HIIT THAT: The Right and Wrong Way to Use HIIT Training

How do you get a great workout in a short amount of time? HIIT training is one route you may go to achieve a great workout that builds muscles and burn calories in 20-30 minutes. Sounds pretty good for the mother of three, the high-level business exec., the vacationer who is looking to drop a few extra pounds before his or her trip. But here is the caveat. Just like all forms of exercise, there is a right way and a wrong way to use HIIT training.

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. In these workouts a few exercises are chosen and then completed one after another for a certain amount of time or repetitions. For most HIIT workouts, the goal is to do as many reps as you can during the intervals. This is where you can get into trouble. As go from station to station at a high intensity, you will begin to fatigue. With fatigue comes breakdown in form. When form breaks down, your risk of injury and compensation of movements increases. There is nothing that will derail your progress faster than an injury and compensating during an exercise puts you on the fast track for creating muscular imbalances that do not contribute to a balance physique and even change the way your body moves.

Companies such as Orange Theory and F45 are well known for their class setting high intensity interval workouts. They use the group settings and studio atmosphere to get their members hyped during their workouts. I get it. They are sexy and fun that leave you sweaty and sore. but that does not mean that you are getting a quality workout. It can be quite the opposite. I get a lot of people that come to me saying, “Chris, I did Orange Theory and lost a lot of weight. How can it be a bad workout?” I simply reply to this by congratulating them on their weight loss and then ask them what they were doing for exercise before they started classes like Orange Theory, F45, P90X, or Beach Body and nine out of ten would tell me that they were not doing anything. There lays the truth. The reason that they got such great results was not because the programming was great but the fact that they were doing some form of exercise and probably doing it consistently. Any poorly developed program done consistently will yield far more results than one done inconsistently. Therefore, if you are going to choose to do a HIIT program, there are some key things that are important to know. We are going to dive into how to effectively use HIIT training, what type of exercises you should choose, how long you should run a HIIT program, and how to be aware of your body’s tolerance to high intensity.

How to Effectively Use HIIT Training

When looking at HIIT training, it is important to remember that while it does have value, it is a tool. I would not recommend that this be a permanent way of training. Yes, it burns a lot of calories. Yes, it burns fat quickly in the short term, but it must be used as a tool and a tool only. This is a great way of training if you want to shed a few extra pounds before you go on vacation, but it should not be used for a long period of time because of if you use a HIIT program for an extended amount of time, you can run into the risk of over training which leads to injury more times than not.

What Types of Exercises to Choose

When it comes to choosing exercises for HIIT Training you want to choose ones that give the bang for you buck and burn body fat while also building muscle. This means selecting compound strength training exercises such as squats, lunges, bench press, push-ups, pull-ups, rows, and over head presses. With most HIIT programs, it is encouraged that you go balls to the wall and get as many reps as possible. I recommend against this mentality because it takes the importance of perfect form out of the picture. This is a sure-fire way to increase your risk of injury. Form is key and choosing proper exercises will give you far more results than just targeting an elevated heart rate. Instead, going after a pump in the targeted muscle groups will help you burn a lot of calories while building muscle, and using compound lifts will help achieve this goal because they move multiple joints and work multiple muscle groups.

How Long To Run a HIIT Program

As I said above, HIIT training is a great tool in the short term but not one that should be used on a regular basis. It is strong, novel stimulus to the body that will yield great results when performed properly. After about three to six weeks, your body will begin to adapt to the stimulus, and you will no longer be reaping the benefits of the training. Instead, your progress can stall and even go backwards. Therefore, I set a six-week maximum for my clients when it comes to HIIT training.

How to Be Aware of Your Body

As stressed earlier, form is key to getting true results. Not only does it mitigate the risk of injury, but it will also give you far more results as you work your muscles through full ranges of motion. From here, I recommend that mobility be a part of your regimen. Proper mobility training will provide increased stability and range of motion which will keep you safe during high intensity exercises. It is important to note, that if you are unable to maintain proper form during your lifts, it is probably a sign that you are using too much weight. Lower the weight, increase focus on form and pump, and I promise you get great results.

Now that you have an improved understanding of HIIT training, you can begin getting beach bod before summer and upcoming vacations. Before starting a HIIT program, get stable and mobile. I would then choose four to six compound exercises and perform them in succession for 10-20 reps each for four to five rounds. I leave you with an sample HIIT workout that hits the full body. Enjoy!

Complete four rounds for each exercise in succession with minimal rest between exercises

Perform 10-20 reps each

Two minute rest between rounds

  1. Goblet Squat
  2. Dumbbell Bench Press
  3. Supinated Barbell Row
  4. Dumbbell Arnold Press
  5. Ball Crunches

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