With so much talk about HIIT workouts, we’re looking into how much they should feature in your weekly routine. Do they replace every workout or just crop up occasionally into your routine?
HIIT workouts are a great way to combine cardio with resistance training. Doing both types of training together is intense. It basically shocks your body into working hard. This can speed up your metabolism for up to 8 hours after training. The University of California conducted a study to demonstrated that combining weights and cardio in the same session simultaneously would get the most benefits. The first group that was tested did cardio then resistance training; the other did both simultaneously in the form of HIIT. The latter developed higher upper and lower body muscle strength, endurance and less body fat. (1)
What is a HIIT workout?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. That means a short (30 mins) workout that consists of weights, sprints, rowing, squats and much more! The aim is to work at your strongest pace and mix up cardio with resistance. Try to work every muscle with the intervals you choose.
So how often?
Everybody is different. We all have different lifestyles, different paces of life. You might find that HIITs are a great asset to your day because they are only 30 minutes long, yet work you extremely hard. Or, you might like to spend time in the gym to calm your mind. Either way, it’s all about finding what works for you. If you want to do HIITs every day (+ rest days!), that’s OK! As long as you mix it up from day to day, you’ll have great workouts. On the other hand, if you want to go for a long run one day, do weights the next, then slot in one or two HIITs per week, that’s also great. For fat burning goals, HIITs are the best kind of exercise. But it’s all about balance. You might benefit from two sessions per week on focussed resistance training where you can take time over your technique and enjoy your muscles burning!
In terms of how much exercise you should be doing, the American Medical Association published a study which explored the death certificates of four different groups of people. The first group were inactive, the second insufficiently active (less than 150 minutes 1-2 times per week), the third moderately active (at least 150 mins, 1-2 times) and the fourth were regularly active (at least 150 mins, 3-4 times). The results indicated that by doing at least 2 workouts a week, we are 37% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease, and 14% less likely to die of cancer than those who are inactive. So, to stay healthy, aim to do more than 2 workouts per week!