If you are a beginner in High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), then you should be careful to prevent the risk of injury.
So, here is how you should go:
Ease in Gradually
You should make some efforts to create a baseline aerobic fitness level before adding HIIT intervals. You can start with at least a month of cardio work for about 20 minutes daily. It will give you a minimum level of cardio fitness. After that, you can gradually increase a few more intervals into your workout.
At the very start, you might not be able to do a full HIIT session. You should do a regular steady-state cardio workout and add 2-3 intervals of about 30 seconds.
As you get comfortable with the training, you can add more intervals until you include all the intervals, from warming up to end.
During the initial days, you can include intervals of shorter duration and lower intensity level. After you improve your conditioning, you can go for longer intervals and higher intensity.
Choose Exercise you Enjoy
To accomplish a successful HIIT, you have to choose an exercise that you like and enjoy. Say you do not like running. If you do running intervals, then it will not help. Likewise, if you do not like a particular exercise, then chances are there that you will not stick to it for long.
It will help if you choose a HIIT exercise in which you can:
- Use the larger muscle groups, such as legs. It will raise your heart rate substantially
- Accelerate to your top speed quickly, and decelerate quickly
You can also opt for non-traditional exercises, such as 30-60 seconds of burpees and then 60 seconds of walking before going again. Mix all kinds of exercises but make sure you work hard and fast.
Mind Leg Workouts
Schedule your training sessions so that they do not interfere with your leg workouts in the gym. Say you performed a heavy leg session, do not perform HIIT the next day. Overtraining will diminish your progress.
Separate leg sessions at least by 24 hours, depending on how sore you are from leg workouts.
As HIIT reduces muscle glycogen—the stored form of carbohydrates in muscles that powers your workouts—so you should not do HIIT succeedingly to enable glycogen to build up.
Do not forget to eat before you hit the HIIT gym. If you go there with an empty stomach and expect results, it will be a mistake. Keep in mind that a balanced meal before your HIIT sessions is the key to optimal performance. Also, do not forget to keep a water bottle handy to keep yourself hydrated.
Listen to your Body
Do not push your body if it gets fatigued. In such a case, take a rest. And practice easier low-intensity steady-state workouts for the next day. Do not overdo any exercise. It is also advisable for beginners to start with just one HIIT session per week and then include a few short-duration high-intensity intervals.
You can consider HIIT as a gateway to excellent health. Refer to the infographic in this post to know more.