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Should you be doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is extremely popular these days, so should you be doing it? In this article I’m going to look at the pros and cons of HIIT so that you can decide whether or not to include it as part of your exercise regime, as well as giving you a couple of routines to try at home if you think it could be for you.

Pros of HIIT

  1. It doesn’t take as long to do as conventional cardio training, which means if you are busy then you should still be able to fit some HIIT into your training regime.
  2. You burn calories after you finishing training. Your body goes into repair mode post HIIT, meaning that you burn calories even after you’ve finished.
  3. You don’t need any equipment, so you can do it anytime, anywhere. This is obviously extremely useful if you can’t get to the gym due to the rigours of life or if you don’t have a gym membership. It is also easy to do when on holiday, if your hotel doesn’t happen to have a gym.
  4. Variety. There are literally thousands of different ways of doing HIIT. You can change the amount of time you work, the amount of time you rest and the type and amount of exercises you do. You can do bodyweight training, you can use machines and you can use other pieces of kit like battle ropes (my personal favourite) or a sled. All of this variety means that there should always be something to keep you interested.

Cons of HIIT

  1. It may not be the best choice for beginners. Due to the fact HIIT is exactly what it says it is, high intensity, it may not be the best form of exercise for beginners. If you are a beginner you may want to ease yourself in gently with some low intensity training or something that allows for longer rest periods.
  2. There is a high potential for injury if you are not suited to the exercises prescribed. You will often see quite explosive exercises such as jumping lunges, box jumps and burpees prescribed with HIIT. There is nothing wrong with these exercises, in fact they can be very effective, but they are not for everybody. If you are new to training or have pre-existing injuries, I believe that there are better exercises you could be doing.
  3. HIIT is proclaimed to be the be all and end all of fat loss, it’s not, it’s a great method for fat loss, but there are many ways to skin a cat. It’s not the holy grail, it can be very effective when prescribed correctly, but you don’t be tricked into thinking it’s the only way to get results.

If you think that you may want to try HIIT then here are 2 sample workouts for you, taken from Stage 1 of my Online Personal Training program.

Please be aware that I always advise people to seek advice from a trainer or medical professional before beginning any exercise regime. If you have any pre-existing injuries or have had heart issues in the past, always get signed off by a doctor first.

HIIT Workout 1

HIIT Workout 2

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