HIIT is an intense form of exercise that has been gaining popularity over the past few years. But is it really beneficial, or is HIIT bad for you?
HIIT has been getting a lot of hype lately as the most effective way to burn fat and lose weight fast, but as with any exercise, there are some downsides to HIIT that you should be aware of before you start using it your only form of exercise. Luckily, these downsides are pretty easy to avoid if you know about them ahead of time, so let’s take a look at them now!
The Downsides of HIIT
When you do a lot of high-intensity exercise in a short period, you’re putting stress on your body. This is good because it can increase your cardio capacity, but it also has some downsides that you should be aware of.
One of these downsides is that it can increase your risk of injury. When you push yourself beyond what’s comfortable, you’re going to be more likely to injure yourself while exercising.
Another downside of high-intensity interval training is that it can interfere with your endurance if you make it a regular part of your workouts. When you’re putting your body through all that stress, it’s hard to recover from day to day.
That said, high-intensity interval training does have some valuable benefits. It can help you burn more calories than steady-state exercise. It can also be less stressful on your body if you’re only doing it occasionally. It’s just important to keep these downsides in mind if you’re considering adding high-intensity interval training to your workout regimen.
To be clear, high-intensity interval training is not bad for you; it’s just something that can have some adverse effects if you overdo it. If you only want to do high-intensity interval training once in a while, that’s fine.
But if you want to add high-intensity interval training to your workout routine regularly, it’s a good idea to start with shorter workouts and slowly work your way up. You can also space them out if you just do one or two high-intensity interval training sessions per week. That way, your body will have time to recover in between. The goal is to reduce your risk of injury as much as possible.
Too Much of a Good Thing
While there’s no question that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an excellent way to lose weight and burn calories quickly, it also comes with some downsides. If you decide to begin incorporating HIIT into your routine, there are a few downsides you should know about and avoid at all costs.
Too much high-intensity interval training is bad because it can lead to overtraining, which results in burnout and missed workouts. Working out too intensely and for too long can make you more susceptible to illness and injury as well. Furthermore, regularly working out isn’t healthy; your body needs rest days to repair muscle damage and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Take at least one rest day per week as a general rule of thumb.
Do you need to take a rest day or two every week if you’re planning on incorporating high-intensity interval training into your routine? Absolutely! As long as you avoid these downsides and listen to your body, you can reap all of high-intensity interval training’s benefits without feeling like it’s bad for you.
Additionally, don’t forget that while you can lose weight and increase your cardiovascular endurance through high-intensity interval training, it won’t result in substantial muscle growth. If you want to add more muscle definition to your body, you’ll need to incorporate strength training into your routine too. That being said, high-intensity interval training is an excellent way to get in shape quickly—especially if you lack time for more traditional forms of exercise!
To sum it up, high-intensity interval training is an effective way to lose weight, increase your cardiovascular endurance and gain muscle definition quickly. Just remember that if you want to experience all of its benefits, you should avoid working out too intensely, for too long, or on consecutive days.
What happens when you do too much HIIT
When you do too much high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body will burn through all of its glycogen stores. When that happens, your body can use fat as a fuel source. However, because you’re exercising so intensely, it might take a day or two to replenish your glycogen stores. Once you do, though, you’ll find that fat has become your go-to energy source because carbs are in short supply.
While too much HIIT is bad, it isn’t dangerous. Although you’ll need to cut back on your workout intensity if you do too much and burn through all of your glycogen stores, that’s not an irreversible situation. A moderate amount of steady-state cardio will help restore your glycogen levels in time for your next workout.
The real danger with too much HIIT is that it can lead to injuries. Because you’re working out so intensely, your body is prone to get hurt. If you work out without proper rest and recovery or without stretching properly before and after workouts, then you’re putting yourself at risk of sprains, strains, and even muscle tears.
Additionally, your risk of injury increases if you increase your workout frequency. Doing more than two workouts per week can lead to overuse injuries, especially if you don’t allow your body to recover between sessions.
How often should you do HIIT?
The real downside of HIIT is that it’s addictive. If you push yourself to your limits every time, or if you only do high-intensity workouts a few times a week, you could end up overtraining and burnout faster than you can say water break. Even worse, when you perform too much intense exercise without proper recovery time in between sessions, your adrenal glands release excess cortisol—the stress hormone that promotes belly fat storage—and testosterone levels plummet.
A good rule of thumb is to do no more than 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise a day, three days a week. To reap these benefits and stay safe, stick to workouts that last no longer than 10 minutes. This gives your body a chance to rest and recover in between sessions so you don’t overdo it—and possibly injure yourself. Plus, at that length, you can still get an effective workout before or after your morning commute.
While there are benefits to short and intense exercise, some people take that advice too far. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that alternates short bursts of high-intensity anaerobic exercise with low-intensity recovery periods. While HIIT can provide many benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity and increased aerobic fitness, overdoing it can lead to injuries like sprains and strains and stress fractures.
Finding the Right Balance
Since high-intensity interval training is a rather new form of exercise, no major studies have examined its long-term impact on health. However, most people know that working out too much can be just as bad as not working out enough—if you push yourself too hard, you might experience overexertion, which in extreme cases can lead to injury or illness. The same can be said of HIIT.
The same thing goes for HIIT. If you push yourself too hard, you could experience overexertion, resulting in injury or illness. To avoid overexertion, it’s best to start with a lower-intensity form of exercise (such as walking) and slowly work your way up to more vigorous activity over time.
Additionally, you should aim to complete your high-intensity interval training workouts no more than twice per week.
Just as with any other form of exercise, it’s best to start with a lower-intensity workout (such as walking) and slowly work your way up to more vigorous activity over time. For example, if you’re just beginning a walking program, aim to walk 20 minutes per day. After two weeks, try adding five minutes each day until you’re up to an hour of daily walking.
If you’re in good shape and have a solid fitness foundation, it’s possible to participate in high-intensity interval training workouts more frequently. However, if you’re just beginning an exercise program or not very active, aim to work out no more than twice per week.
While you may be worried about spending too much time exercising or training, it’s important to note that overexertion can be harmful. If you push yourself too hard, you could experience fatigue, muscle soreness, and injury.
If high-intensity interval training isn’t for you—whether due to physical limitations or personal preference—there are still plenty of ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
If you’re interested in high-intensity interval training but you don’t have time to get to a gym, there are plenty of at-home alternatives. For example, if you run on a treadmill, try running outdoors instead. Try incorporating a yoga or Pilates class into your weekly workout routine if you participate in strength training.