If you’ve never tried high-intensity interval training (HIIT) before, the hype surrounding this type of training can be pretty overwhelming. It looks hard. Really hard. It also looks like something only people in perfect health with perfect diets and body fat percentages of 12% or lower can (or should) do. Add to this a whole lot of misinformation that confuses HIIT with crossfit or powerlifting (though there can be intersections) and it’s easy to see how you could become discouraged from ever giving HIIT a shot.
And you should give it a shot.
HIIT is one of the most powerful and effective forms of exercising, improving cardiovascular health, boosting fat burn, increasing lean muscle mass, enhancing your mood and improving the quality of your sleep in as little as 12 minutes a day.
It’s worth it, if you can cut through the crap and see HIIT for what it really is: an incredible way to live your best life in your best body. With that end in mind, let’s bust through the myths surrounding HIIT to put your mind at ease and your body to work.
- You Gotta Be Fit to Do HIIT
Tuck jumps, burpees, pull ups and switch lunges: they're enough to dampen the drive of even the most hardcore fitness junkie. It's easy to see how these high-octane moves could completely deter someone who is new exercise, making them believe that HIIT is something one can only do when they are already in shape. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every single HIIT move can be modified for beginners, and there are even HIIT challenges designed specifically for beginners (like this one). Rather than letting the end goal discourage you, use it to empower you toward your own HIIT triumphs.
- You Need Gear
This is one of the best and biggest perks of HIIT, but many people still think it’s too good to be true. You DO NOT need any equipment to do HIIT workouts. Your own bodyweight (and a wee bit of motivation) is enough to score you serious gains. The principles of HIIT are simple: that you push as hard as you can for a short period of time, take an even shorter rest and then push again. No equipment needed. This means you don’t need to be in a gym (even a home gym) to see results. You can be in a hotel room, on a beach, at your inlaws for the weekend. Wherever.
When equipment is helpful is when you’re stronger than your own weight, you have been HITTing it for awhile or are experiencing a fitness plateau. Loading up with some resistance is a great way to break through plateaus by introducing variety and an added challenge to your workout. Though again, it is not strictly speaking necessary. You can also switch up the type of HIIT you’re doing, infusing your routine with more plyometrics or agility training.
- You Can’t Have Injuries
While your injuries may prevent you from doing every HIIT exercise, they do not preclude you from doing any HIIT. Bad knees, for instance, can make lunges painful, but you don’t have to do lunges to smash out a killer HIIT session. Talk to your doctor before you start working out, but you should be able to do a HIIT routine that is tailored to you. You can work to the max of your abilities, and your standards and that’s all you need to do to start seeing results.
- You Can’t Do HIIT If You’re Pregnant
A great many pregnant women do HIIT throughout their pregnancies and have safe pregnancies and healthy babies. Again, it all comes down to working to your own fitness level. If you’ve never done HIIT before (or exercised at all), you will want to begin with low-impact HIIT — and get permission from your doctor before you begin — but you will be able to something. Body weight squats, modified push-ups, bridging, oblique planks: these are all moves that are safe for most healthy pregnancies. The ‘high’ part of ‘high-intensity interval training’ is a relative term, and your ‘high’ will not be the same as someone else’s.
- All HIIT Is High Impact
As we just said, the ‘high’ part of HIIT is high intensity and does not have to be high impact. If impact is an issue, due to pregnancy or injury to current fitness level, take it out! Rather than doing jump squats, do bodyweight squats. Or, if you want the intensity but not the impact, load up with some dumbbells or a barbell and you will still feel the burn, without the pain.
There’s a reason so many people do HIIT: it works and it works for many people. It burns more calories than cardio or weights alone and you can do it anywhere in just a few minutes, just a few times a week. Start seeing the undeniable gains for yourself.Sign up for SweatFlix today! Want gear? Shop our store!