Are you doing your HIIT workouts the right way? Here are 5 HIIT workout tips to keep you healthy, injury free, and moving strong
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We all know the amazing benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts: improved work capacities, higher post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC = post-exercise fat-burning), and time efficiency (perfect for time-crunched people!).
But with all the wonderful things high intensity interval training can do, HIIT carries higher injury risk as well. There are some best practices for doing HIIT workouts so you can keep moving strong and improving your fitness with lower risk of injury. Many of these HIIT workout tips are from lectures I attended at IDEA World that were led by exercise physiologists. These tips are research-based and practical!
If you’re new to adding HIIT to your workouts, you’ll probably have sore muscles for a while! Make sure that you give your body proper rest it needs and some BioFreeze® Professional to help with achy muscles. Here are 5 HIIT workout tips to keep you moving strong:
1. Start HIIT gradually
Don’t go all out if you have never done HIIT workouts before OR if you haven’t done them in a while (like coming back from an injury). It’s tempting to give it 110% during HIIT workouts, but you need to pace yourself in the beginning and give your body a chance to adapt by building up to higher work intensities and work loads.
Everyone can do interval workouts, they just need to be scaled to fit each person. Start out with MIIT (moderate intensity interval training) rather than full HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts.
Make it work for YOUR fitness level and build up from there with consistency and manageable progressions each week. For example, if you are new to HIIT, you can start by doing 15 minute HIIT workouts one time each week at a 30 second work interval and a 1 minute recovery interval.
As you progress, you can adjust the workload by 1) adding more days per week, 2) adding more time to your workouts, 3) adjusting your work/rest ratios, or 4) increasing the intensity of your work intervals. BUT you should not increase all those variables at once! Pick one to progress and go from there.
2. Don’t do more than 3 HIIT workouts each week
Are there people who do HIIT workouts more than that? Probably. But our goal is to workout smarter, not necessarily harder.
To maximize performance and limit injuries, cap your HIIT workouts at no more than three each week. This helps prevent overuse and stress injuries and allows your body time to adequately recover.
If you are completely exhausted or you’re sick, it’s okay to put off the high intensity HIIT workouts for another day and focus on recovering. Incorporate these recovery techniques into your routine and use some Biofreeze®Professional for muscle soreness. Your body will thank you!
3. Recover Adequately during the HIIT workout
You MUST make adequate time for recovery in HIIT workouts. The whole point of interval workouts is to RAISE and LOWER your heart rate. If you don’t allow yourself enough time in the rest phase to let your heart rate drop noticeably, than it’s not really an interval workout, it’s just a high intensity cardio workout.
Plan enough time in the recovery phases of the workout to bring your heart rate down significantly. As your fitness level improves, this recovery period won’t take as long, but as a general rule of thumb, the harder you work in the work phase, the longer the recovery phase. True HIIT training includes adequate recovery phases within the workout.
4. Combine HIIT and regular cardio
Researchers have found that combining HIIT and regular cardio in one session helps to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis (creation of new mitochondria, the power houses of your muscles), increasing your body’s production of ATP at peak performance later on = better athletic performance!
Example: complete 15 minutes of HIIT (after an adequate warm-up) followed by 15 minutes of steady state cardio. Finish with a cool-down.
5. Try VIIT
VIIT stands for variable intensity interval training. Instead of doing the exact same intervals during the whole workout, vary the intensity or length or the work/rest segments of your workout for a change of pace. Fartleks are a great example of a running VIIT workout, intervals vary depending on where you are (sprint to the lamp post, walk to the stop sign, etc.).
Example: You can begin your VIIT workout with shorter work intervals to ease your body into higher work loads, then peak your work segment intensities toward the middle of your workout, then again taper them off as you begin to near the end of your workout, finishing with a cool down.
Biofreeze® Professional pain relief
If you’re stepping up your fitness game by adding HIIT, MIIT, or VIIT workouts to your routine, Biofreeze® Professional is great for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains due to sore joints and muscles we often get from increasing the intensity of our workouts. In addition to being available in stores, Biofreeze® Professional is available from healthcare professionals, as an optimized, longer-lasting and smoother application product
Biofreeze® Professional is a safe and effective way to bring temporary relief to those minor aches and pains without NSAIDS, narcotics, or salicylates. In fact, Biofreeze® Professional has been shown to be just as effective as ice for treating pain, but it’s much more convenient and portable.
There are several types of Biofreeze® Professional products available: the Biofreeze® retail version can be found at your favorite retailer, the Biofreeze® Professional must be purchased through your hands-on healthcare professional.
You can choose to get the green or dye-free formulas for Biofreeze®, and it is available as a spray, gel, or roll-on. The roll-on is personally one of my favorites since there’s no mess and it’s easy to take and use anywhere you go (perfect for your gym bag).
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist