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This copy comes from an e-book that I created for one of my clients in the fitness industry to pass along to his. this writing tone and information is all him - i simply took it from the many disorganized emails and files that he sent me. you can see more of the e-books and branded publications that i've done over here in my branding portfolio.

5 Reasons NOT to HIIT Everyday

Say WHAT?! You're being sarcastic, right?

HIIT is supposed to be AMAZING! Real, scientific research promises that it leads to major results! It's one of the best trends to hit (pun totally intended) the fitness industry in years. Isn't it?!

Kind of.  

High Intensity interval training (HIIT) does have a lot of wonderful things going for it. However, there are quite a few "if's" that go along with that statement. The biggest one goes something like this: "HIIT is an extremely effective form of working out IF it's done correctly and in combination with other workouts." I promise I'm not going to make you give up your favorite HIIT classes, but I do hope that you'll hear me out so that you can be sure that you're burning as much fat and reaching your fitness goals as quickly and effectively as possible. 

Here come the reasons...

1. HIIT is no better than any other kind of workout. 

Many studies done that compare HIIT with resistance or circuit training almost all end up showing that no workout is better than the other. Actually, they've all been shown to be better than the others and, as we know, not everything can be the best simultaneously. In fact, there's not even consistency between trials as to what constitutes each workout. The difference between HIIT or circuit training depends on the whims of those conducting the experiment. This basically goes to show that they're basically all the same! Furthermore, most of the studies aren't accounting for food, diet or lifestyle in the same ways. So not only are these studies inconclusive, they're also incomplete! 

So is there actually any difference? HIIT sessions are usually shorter, but have a higher work to rest ratio - sometimes as high as 4 to 1. That means you have to work hard enough in one minute that your body NEEDS 4 minutes of recovery before you work hard again. Without monitoring heart rate or other metrics, you can't tell that you've recovered (or worked hard) enough. That's why HIIT in group fitness settings is often not what you think it is. 

2. It doesn't work without a strong aerobic base.

If HIIT is your training turbo booster, then aerobic capacity makes up both your gas and reserve gas tanks. Or, in fitness terms, HIIT relies on anaerobic training (working without oxygen) to do it's job. Therefore, to recover, your body uses the oxygen that you've been sucking in even when you can't breathe. The more oxygen you take in, the faster you'll recover. I think of this as having a wood burning stove. The bigger your stove, the more wood you can burn and the warmer you are. On the stove, the chimney (amount of output) is just as important as the fuel and damper (the input).

Furthermore, you'll breathe more efficiently (and burn more calories) after a HIIT training session as a result of your elevated red blood count (which elevates as a result of your time spent being anaerobic).

3. It doesn't make you look better naked.

The goal for most training is a positive crossover into real life. If your life is only 20-60 seconds of HEAVY activity followed by at least that (or double that) amount of time for recovery, then HIIT is training for real life. However, for most of our lives, we are working at 30-60% effort throughout our entire 12-16 hour day (and we want to look good doing it!). 

To have the "toned" and strong body that many (most?) people are looking for, you need a combination of strength and cardio training. Just doing the fun HIIT classes don't develop lean muscle mass or the endurance needed to look good naked and live an active life. 

4. You think about cardio wrong.

When most people think of cardio, they think of long distance running, biking or swimming. Those workouts are actually called SPECIFIC training. However, general cardiovascular fitness can be so much more. Cardio is any activity that holds your heart rate at a set target for a specific amount of time. 

In fact, with that definition in mind, you don't have to leave the weight room or stop doing your lifting program to do cardio. Mixing up your power lifting routine with some longer time under tension or bodyweight resistance training might just change your opinions of cardio as boring or not for you!

5. It can lead to burnout. 

Not only can doing the same workout everyday get boring, it can actually do more harm than good! Doing HIIT everyday is a great way to lead to a decrease in calories burned and getting sick. Think of the rules of conversion: When an organism is using a resource, that resource is more closely guarded. Your body will begin to burn fewer calories over a 60 minute class if you're doing the exact same work every time. Combine that with a little less sleep than normal, a stressful family situation and calorie reduction and that's a great way to catch whatever cold or flu is going around! 

 HIIT was meant for once or twice a week. Resistance and circuit training combined with HIIT is a good way to make great adaptations and develop a comprehensive program.