High Intensity Interval Training has gotten a lot of good talk over the past several years, but just like anything else, too much of even a good thing isn’t good anymore. When something is good, we for some reason feel like more is better. This is a great example of how that’s not the case. This is why you often see the same people always trying to lose weight. BE AWARE OF THE HITT TRAP!
If you are pushing yourself to a true anaerobic level (an intensity that can’t be maintained for more than one to three minutes), one or two days a week of interval or HITT exercise is good. However, too much can lead to over fatigue, injury, and burnout, which starts to become counterproductive. When you burn a lot of calories, you crave more and commonly start to eat some—if not all—of your results back. Here are some of the benefits of HIIT:
Life gets easier and fitness levels improve!
Who doesn’t want that? As my class comes into a HIIT workout, I like to tell them everything that used to be hard will no longer be hard after class. In all seriousness, it’s true. When you push yourself more, the things that used to be hard get easier. In order for our aerobic systems to get stronger, we work our anaerobic system. On the flip side, our aerobic systems become more efficient with aerobic training. If you are always doing the same distance and or intensity, it never gets easier. In order for the hard things to get easier, they need to get harder. A great way to learn this is to incorporate longer walks or runs once or twice a week into your routine, making your shorter runs feel easier. You should do the same with interval training. When you increase your speed for a short amount of time, your normal speed feels easier.
Our hearts are muscles, just like our biceps. If we want stronger biceps, we lift weights. Interval training is like lifting weight for our hearts. We stress the muscle, and it gets stronger. In order to stress the heart, we have to increase our intensity until we are out of breath, we’re not able to talk comfortably, and our legs burn. We are actually more likely to survive a heart attack if we do interval training. I can’t tell you how many times I have had someone concerned about getting their heart rate getting too high. We stress the heart with interval training, but our heart also learns to recover from stressful levels. You should probably be more concerned about not getting your heart rate high than about getting it too high
More time efficient
Yes, the percentage of fat is lower, but as the intensity goes up, the total amount of calories burned goes up. You’re able to get more done in less time. Do you burn more running a mile or walking a mile? It’s the same. It just takes you longer to walk the mile.
It’s fun and provides variety
One of my favorite workouts is a HITT workout. It helps time go by fast, and you feel great after you finish. This is one of the reasons why CrossFit is so popular, but it is also a great example of how it can backfire if overdone.
We can do hard things!
HITT exercise is a great way to help you realize you can do hard things! We set limits on ourselves, and when we know we only have to do something hard for 20-30 seconds, we learn we are capable of more! I’ve gone out walking with a lot of clients, and I always say, “Let’s jog for 30 seconds.” They always reply by saying, “Oh, I can’t jog.” I proceed to tell them we can do anything for 30 seconds. They usually try it and realize they can do it.
The only way to improve is to do harder things, so find a HIIT workout you love and incorporate it into your schedule one to two times a week!