HIIT (high intensity interval training) is awesome. It’s a great way to rev your systems, challenge your cardiovascular system and push your anaerobic threshold (science speak for push your body’s ability to really push) and it’s efficient. In it’s “true” form HIIT is all about a short burst of hard effort, paired with an interval of lesser intensity and repeated. It’s smart & it’s been proven to be very effective. BUT (and it’s a big one)…
It’s not for everyone.
- It’s not for you if you’re just getting started. Intervals can be great, but HIIT is something different. It requires a solid base of aerobic training, better achieved through lower intensity aerobic exercise (think walking, swimming or biking).
It’s not for you if you’re struggling with injury. You need to be doing slow & controlled movement patterns to re-train muscle patterning & allow the joints/ soft tissue to heal.
It’s not for people doing heavy weight lifting (I know, this sounds like a shocker, but hear me out). If you’re lifting with high intensity (think 3-4 days per week, heavy weights) that volume of training is draining on the body. Specifically it’s draining to the central nervous system. If you then do HIIT on your alternate days (which is even more taxing to the central nervous system) you’re not getting the required rest to get the gains you want from your weight lifting. You simply won’t have the “energy” to do well at anything. Which leads to a bunch of mediocre workouts & possibly over-training.
Most importantly…it’s not for people that don’t like high intensity. Because we all know that if you don’t like it – you won’t DO it. And the MOST effective form of exercise? The one you’ll DO!
Now, I’m not ragging on HIIT. I love a good HIIT workout. For me it’s got tremendous value. #1 I love it. I love that hard effort and challenging my limits. It’s also of value to me because I’m a runner (and much like most runners I’m interested in improving my speed and improving). So challenging my anaerobic threshold through HIIT has performance value to me. Thirdly? I have a varied fitness program that includes moderate intensity aerobic activity, weight based strength training days, higher intensity cardio days & recovery days that may include yoga or total rest. My program incorporates HIIT about 1x per week – that’s enough for the desired training effect AND not so much that I’m pushed into over training.
I saw a meme once that said “don’t mindlessly follow the masses, sometimes the M is silent.” I think this is true in fitness & in life!