Is High-Intensity Interval Training Right For You?

As the fitness world innovates new and improved workout methods, we can get overwhelmed with all the choices available to us. A recent exercise format that has been getting more popular is High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT.  We’ll explore it here so you can learn if it is right for you. 

What Is HIIT?

HIIT is well-named, because it truly is an intense cardio workout! Physical trainers love it because it gets our heart rates up quickly in a short amount of time. Even the most high-impact HIIT workouts only last for under 30 minutes. An HIIT session involves short bursts of energetic activity to get the heart pumping and the calories burning. 

During HIIT workouts, you’ll exercise as hard as you physically can for short bursts of 20 to 90 seconds, often with bodyweight work like pushups or tools like medicine balls. Between the bursts, you rest to let your heart rate drop back down. Alternating between the high intensity workouts and the rest periods conditions your cardiovascular system and burns a lot of calories! 

The Benefits of HIIT

There are several benefits that people experience when they start adding HIIT to their exercise routines. It’s been credited with being a great way to reduce fat in all areas of the body because of the high levels of cardio work you are doing. Other cardio exercise such as running or skipping rope gives similar effects, but HIIT condenses the effort into a shorter time frame. Another benefit of HIIT is that it increases your stamina overall. When you push yourself to your limits in short bursts, you are then able to increase your endurance in other training methods that aren’t as demanding. 

Drawbacks and Dangers of HIIT

HIIT may produce quick effects on the body, but they may not be all good! Because of its fast pace, you are more likely to injure yourself in an HIIT session.  If you are unfamiliar with proper form in basic exercise activities like pushups, crunches, planks, and lunges, you will want to seek out a trainer that can guide you. Even experienced athletes may find HIIT can strain their body and put them at higher risk of injury. 

Just like all exercise programs, you’ll want to consult a doctor and research HIIT before adding it to your fitness routine. The following groups of people should NOT do HIIT until they’ve consulted with a health professional: 

  • Those with a heart condition, cardiovascular disease, or have had recent heart surgery
  • Anyone who has pelvic floor weakness or experiences incontinence
  • People who are pregnant
  • People who are up to 6 months postpartum

Health professionals agree that HIIT has huge benefits, but most recommend that it is done in moderation. Adding it as a part of a well-rounded exercise routine may be the best way to enjoy its benefits while avoiding its drawbacks.