If you’re a fitness enthusiast with an internet connection, chances are you’ve stumbled across an exercise protocol that’s here to stay – High-Intensity Interval Training. The reason why HIIT isn’t just a passing trend is that it’s heavily backed by science. It’ll do wonders for your metabolism, speed up your fat-loss and significantly increase your maximal aerobic capacity. Not only is HIIT effective, but it really is a godsend for people who don’t have time to go to the gym, enroll in a class or do long endurance training.
For those who are not familiar with the concept of HIIT, prepare yourselves for a crash course: HIIT workout involves periods of high-intensity cardio exercises followed by a low-intensity recovery period. This change in the dynamic during the exercise has proven to be just as effective as endurance training when it comes to health and weight loss.
However, as with any trend, when a lot of people adopt it and start doing it, mistakes happen. Most people think they’re doing HIIT when in fact they’re doing a slightly harder version of traditional cardio. So without further ado, here are top 8 mistakes you’re probably doing that can hinder your fitness goals.
1. You’re not doing warm-up right
Let’s get this straight right away – HIIT is no easy ride. Depending on the specific exercise, it can cause a lot of stress to your joints, especially if you fail to warm up properly. Most HIIT workouts out there come with a short warm-up and an even shorter cool-down sequence. Our advice is to do the warm-up for at least 6 minutes before actually going into your HIIT. As a Metafit participant our coaches are taught the importance of mobility/ dynamic based warm ups. This will prepare your body and mind correctly and greatly decrease your chances of injury.
2. Going for too long
HIIT should be relatively short (anywhere between 6 and 24 minutes) and explosive. Even if you could do it for longer than 24 minutes, please don’t! After the 24-minute mark, the stress on your joints will not be worth the benefits of those extra 10 minutes you’re trying to fit in. Remember: results come from consistency, not a one-time workout that’ll leave you drained and overstressed.
3. Not going all-in
Look, if you’re going to commit to HIIT, you have to give it your all to reap all the amazing benefits it has to offer. After each work interval, you should be fighting for your breath, legs trembling, wishing to gulp down a gallon of water. If the interval ends and you feel like you could do the exercise for a while longer – increase your intensity. Recovery periods are called that for a reason!
4. Not listening to your body during recovery periods
We’re all individuals and each body is different. That’s why it’s so hard to track hormones, calorie burning, energy levels and so forth. But in order to deliver a comprehensive workout, most HIIT workouts will follow a certain length of recovery periods – they usually last from 10 to 30 seconds. This might not be enough for your body to actually recover, meaning you won’t be able to do the next high-intensity period with 90-100% maximum heart rate, essentially rendering the rest of the workout worthless (for HIIT benefits). If you need an extra 10 seconds to feel prepared to give it your all again, take them. Nothing will change, except for your performance – that’ll skyrocket.
5. Overcomplicating your exercises
Believe it or not, despite what various Instagram fitness gurus are telling you, you don’t have to do a burpee followed by a pushup, a tuck-jump and a kickboxing move to do HIIT. Complicated moves can easily compromise your form, especially as you near the end of the workout. That’s when most injuries happen. You can do a mind-blowing HIIT workout, just by switching between jogging and sprints. Choose moves you’re confident you can perform right even when you’re extremely tired, especially if you’re a HIIT newbie!
6. Not working from the ground up
The fact that a good HIIT workout lasts from 6-24 minutes doesn’t mean you should start with 24! Give your body a chance to adapt to this new kind of stress before overworking it. If you start slow and do 6-minute HIITs for the first 2-3 weeks and slowly increase the workout time, you’ll increase your chances to stick to this type of workout!
7. Doing it more than 2-3 times per week
The logic behind recovery period during your HIIT workouts can be applied to recovery days as well. You can’t force your body to achieve more than it realistically can. Doing HIIT even 3 times per week can be too much for everyone who isn’t a professional athlete. Start with implementing HIIT 1-2 times per week and slowly progress to two times per week after a couple of months. Do endurance training, yoga or weight lifting during ’rest’ days. Believe us, with HIIT, less is more in the long run.
8. Not doing HIIT with a certified coach or trainer.
Forget the social gurus, youtube videos and apps - you simply won’t be doing HIIT right! There is NO substitute for seeing a professional Metafit HIIT coach or personal trainer on a regular basis to get the most out of every HIIT workout. These highly skilled, qualified and motivated individuals ensure your body is prepared, your technique is safe and you maximise your effort and recovery.
Find a coach, get to a class, listen to them and work hard - you won’t regret it.