How Much HIIT Per Week
In recent years, high intensity interval training (HIIT) has taken the fitness world by storm. Fitness coaches, professional athletes, and fitness enthusiasts alike are all incorporating more of this training style into their workout routines. Not to mention, they are also yielding some incredible results!
As more and more people are jumping on the HIIT bandwagon, it begs the question…How much HIIT per week should you be doing? How much is too much? Before we dive into the specifics of how often we should do it, let’s look at what it is and what the benefits are.
What is high intensity interval training?
As the name suggests, HIIT is a workout that incorporates quick explosions of energy and intensity with short periods of rest. Because the idea is to go as hard as you can for certain spurts of time, they are generally very short, only lasting 20-30 minutes.
Most people typically regard high intensity interval training as a cardio workout where your heart rate can really soar. The goal during your short intervals is to go as hard as you can. Because of this, your heart rate will rise at fast speeds, reaching upwards of 80-90% of your max heart rate. That is why this workout also has short durations of complete rest to level out your heart before gearing up for another round of intensity. It’s because of the high intensity level that we have to consider how much HIIT per week should we be doing?
One of the most obvious benefits to incorporating this challenging workout into your typical routine is because it improves your fitness and endurance. For years, professional runners have been using HIIT training. It serves as a change in routine for these runners, but that’s not all. Because of this change, it results in them being able to run longer distances at a time.
Improves Heart Health
While we associate most forms of exercises with improved heart health, doing HIIT has proven to show significant improvements in a shorter amount of time. So, essentially, with HIIT, you are getting better improvements in your heart health in less amount of time! Talk about a win-win!
Good for Everyone
While HIIT requires a great deal of energy, everyone’s efforts will vary. Depending on your level of fitness, what you consider being intense differs from others. Because of this, HIIT is a workout easy to modify and works great with anyone, no matter where they are in their fitness journey!
For example, if one of your sets requires 20 seconds of burpees, a more advanced athlete may do a traditional burpee while someone starting out may eliminate the jumping aspect. Both are doing their best and giving max effort. Both are also reaping amazing benefits for where they are at in their fitness journey.
Efficient Use of Time
As we stated before, high interval intensity training is a fast and effective workout, thus it’s an efficient use of your time. Maybe you’re a mom who only has 15 minutes during nap time? Or maybe you can only carve out 20 minutes before work?
No matter who you are, if you only have a small window of time to workout, making it a HIIT session will get you the most results in the fastest way possible!
You Don’t Need a Gym
So, not only is it a quick workout easy to modify for anyone, you can also do it pretty much anywhere! Because HIIT is cardio focused, most workouts only require body weight exercises. All you need for a good session is 20 minutes, a great attitude, and a little space.
Risks In Doing Too Much HIIT?
We know what you may think….These sound just too good to be true! There’s got to be something wrong with high intensity interval training!
You have every right to be skeptical! But, as you’ll see in the potential risks, there are very few, and we can prevent them. So, if you train smart and incorporate HIIT responsibly, you just may reap all the amazing benefits with little to no risks or negatives!
As with any exercise, there is always a risk for obtaining an injury. There are many ways that you could become injured from HIIT including: improper form and not listening to your body.
When you are working in very strenuous intervals where you are giving 100%, your form may suffer. As with anything, the more tired you become, the less you pay attention to the smaller details of your exercise routine. But because HIIT requires so much from you, you’ve got to make sure you don’t sacrifice good form for more reps. Because if you do, you just may set yourself up for an injury.
Another way to prevent injury when working HIIT into your workout regime is by listening to your body. If something feels tight or if something doesn’t feel right, always err on the side of caution. Yes, you want to get in as many reps as possible during your interval, but make sure you are listening to your body. Three extra reps is not worth an injury if you know something doesn’t feel right.
Aside from the risk of injury, you may also run into the risk of overtraining when doing too much HIIT. Signs of overtraining include:
- Persistent muscle soreness
- Extreme fatigue
- Performance decline
- Mood swings
- Interrupted sleep cycles
- Interrupted menstruation cycle (for women)
One of the biggest and best ways to prevent any of the inherent risks of HIIT are to make sure you are not overtraining. So, this leads us to our question at the beginning….How much HIIT per week should you be doing?
We want to find the magical fitness sweet spot where you are doing enough to reap all the amazing benefits while not doing it so much that you suffer from any of the risks listed above.
How Much HIIT Per Week Should You Be Doing?
Although HIIT requires so little of your actual time, it packs quite the punch in terms of effect on your body. Because of this, it’s easy to accidentally over do it.
In recent years, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Jinger Gottschall has conducted research on this very topic. She found that the sweet spot of HIIT training was around 30-40 minutes per week.
Thus, if you prefer doing a 20 minute HIIT workout, you could incorporate two into your routine, but if you do a 30 minute one, you should just stop there.
This is because when we do high intensity workouts, our body is temporarily under stress, releasing cortisol and other hormones. While some are great for your performance and wellbeing, too much can have a detrimental effect on your health.
Now we know how much HIIT per week you should be doing. So, by following these guidelines, you will receive all the positive benefits of this fast-acting form of exercise while eliminating your risks of overtraining and injury!