HIIT: Matters of Time

September 1, 2018
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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is here to stay at CKO Kickboxing. But too many people think that HIIT is a combination of high intensity, high volume exercises and, thus, spend too much time on it. As a matter of fact, HIIT is about high intensity, low volume exercises for maximum benefits.  

So, how much time is too little and too much in HIIT? Let’s take a look at the factors that affect it.

30 Minutes Is Ideal

We have seen people who engage in 60 minutes, even longer, on HIIT workouts in the belief that the longer the time, the more hardcore it is. But this is a mistake on many levels including the increased risk of injury with high intensity exercises performed for a prolonged period.

Experts say that 30 minutes is the optimal time for HIIT. If you can work out for longer than 30 minutes, then either your HIIT workout isn’t truly high intensity or you weren’t working out hard enough. The HIIT goal is to push your body to unsustainable intensities without causing injury – and 30 minutes of intense activity meets the brief.  

If you are in an HIIT class, you will be out of breathe after 10 minutes but you should still be able to carry on. You will have brief periods of active rest, too, so you can catch your breath and prepare your body for the next burst.  

Adding More Time Doesn’t Give More Results

You may be thinking, “But why stick to the 30-minute recommendation when you can add more layers of intense intervals for longer and harder workouts?” You may have a point but you will not be getting as much benefit as you thought you would. Think of it as putting in more work but getting little extra gain for it, not to mention that you’re wasting your time.  

Why does this happen? As your body adjusts to the longer period, you also decrease the intensity of your workout. You are spending more time but you’re not getting the expected extra benefits – and you’re also increasing your risk of injury because you’re pushing your body to unsustainable levels for extended periods.

The bottom line: Stick to 30-minute HIIT workouts under the direction of a personal trainer or fitness instructor. You should always listen to your body so that you can stay within safe limits yet still get your desired fitness results.

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