Five years ago HIIT was an acronym few could translate. Cut to 2018 and high-intensity interval training is an institution for those who want to get really fit, really fast. That’s because HIIT training for fat loss has been certified in studies the world over.
Here in the UK, you can find a class in most nationwide gyms and studios. Or for those short of time – or gym membership – you can ramp up your sweat by following one of the best home workouts on YouTube.
However, the speedy, heart rate-boosting nature of HIIT training means there’s plenty of opportunity to get things wrong. Either you won’t get the most out of your session, or worse, you risk leaving your workout with an injury.
So, before you begin let’s revisit the HIIT training crib sheet. First off, HIIT is an effective fat burner, yes. But it also benefits your VO2 max (the amount of oxygen your body can use and an indicator of cardio fitness) and stamina: train harder for longer thanks to a reduction in lactate accumulation.
Moreover, if you normally ditch your workouts as fast Monday’s healthy eating resolutions HIIT can help. Research found that you’re more likely to enjoy fast-paced vigorous exercise than slow and steady cardio, or LISS as it’s most commonly known, and therefore stick with this type of training.
Ready to HIIT it?
WH got the heads up from F45, the Aussie fitness franchise that’s famous for functional heart rate-monitoring training, on how to get the most out of your HIIT training whatever level of experience and ability you are.
9 Ways To Maximise Your HIIT Training Session
1. Not giving time to technique
Take it slow at first to ensure you’re performing each movement safely and effectively. Once you’ve nailed your technique you can take your HIIT training faster.
This isn’t as risky with body weight exercises, but it’s essential with strength-based movements involving kettlebells, barbells and dumbbells.
2. Ignoring the modification HIIT exercises
None of us want to feel like we’re being a cop out, but sometimes doing the easier modification of an exercise is wise if your fitness levels and technique aren’t quite there yet.
You’ll still be working your body, and trainers will let you know when you’re ready to take it up a notch.
READ: The 4 Week Workout Challenge
3. Lifting weights that are too heavy
Most HIIT classes revolve around functional – that’s every day – movements. This means all the exercises should come fairly naturally and you’re unlikely to be injured.
For this reason, it’s best to keep weights light and repetitions high, and avoid Olympic-style lifts, snatches and jerks. However, if you’re doing a resistance-focused HIIT class working up to heavier weight will get you more gains.
The more lean muscle mass you have = the more calories you burn at rest.
4. HIIT training for fat loss? Don’t let your heart rate slack
This is one type of exercise where the aim is to work out at your maximum. Your ideal top heart rate level depends on age and gender but 80-90% is a good goal.
Many HIIT classes, like F45, use heart-rate monitoring belts, with results broadcast on a big screen. Too easy? Request a weighted vest.
READ: 4 Of The Best Heart Rate Monitors
5. Wearing restrictive or too much clothing
You’ll get really sweaty, so opt for very breathable gymwear like shorts, vest tops, crop tops, ankle socks and lightweight leggings. You might think you can skimp on gym clothes but give it a class or two and this is where the best gym leggings come into their own. What you want is sweat-wicking fabric to keep your skin cool and less itchy, plus designs that don’t have zip pockets (these can dig in during floor work).
A comfortable pair of gym trainers is also very important. Or, invest in weightlifting trainers that are designed for functional movement – most are these days.
6. Underestimating the importance of flexibility
If you’re tight around the hips you’ll find it difficult to do a proper body squat, for instance. Being mobile and flexible is essential to doing HIIT safely and effectively. Build up a base for both with yoga and pilates.
READ: How To Increase Your Flexibility
7. Ignoring what you should eat before HIIT training
If you’re doing a cardio-based HIIT eat something light and no closer than two hours before the class starts. For strength-based ones it’s good to eat lean protein and some fibrous carbohydrates up to an hour before.
As with any type of exercise, drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Within 30 minutes of the class ending restock on the macronutrients you’ve lost during training. Protein shakes are great!
8. Underappreciating good prep and recovery
Taking time to warm-up and cool-down is vital. It’s really important to get your muscles ready before working them hard.
After class – because you’ve been putting them under severe strain while working out – giving your muscles, tendons and ligaments a stretch is essential.
At F45 people can come in and foam roll 20 minutes before a class.
If you’re particularly sore after a strength class, have a bath with Epsom salts – they’re one of the best muscle relaxants out there.
READ: 12 Ways To Prevent DOMS At Home
9. Being negative
There’s no getting away from the fact that HIIT training is painful. However, a good mindset and positive approach will make it a whole lot easier. Be a ‘yes’ person.
Plus, if you’re not getting out of your comfort zone and feeling exhausted after a class, then you’re not pushing yourself hard enough and you won’t see results.
Addicted to HIIT? Have you added LISS to your workout yet? Maybe you’ll want to try one of the UK’s best heart rate monitor classes.