Patients often come to me asking about a fitness trend they’ve heard of, wondering if it’s all hype or something they should try. HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is one of the hottest workout trends right now. The HIIT workout trend came on the scene in 2014. According to the American Academy of Sports Medicine, it has reigned at #1 throughout gyms and homes across the country ever since.
HIIT consists of intense bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of low-intensity active rest or complete rest. HIIT workouts are a great solution for those who hate working out for long periods of time or who don’t have lots of time. Even if you’re not a gym rat or a buff heavy weight lifter, HIIT offers benefits. It’s important, however to understand the pros and cons of any exercise program and make sure it’s right for you.
What is HIIT?
HIIT combines multiple short intervals of cardio, resistance, and strength exercises. Throughout the 20 to 30 minute workout, you alternate between each focus area with quick intervals of rest. This type of interval training is designed to be a metabolic disruptor to increase calories burned not only while working out but long after you’ve changed out of your sweaty clothes. HIIT can be completely modified to your fitness level. So, whether you’re just getting back on the wagon or you’ve been working out for awhile, you can match your HIIT exercises to your level.
Pro: It’s Efficient
A lot of people struggle to find the time to work out because they’ve been taught to believe that a good workout takes one to two hours. With HIIT you can get a full body workout in less than 30 minutes. It’s not only an efficient workout, it’s effective. You can perform a HIIT style workout in your home, at the park, in the gym, in your hotel room. It doesn’t matter where you are, which is what makes it so ideal for people on the go. There’s a formula to figuring out how to calculate how many calories you can burn. The Journal of Sports Medicine lays it out:
Women: Calories = [(0.074 x Age) + (0.4472 x Heart Rate) – (0.05741 x Weight) – 20.4022] x Time / 4.184
Men: Calories = [(0.2017 x Age) + (0.6309 x Heart Rate) – (0.09036 x Weight) – 55.0969] x Time / 4.184
Con: Injuries Increase
The problem with HIIT is that these exercises are performed at a fast pace. This increases your risk for injury. Many people spend 8 or more hours sitting down at a desk before they hit up the gym or head to work out. Taking the time to properly warm up is essential to preventing injuries while exercising. Also, those who have pre-existing injuries may further damage themselves. The best advice is to not “work through the pain.” If something is hurting, stop.
Pro: You Can do it Anywhere
Another big challenge for people when it comes to starting a new exercise routine or maintaining an exercise routine is location. You can’t always find a gym and you can’t always bring all your favorite gym equipment with you. With HIIT training you can perform most exercises just about anywhere. There’s no travel time and minimal prep time as far as equipment goes. You still need to perform adequate warm up exercises, though.
Con: Risk to Joint and Heart Health
Before starting a HIIT routine, it’s suggested that you speak with your physician. Pre-existing injuries and joint and bone issues can get in the way of being able to fully enjoy the workout. Also, if you choose to work through the pain, you may be causing further damage. Those with heart issues may be at risk when increasing their heart rate quickly.
Pro: Increased Exercise Motivation
Because HIIT is such a short (but intense) workout and you can switch up the work out with each session, your motivation to continue working out will stay. There’s nothing worse than getting bored with exercise, which is usually why people stop working out in the first place. Additionally, with the increase in popularity of HIIT exercises, there are many online resources and forums for you to seek out tips, help, exercise ideas, and motivation.
High-Intensity training allows you to do more work within a short amount of time. Working in weight training and cardio in short interval bursts for the ultimate weight loss workout. Its popularity is no surprise given how easy, efficient, and effective it can be. Always remember that before starting any new workout regimen, it’s important to ask your doctor if it’s safe for you.