Common Mistakes That Could Ruin Your HIIT Workout

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Joe Dispenza
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HIIT (high intensity training) training seems to be the trend of the month in the fitness world - and it's not hard to see why. A type of workout that can be done in conjunction with an already demanding training program is invaluable, and for many people, doing 20 minutes of strenuous activity is much easier than engaging in an hour of "slow" cardio.

Before starting HIIT training for the first time, it is important that you are properly prepared and careful not to make the following common mistakes. We met Abigail Stacey (@workoutwabi_powerlifter), a physiologist at Nuffield Health with a degree in Exercise, to hear her best advice on this.



Putting yourself into HIIT training efficiently without making common mistakes will not only increase results, but may also help prevent injuries.

1. Make sure you are ready

Before even starting your chosen HIIT workout, Abigail recommends checking that you are ready for the challenge.

“You should be able to sustain 65-75% of your maximum heart rate for 30 minutes before starting HIIT. This can be predicted by calculating 220 minus your age, for example if you are 25, your maximum heart rate will be around 220 - 25 = 195 “.

It is also essential that you take the time to warm up before starting.

2. Less is more

The point of a HIIT workout is that you are working your body intensely for short periods of time.

A general rule of thumb is a 3: 1 ratio of exercise to rest, for example, 45 seconds of jumping holds, followed by 15 second rest. And you shouldn't be doing more than 30 minutes of these intervals.



“The maximum time for HIIT can range from 4 minutes (like the Tabata workout) to 15 minutes, with 30 minutes being the maximum recommended duration. Anything over 30 minutes can increase the risk of injury, and it's much better to work harder for less time. "

3. Don't Overdo It

Following the previous point, you should give your body adequate rest between HIIT workouts. You may be tempted to complete a HIIT session every day of the week because it's so easy to fit into your routine and it doesn't seem like a lot of time to work out, but you need to give your muscles time to recover. "2-3 HIIT sessions per week are enough and if you have 24 hours of rest between sessions your body will recover and you will decrease the risk of injury."

Not putting in the right recovery time could slow down your results in the long run - and nobody wants to do burpees for nothing!

4. When to train?

Being able to train at any time of the day is great, right? Well, maybe not. According to Abigail, you could get more out of training depending on when you do it.

“HIIT in the morning increases the thermogenic effect in the body which increases the length of time you burn calories during the day. Late night HIIT can make it harder for you to fall asleep as your body awakens - more relaxing exercises in the evening, such as yoga or Pilates, are recommended.


It seems like it might be more helpful to set the alarm twenty minutes earlier in the morning rather than squeezing the HIIT session after dinner.


5. Training and Nutrition

As with all exercises, you can get more out of your body if you've filled it with the right fuel beforehand - and even after, to aid recovery. That said, it's probably not wise to train on a full stomach either, so make sure you have time to take in the nutrients so you have a chance to digest everything properly.


Eating carbohydrates after a HIIT workout is important, as muscle glycogen stores are depleted due to intense activity.


Not to be forgotten

By following these tips, you should be ready to give it your all in your next HIIT session! Remember that it might be counterproductive to push yourself to dangerous levels but also keep in mind that this type of training tests your body's limits - so if you're not completely out of breath and very sweaty at the end, you're not going strong enough.


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