Because we're almost always crunched for time and hitting the gym isn't most people’s first choice of how they'd like to spend their free time, the more efficient we can be with our exercise routine, the better!
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, workouts are a great way to get a challenging workout in when you're short on time. They're fast and efficient for improving your aerobic fitness (aka your cardio) and health compared to traditional steady-state cardio like distance running or walking.
Although it's a great workout, HIIT wasn’t meant to be done every day. If you’re working out with that level of intensity 5, 6, or 7 times a week, you might actually be doing it wrong or worse - it might actually be stopping you from reaching your fitness goals.
In this article, we will help answer the top questions we hear about HIIT workouts and help you find the frequency best for you. Ready? Let's go!
What is HIIT?
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, involves exerting maximal physical effort for a specific number of reps or time (typically less than two minutes long) followed by a period of active recovery or rest.
By cycling between tough exertion and lighter movements, HIIT has been proven to be one of the most time-efficient ways to exercise!
These workouts typically last between 15-45 minutes, meaning you can knock out an efficient workout in a short period of time. HIIT workouts are most known for giving excellent results fast because the movements are able to target lots of different muscle groups and will have you burning calories both during and after your workout.
How Often Should I do HIIT Workouts?
Although we would love to be able to give you one simple number, the answer to how many HIIT workouts you should do a week isn't that simple.
Finding the right amount depends on several factors, like your fitness level, your goals, and your schedule. We put together these guidelines to help you find a general amount that can keep you in the sweet spot of how many HIIT workouts you should do a week:
If you're new to the gym or haven't done many HIIT-style workouts before, start with one or two HIIT workouts a week. Plan to have at least one day of rest in between these two workouts to give your body plenty of time to recover and adapt to this new workout type!
Are you familiar with HIIT workouts or just slightly more comfortable committing to a high-intensity workout? Then you could probably handle increasing your frequency to two or three times per week. Again you'll want to plan at least one day of rest in between!
If you're highly fit and have been doing HIIT workouts for a long time, your body may be able to handle four to five HIIT workouts per week. BUT, it's important that you listen to your body and take necessary recovery steps like stretching, proper nutrition, and getting sufficient sleep to avoid adding any extra injury risks.
Who Shouldn't Do HIIT Workouts?
HIIT is an excellent type of workout that can be adjusted to fit the needs and fitness abilities of almost anyone. But there are some people that should avoid doing HIIT workouts until their health increases, like anyone that is:
- Injured / Recovering from recent surgery
- Pregnant / Early PostPartum
- Immune Suppressed or Sick
- Suffering from Osteoporosis
- Brand new to exercise or has no foundation of knowledge for how to safely perform exercise basics (ex. squats, lunges, planks, etc...)
What Happens if I Do Too Much HIIT?
The biggest risk of doing too many HIIT workouts is injury. The chances of you getting injured from overtraining are through the roof if you don't give your muscles the time to repair and grow! Not to mention, you can also risk mental burnout from only doing HIIT workouts.
If you do too much HIIT, your mind eventually will start to lag during these quick workouts. You'll feel fatigued and not look forward to working out as you did before. If you're not mentally invested or able to focus on your workout, it can hurt your performance by affecting your form during the workout itself or by preventing you from working out at all!
Overall, how frequently you should do HIIT workouts is ultimately determined by your goals, fitness level, and schedule. If you're just getting started or want to make sure you have enough time to recover between workouts, you should start with 1 to 2 HIIT workouts weekly until your body adjusts and can handle more.
But no matter what, it's most important to listen to your body, take rest days, and combine your HIIT workouts with other types of activities for a well-rounded workout plan.