HIIT or Quit? Why High Intensity Exercise aka a HIIT Workout is falling out of favour according to Ryan Atkin Founder and Head Coach at Real World Results
HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, has been a popular form of exercise for many years, with a lot of misinterpretation. A lot of people assume a HIIT workout is the only effective way to lose weight and get fitter.
Whilst HIIT can absolutely be beneficial for weight loss, fat burn and improving fitness levels, the truth is, HIIT simply isn’t for everyone. In fact, a HIIT workout can do more damage than good, in some cases.
Here are the pros and cons of HIIT:
Con #1 Elevated Stress and Cortisol Levels
With stress and anxiety levels at an all-time high, a HIIT workout can keep your body in a constant high state of stress, and intensely impact your nervous system.
This can lead to additional stress on the body and an increase in cortisol, which can mean an exacerbation of anxiety and stress.
Being able to balance exercise and activities that actively lower the stress hormones and sooth our nervous system, such as yoga, meditation, or gentle walking, can be more effective than HIIT, depending on your goals.
READ MORE: Lacking motivation? 3 reasons group workouts may boost your mental health
Con #2 Overuse Injuries
Much of HIIT workouts involve high-impact exercises such as jumping, sprinting, and plyometrics which can put a lot of stress on your joints and muscles.
Over time, this can lead to overuse injuries such as tendonitis, stress fractures, and muscle strains. If you’re prone to injuries or are coming back from an injury, HIIT might not be quite right for you and could do more damage than good.
Con #3 Lack of Variety
HIIT workouts typically involve a few different exercises repeated in intervals, which can become monotonous over time. Some people may find it difficult to stay motivated and engaged in their workouts if they feel like they’re doing the same thing repeatedly.
they feel like they’re doing the same thing repeatedly
To keep your workout routine varied, online coaching can be extremely beneficial, mixing things up on a regular basis and preventing plateaus.
Online programmes like Real World Results combine one-to-one training support with advanced mindset coaching to ensure you stay committed to your health and fitness goals and on track to achieve them, and so much more.
READ MORE: 5 healthy chocolate alternatives for your never-ending sweet tooth
Con #4 Not Suitable for Everyone
HIIT workouts can be very challenging, and therefore they won’t be appropriate for everyone. People with certain health conditions such as heart disease may not be able to handle the intensity.
Always seek help and opinion from a professional before embarking on a new fitness journey if you suffer from chronic health conditions.
Going too hard too fast can result in injuries
Additionally, people who are just starting out with exercise may find a HIIT workout too challenging and should start with lower intensity workouts. Going too hard too fast can result in injuries and make taking part in regular exercise seem unsustainable.
Con #5 Time Constraints
While HIIT workouts are designed to be short and intense, they may not be practical for everyone. Some people may prefer longer workouts that allow them to settle into a routine and really get into the flow of proper exercise.
Con #6 Burnout
HIIT workouts can be effective for weight loss and improving fitness, but they can also be very intense and demanding. Over time, some people may experience burnout and lose motivation to continue with their workouts.
READ MORE: 7 practical sleep tips your circadian rhythm will thank you for
However, HIIT isn’t entirely a bad idea, here are some of the benefits:
Pro #1 Time Efficient
HIIT workouts are typically shorter in duration than traditional steady-state cardio workouts but can burn a similar number of calories.
This makes them a great option for people who have limited time to exercise. HIIT workouts can be effective in as little as 10 to 15 minutes with most HIIT workouts not exceeding 30 to 45 minutes.
Pro #2 Increased Cardiovascular Fitness
HIIT workouts challenge your cardiovascular system and can lead to improvements in your overall cardiovascular fitness, this is due to the fact you are aiming to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, rather than taking it easier for a longer amount of time.
HIIT will ultimately be improving your cardiovascular fitness at a much quicker pace than steadier state exercise.
READ MORE: Training for women – 7 reasons women should eat & train differently to men
Pro #3 Increased Metabolic Rate
HIIT workouts can boost your metabolic rate, meaning that you can continue to burn calories even when you’re finished exercising.
Several research studies have focused on HIIT and the effect it has on our metabolic rate, finding that HIIT has the incredible ability to increase metabolic rate for hours after you’ve finished exercising, which means you are burning more calories following a HIIT workout.
Pro #4 Improved Insulin Sensitivity
HIIT workouts can improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.
During HIIT your fast twitch muscle fibres will be doing most of the work, and they will stimulate your muscles and take the glucose from your blood to be used as fuel, resulting in blood glucose to decrease.
READ MORE: ‘Ditch FAD diets’ says Dr Michael Mosley – plus 7 healthy recipes for the New Year
Pro #5 Improved Body Composition
HIIT workouts can help to build lean muscle mass whilst also burning fat, leading to improved body composition.
When it comes to abdominal or belly fat, studies have found that HIIT can reduce both visceral fat, which is the fat you cannot see around your organs and subcutaneous fat, which is the fat under the skin.
Overall, HIIT workouts can be effective and efficient to improve your fitness levels and achieve your health and fitness goals.
However, it’s important to approach HIIT workouts safely and gradually, and to choose a routine that is appropriate for your fitness level and individual needs. It’s important to choose a workout routine that is safe, effective, and sustainable for your individual needs and goals.
it’s important to approach HIIT workouts safely and gradually, and to choose a routine that is appropriate for your fitness level
At Real World Results, we encourage clients to focus on good form and technique through a proper resistance training programme with adequate rest to allow them to recover and change their body shape optimally, as well as additional cardio for improved fitness and overall health. Usually this will consist in the form of LISS (Low Intensity Steady State Cardio) such as 30 minutes on the stair master or run.
The best way to improve fitness levels and lead a healthier life is to combine a high protein, nutritious diet with a structured and progressive resistance trying programme and alongside some form of cardio (whether it be HIIT or LISS).
The Healthista Menopause Pack is a fully comprehensive online video workshop, led by Dr Dawn Harper; affordable, accessible and covering all aspects of the menopause, for those who need it most.
With expert advice and information from seven credible menopause industry experts, we hope that this online resource will help women navigate common health and wellness changes and challenges they may experience before, after and during the menopause.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.