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HIIT workouts: 7 facts your trainer didn't tell you

April 04, 2019 08:50 IST

People who have joint problems, heart condition or are taking any medications for blood pressure should approach HIIT with caution, says health coach Amogh Gadewar.

High Intensity Interval Training

Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Mehta/Instagram

If you are a fitness freak, you already know what HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is.

HIIT is a training protocol used by athletes, actors, models...basically anyone who wants to get fitter and stay in shape.

I am not against HIIT or any particular form of workout, but you have to know that every form of exercise has its own merits and cons.

Time and again, I come across a number of people on various fitness apps and groups who have a lot of preconceived notions about the form of training routine.

While staying fit is important, you must also be well aware of what workouts you choose, what its benefits and risks are.

Let's bust some myths about HIIT workouts today!

Myth 1: It's just cardio!

It is not!

A typical HIIT session consists of performing high intensity, explosive and exhaustive exercise for a certain period of time at your maximum heart rate.

This is followed by a stint of moderate intensity exercise recovery phase which is repeated in intervals.

This can be applied to different types of exercise, including weight training and other sports.

Myth 2: The more you do, the better results you will achieve

The name itself suggests that this type of training is taxing on your body.

HIIT workouts are intense and pushes you to the limits.

You need sufficient amount of rest between your workouts for the best results.

Pushing the 20 minute mark during sessions is not advisable as your intensity will diminish.

An entire HIIT session would last not more than 15 to 20 minutes where generally you follow a 2:1 ratio of work to recovery period.

For example: 30-40 seconds of hard sprinting followed by 15 to 20 seconds of jogging or walking.

It’s highly advisable to limit your HIIT sessions to not more than 3 times a week for best results and to limit the risk of the injury.

Myth 3: HIIT can be done by anyone, anytime

Would you be able to enter the gym and lift 100 kg without any training?

Is it possible for anyone to run a full marathon overnight? Without any preparation?

If your answer is NO, you realise why you shouldn't perform a HIIT workout session without proper training or preparation.

To put it mildly, there is a higher chance for injuries and muscle soreness.

If you are just a beginner and have just started out or if you are above 40 years of age and are totally new to the fit lifestyle, it’s recommended to start with a low intensity aerobic exercise.

Once you are competent enough to complete approximately 30 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercises, you can slowly transition into HIIT workouts.

People who have joint problems, heart condition or are taking any medications for blood pressure should approach HIIT with caution.

It's highly unlikely for you to include HIIT in your training routine if you want to be a power lifter.

Just like playing cricket won’t help you develop your skill at playing football.

It’s important for you to identify your goal and train yourself accordingly.

Myth 4: All exercises are well-suited for HIIT

You cannot use all the exercises for HIIT training.

In order to achieve true high intensity, it’s always better to use full-body movements like burpees which make it taxing for your cardiovascular system and help you build strength and endurance.

Recruiting lots of muscle groups together in a high intensity manner is the essence of HIIT.

Single joint movements like bicep curl don’t generally offer the benefits of total body conditioning and hence are not recommended to be included as a part of your HIIT workout routine.

Myth 5: HIIT needs fancy equipment

No equipment? No Problem!

You can just use your own body as a tool to perform HIIT workouts.

As said above, the idea is to get your heart rate as high as possible in short period of time.

Exercises like bodyweight squats, walking lunges, push-ups, burpees etc can be very well incorporated as a part of your HIIT training routine.

Video tutorials of various exercises are available on Fittr App, you can make your own workout plan and follow it.

Myth 6: HIIT is the only way to lose weight

We all know how a well-designed weight training programme can significantly increase your strength, power, athletic performance and physical appearance both in men and women.

We also know how important the role of muscle mass is in a fat loss process.

More the muscle mass, more calories you burn even at rest.

HIIT, as a training protocol doesn’t specifically focus on building muscle.

Also, your diet plays a very important role when you are trying to lose weight.

Being in a state of calorie deficit (consuming less energy than what you burn in a day) coupled with a good combination of strength and interval training will yield you better results than just focusing on HIIT and eating at your will.

Myth 7: HIIT is the same as SMIT

A lot of people misinterpret SMIT (Supramaximal Interval Training) as HIIT.

SMIT involves high intensity workouts coupled with complete rest intervals unlike HIIT where the high intensity workout periods are coupled with low to moderate intensity rest intervals.

I don’t deny the benefits of HIIT but it’s important for you to make sure that you don’t neglect the other effective training methods and obsess over one.

Strength or weight training, HIIT, steady state cardio, supramaximal interval training, all have their unique benefits and limitations.

The best way to incorporate a particular training protocol in your routine is to be goal specific.

Identify your goal and accordingly incorporate your workout routine.

 Lead image published for representational purposes only.

Amogh Gadewar is health coach, Fittr, a subsidiary of SQUATS, a community of enthusiasts who aim to address the challenges in the fitness industry, share information and help people stay healthy.

Amogh Gadewar
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