If you’ve been reading up on how to advance your workout sessions, you’ve likely heard of high intensity interval training, or HIIT, before. This advanced form of cardio training has you alternate between brief periods of very intense exercise and active rest periods. This process is repeated five to ten times, making up a 15-20 minute workout session, not including the warm-up and cool-down. When done properly, it offers superior conditioning and fat-burning benefits due to the high calorie burn both during and after the workout.
Sounds great, right? Before you dive right into it, there are a few things that you must know.
1. YOU’LL BE AT A HIGHER RISK OF OVERTRAINING
HIIT done right is a great form of exercise that will make a perfect addition to your workout program. HIIT done wrong could lead to injuries, burn out, and loss of motivation to continue.
Realize that your body can only handle so much intense exercise per week. If you attempt to do HIIT and full-body weight lifting sessions 5 or 6 days a week, it’s only a matter of time before your system crashes. Remember that even though you may be working different muscles on successive workouts, your central nervous system will still be working hard, generating the strength and power needed to get these sessions done. It needs rest time, too. Even the most fit of individuals should cap it off at four very intense workouts total a week if you’re advanced, or three if you’re at the intermediate level.
2. YOU’LL WANT TO SELECT THE PROPER FORM OF EXERCISE
The second important point to know is that you must select the right form of exercise.
What’s correct? The key thing to look for is an exercise where you can accelerate quickly. If it takes you 10 seconds to get to top speed and you’re doing 30 second intervals, you’ve just wasted a third of the total time you should be working. Choose an activity that allows you to get to top speed almost instantaneously. Burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, spinning, and running are all great choices.
3. SCHEDULE WISELY WITH YOUR LOWER BODY STRENGTH TRAINING
Most forms of HIIT are going to really stress the lower body muscles, so be mindful of when you do them in relation to lower body strength training. If you’re doing sets of heavy squats, lunges, and dead lifts one day, you’ll wake up the next day seriously dreading attempting a HIIT. Your lower body needs time to recover from the weight days. Skip a day, then do your HIIT workout the following day.
If you keep these points in mind, you should be able to successfully make the transition to high intensity interval training and reap all the benefits it has to offer. Do you have your own HIIT words of wisdom? Tell us about them in the comments below.