By Cat, The Ivy League Content
Fitness trends come and go almost as fast as diet trends (remember shake weights?). That’s why we perk up and notice when one seems to stick around and gain traction with lots of people. What we’re talking about, of course, is the ever-popular HIIT workout.
HIIT Workouts are a Huge Hit
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, describes a workout where short bursts of all-out physical intensity are followed by periods of rest or lesser activity. The intensity portions of the routine last 30 seconds to one minute, and are followed by one to two minutes of going easy. You repeat the cycle for 15 minutes to half an hour.
It’s said to blast fat and help build muscle, the two supreme and universal fitness goals of just about everyone in any given gym around the world. The fact that the method holds up to scientific research performed by respected physiologists and fitness experts adds to the credibility quite a bit.
Finally, what makes all this even more amazing is that fitness goals can be reached in workouts that last half an hour or less.
Overzealous Newbies Jump Head-First into HIIT
So who wouldn’t want to dive into a HIIT routine with the gusto of a wild pony? It seems to work, scientists approve, you can achieve your fitness goals during your lunch hour and most importantly, it doesn’t require hours on the treadmill to burn fat.
Be warned, however. This is where HIIT newbies get into trouble. Dazzled by the promise of a fit, lean body rippling with muscle with minimal investment of time, they decide to powerhouse their routine and go for max.
Why not double up on your HIIT workouts for faster results?
But guess what. Putting your body through a true HIIT workout more than the prescribed number of times per week is nothing but grueling. The body needs those non-HIIT days to recover and build muscle. In fact, one of the beautiful facts about HIIT is that you’re actually burning more fat and calories the day after your HIIT workout than after most other workouts, including a big long jog.
Sooner or later, those wild ponies of HIIT are going to start hating their workouts because they’re burning themselves out. Plus, they may not see the results they’d hoped for because they’re not giving their bodies time to recover between workouts.
How Often Should You Do HIIT Workouts?
HIIT is designed to provide fitness and health benefits with just one, two, or three sessions per week. Those sessions can last 15 minutes or half an hour, depending on your fitness level, your goals, and your personal trainer’s guidance. Some say it can be done in four minutes but the jury’s still out on that.
Doing HIIT more than three times per week means either of two things and possibly both:
– You’re not making your intense intervals intense enough
– You’re running yourself ragged, physically, and won’t sustain the routine.
Conclusion: Yes, It’s Possible to Overdo HIIT
Doing HIIT more than three times per week means you are definitely overdoing it. The consequences are tri-fold:
Disappointing results. You won’t get the results you dream of because you’re not hitting the intensity levels required
Mental burnout. You run the risk of burning out and getting no results other than exhaustion
Physical risk. You risk injury due to over-training because you’re not giving your muscles enough time to heal
So keep on with your HIIT workouts, but make sure you’re actually fulfilling the “HI”, or high-intensity demands they require. When you truly power up the intensity, you won’t be able to do HIIT more than three times per week anyway. Plan for some yoga on your other days, or a nice walk in the park.
Cat is the owner of Ivy League Content, a Key-West based writing business specializing in research-intensive articles for the web. With a background in linguistics, Cat worked as a University writing teacher before she entered a career in higher ed administration. When the Internet took over the world in the early aughts, she immediately switched to online marketing and writing for the web, and has never looked back.