Three reasons why you should be doing HIIT and Three reasons why you should avoid it
HIIT is so hot right now, and if you’re doing HIIT you’re probably hot too. HIIT is a fitness industry buzzword and is often touted as an essential for those looking to get shredded.
But what is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is a method of cardiovascular exercise utilizing short periods of intense physical exercise coupled with periods of rest (or active recovery). There are many examples you may have come across such as sprint intervals, Tabata workouts, certain WODs etc.
Should you be doing HIIT?
As with most things in life, there are some great reasons to do it as well as some reasons you probably should be avoiding it. Below I will outline 3 reasons for and against making HIIT part of your weekly training program.
Lets start with the Pro’s:
1. Improved Fitness
Without question including HIIT in your program will have great benefits on your fitness. There have been several good meta analyses on the impact of HIIT training on fitness, with results showing generally improved cardiovascular fitness, but especially good VO2 max improvements (in comparison with steady state work) as well things like blood vessel function and health. Studies show improvements in resting hear rate as well as blood pressure amongst individuals incorporating HIIT into their routines.
Anecdotally I’m sure anyone reading this who have used sprints, bar complexes, mini circuits or any other type of HIIT for an extended period of time will testify to the fitness improvements.
If you’re looking to improve your #fitness #cardio #gastank then HIIT could be an excellent tool for you.
2. Fat Burning
HIIT has been shown in several studies to be an excellent exercise modality for burning fat. Whilst all forms of cardio can be used as an effective tool alongside diet at creating a calorie deficit thus leading to weight loss and fat loss from the body, HIIT has little to no interference effect with weight training; so it can be done alongside your lifting with little risk of catabolic effect or negatively impacting strength or muscle building.
MISS (Medium intensity steady state) like typical endurance training (for example running for extended periods of time (>30 mins) has the potential to negatively impact weight training results and performance due to an interference effect. Without boring you with too much science think of it this way – Weight training is manly Anaerobic in nature and so is HIIT – so the adaptations you are making to your body are similar. MISS is Aerobic in nature and so the adaptations you are making are divergent.
Now don’t get me wrong, any cardio can be intelligently programmed, however, those wanting maximum results from their lifting whilst wanting to shed fat may be better suited to HIIT.
3. Time Efficient.
Who has time for a 2 hour run? (or any running tbh) Seriously though one of the major attractions to HIIT is its time efficiency. HIIT can be performed in a very short period of time and so can fit nicely around other training, life commitments etc.
A HIIT routine such as sprints will take a lot less time to perform than other cardiovascular modalities. For example 10x 10 Seconds sprints at a 1:3 work to rest ratio will take less than 7 mins (not including the time it takes you to throw up)
So HIIT sounds really good, takes next to no time, you get a lot fitter and it helps burn fat – what’s not to love?
1. Risk of Injury
Due to the intense nature of HIIT it does carry a slightly higher injury risk than other training options. Of course some methods may be higher risk than others – for example using weight training in a HIIT style may be riskier as we get fatigued than say stationary bike.
The potential for a muscle strain or similar injury can make this unattractive to those in whom HIIT is not themain focus – a damaged hamstring due to sprinting may inhibit effective lower body training or prevent someone playing their sport.
This is where LISS (low intensity steady state) training can become a great option for those wanting to mitigate injury risk. A LISS-class Exercise like walking has little to no interference effect with weight training, helps burn calories and carries little injury risk.
2. Negatively Impacts your other training
Similarly to above HIIT in its very nature (High Intensity) can have a negative knock on effect to your other training. Even without injury, HIIT is very demanding, can cause killer DOMS and promotes a lot of accumulated fatigue.
These factors can dramatically affect an athlete’s ability to perform at peak levels, and so may not be a wise choice for those looking to excel in other areas of performance.
This is especially important in those about to start cardio training, perhaps in a cutting phase. The new addition of cardio will already have a fatiguing effect on the body, but HIIT can really ‘turn the dial up to 11’ and leave a trainee feeling very sore for days after.
3. You hate it
Perhaps the most important reason to avoid HIIT is that you hate it. Lets be honest, HIIT is very tough, very demanding and pretty much sucks all round (if you’re doing it right)
Now if you’re in a sport that demands excellent cardiovascular (specifically anaerobic) fitness then unfortunately you may have to learn to embrace it. If you’re a track and field, combat sports or Crossfit athlete you’re probably going to get to know HIIT very well.
Conversely if you’re someone who is seeking out positive body composition changes and you just want to look and feel good – you don’t need to do HIIT!
Yup that’s right, actually outside of a decent daily activity level you don’t have to do any cardio at all if you dislike it J. Use weight training to change the shape of your body and your nutrition to manipulate your weight.
You should endeavor to enjoy all of the training you do (as much as possible) to keep motivation and adherence high. Now you may not love every single aspect of your program, but if there is a part you truly hate and its not 100% essential then choose an alternative.
So that was helpful right? Sitting firmly on the fence lol. In all seriousness the decision is yours, I have had a lot of HIIT in my program at times as well as long periods with no HIIT what so ever.
HIIT just like a Plant Based Diet, Intermittent Fasting, CBD and any other fitness buzzword is not magical. It is simply a tool; if it’s the right tool for the goal you have then use it. Know the pros and cons, the options and alternatives and then make an educated decision on if you would like to include it into your training regime.