failure. Injury is the biggest concern because usually your joints aren’t strong enough and your technique isn’t solid. As you push intensity, it’s going to challenge anyone’s technique. Poor technique at a high intensity is a recipe for injury.
Also, high intensity produces a lot of metabolic breakdown of muscle and fat tissue in your workout. This can lead to extreme muscle soreness lasting many days and potentially challenge the body’s ability to effectively filter the toxins out of your body leading to major health risks.
I don’t want to stop anyone from using a high intensity routine, I just want to inform people so they know when to use it.
In my opinion, intensity is where the results are. I’m a strong believer in the value of high intensity workouts.
That being said, intensity is relative. If you’re starting from couch potato status, walking or cycling for 30 minutes is an increase in intensity. There’s no need to be doing 400m repeats on day 1.
As always, progression in your workouts is going to be your best bet for long term success.
What HIIT workout programs have you tried and what have been your results?