High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT took the number ONE spot on the list of major workout trends for 2018. This probably isn’t news to many, especially here in the Washington DC.
Benefits of HIIT classes include:
- Burning TONS of calories
- Boosting metabolism
- Time efficient workouts
- Make quicker cardiovascular gains than with longer, less intense workouts
- Can slow down aging at the cellular level by increasing mitochondrial levels
- Creating a judgement-free community where everyone is excited to workout
Now as exercise trends grow, HIIT has made its way to the mainstream, as this happens more and more people end up trying it.
The biggest problem I have is when new or “untrained” individuals jump into these classes without any prior experience. There should be some understanding of fundamental exercise techniques such as the ability to perform a squat, hip hinge, overhead press, etc before jumping into a class.
4 Key factors to watch out for when doing a HIIT class:
- Inadequate warm up or preparation- everyone of us has different needs whether it’s mobility or stability, and jumping right into a program without addressing those needs can have negative effects.
- Bad programming/instruction- Unfortunately not all coaches/trainers are created equal. This can lead to programming mistakes such as working the same body part or motion repeatedly over back to back classes and not giving enough rest time either in or between workouts. An example of this is that CrossFit HQ recommends that workouts consist of 1 strength/skill exercise OR a metabolic conditioning workout with a 2 days on, 1 day off or 5 days on, 2 days off schedule. However most boxes will schedule a strength AND a conditioning work out 6 days per week.
- Improper Form- This is the biggest risk, especially for newer exercisers. The intensity and speed of the class will not allow you to focus on proper form and this is where injuries can happen. That’s why I stated before, that individuals beginning HIIT class should have solid understanding of fundamental movements patterns beforehand.
- Not enough recovery- While you might think you need to work out every day, the risk of overtraining can increase. Many people who utilize this type of training will work out above their maximal recoverable volume, which is “the highest volume of training an athlete can do in a particular situation and still recover.” While they may progress for a while and hold up for a period, eventually it catches up to them in the form of an overtraining injury. It’s recommended to attend these classes 3-4/week MAX? There should be time spent working on imbalances and restorative activities such as yoga, foam rolling, and strength training.
With all that said, here are some ways to stay safe when trying out HIIT training:
- One of the best things about HIIT is that you don’t need to be in a gym to do it. However if there is a move that you haven’t done before or don’t feel comfortable with, it’s definitely best to go over with a trainer or your instructor first. Even simple moves like push ups and squats are commonly done wrong, so there’s nothing the matter with a form check beforehand. The last thing you want to do is be in the middle of class and have no idea how to do a certain move when you’re already tired from everything else in the class. Also maintaining form is even harder when you begin to add weight to that exercise. So that means if you’re incorporating dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or any other type of weights into your at-home workouts, it’s a good idea to check your form with an expert first.
- Being in a class gives you the advantage of having a teacher or trainer who ideally will be watching you. Its definitely a plus having a trainer or instructor who is experienced and can make sure you’re doing everything correctly. And if you’re new to HIIT, definitely let your instructor know so that they can keep an eye on you!
- Remember to listen to your own body and go at whatever speed/intensity is comfortable, It’s definitely easy to get caught up in the excitement and competitive nature of these types of classes, but there’s no need to be a hero. No rep/time/PR is worth getting injured.
At the end of the day, there are some risks associated with this type of training, however, there are a LARGE number of benefits in taking these classes! Research has also shown that exercise if more fun when its more challenging!