YMCA of Greater Erie

HIIT: FIVE WAYS TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT
By Sarah Shortt for Fit Planet

When it comes to improving your fitness, HIIT is a great training modality for making fast gains in record time. To get the transformative results you need to be going all-out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean just pumping your arms and legs as fast as possible for as long as you can. Follow these five must-dos to ensure you’re getting the most out of your training.

  1. Make sure you warm up

HIIT is demanding, so it’s imperative that you structure a warm up into the workout to ensure your neuromuscular connections are firing and your body is prepared for the coming intensity. If you skip this essential segment, you increase your likelihood of injury and you may not be able to hit your max effort as quickly. Include dynamic, functional movements which are going to be similar to the movements in your workout.

  1. Go hard

Science shows that you need to be pushing your maximum heart rate to above 90 percent in every interval to achieve the results. Wearing a device that monitors your heart rate is ideal, but if you don’t own one you can use the rate of perceived exertion scale (RPE) as a guide – meaning how hard you feel you are working. On a scale of zero to 10, with zero being asleep and 10 feeling like your heart is going to explode, you should be aiming for 8 or 9. You should be breathless, your muscles should be burning, and even if someone offered you $1,000,000 to keep going for another five seconds, you couldn’t do it.

  1. Structure recoveries into the workout

Make sure you allow enough recovery between the intervals to enable you to produce a high level of force or intensity in the next one. If you cut your rest periods short, you can’t go as hard when it’s time to work again, and therefore you won’t achieve the desired results.

  1. Keep it short and simple

If the movements are too complex, you’re going to be sacrificing the intensity because you’re naturally going to be slowing down to achieve the movement. Choose a simple movement pattern that isn’t going to overload your brain, and can easily be repeated. A move such as a squat jump or high knee run is easy to master and uses lots of compound muscles to ramp up the intensity.

  1. Don’t HIIT it too often

The key thing to achieving results with HIIT is to remember that less is actually more. Be careful not to be training in the HIIT zone for more than 40 minutes a week – ideally spread over two sessions with two sleeps between sessions. Science shows if you’re doing HIIT every day you’re likely to actually reduce your results and increase your risk of injury. Remember, HIIT is just one component of your training regime, it shouldn’t make up the majority of your sessions.