Turns out you may need to cut down on those squat jumps after all.
HIIT may be the key workout buzzword of the moment, but it turns out that many people are playing it fast and loose with its meaning. HIIT, which stands for high intensity interval training, is now often used as a synonym for any particularly intense workout, whether it follows the tenets of HIIT or not.
The problem is, this leads to people making a major mistake in their HIIT workouts — one that could under-deliver on results and even lead to injuries. The main issue? HIIT-ing it for too long, and not staying true to the guiding principle of the high-intensity format.
According to Rachel Vaziralli, the creative manager of group fitness at Equinox, HIIT means “high intensity, low volume”...but some students try to max out on both intensity and volume, thinking this will give them better results. The true purpose of HIIT is to push yourself to the limit so that you aren’t working out for a long period of time.
“If you can go longer than 30 minutes, you weren’t actually working hard enough,” Vaziralli says. If your HIIT workout is stretching past a half-hour, as is common even in some boutique fitness courses, it’s time for a change. This is one workout where more doesn’t necessarily equal better.
If you’re skeptical (or just overly driven), it may help to know that doing these ultra-intense workouts for longer periods of time often results in minimal gains. “What happens is your body just adjusts, so you hold back on the intensity,” according to Vaziralli. Not only is it not worth the extra time and energy you’d be expending, but it also puts you at higher risk for injury — which means laying off the HIIT for even longer. It’s best to just stick with short, intense workouts or switch to something more sustainable like cardio for a longer sweat session.
The takeaway? Stick to 30 minutes when doing a HIIT workout, but make those 30 count. If you still feel like you could keep going after 30, make a note to really go all-out next time: the idea is to go as hard as you can for each exercise, so that a half-hour of activity is really pulling its weight. But be sure to mix it up sometimes with cardio for your best full-body workout — a little variety goes a long way.