Try This Interval Training to Avoid Burnout or HIIT Injuries |  CNN

Try This Interval Training to Avoid Burnout or HIIT Injuries | CNN

Editor’s note: Before starting any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel pain.


For many people who want to burn a lot of calories, high intensity interval training is the way to go.

Also known as HIIT, these popular workouts feature bursts of intense activity, such as squats or lunges, followed by recovery time. A HIIT routine can burn more calories than a traditional endurance workout while being done in a shorter amount of time. Many studies also show that interval training can provide the same health benefits as moderate-intensity continuous training, according to a study published last year in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

With all of these positives, it’s no surprise that HIIT workouts were one of the top 10 fitness trends predicted for 2022, according to the annual Health and Fitness Trends Survey. conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, and they were among the best. 10 fitness trends since 2014. Yet HIIT workouts require maximum effort, which means they’re not for every day — or necessarily for everyone.

There are three similar forms of interval training that may be better suited to your training goals and needs — and you may even be doing them unintentionally, says certified fitness instructor Austin Brock, co-founder of Slash Fitness at Delray Beach, Florida.

“Since there are so many different variations of these types of workouts, facilities tend to use the acronym people are most familiar with, and that’s HIIT,” Brock said. “But maybe that’s not what you’re really doing.”

You can perform HIIT workouts using body weight through exercise circuits such as lunges.

True HIIT workouts last 20 to 60 minutes and feature intense work bursts ranging from five seconds to eight minutes, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. These routines are performed at 80% to 95% of your maximum heart rate, which is a state where you can talk but have to breathe with every word, Brock said. Recovery periods can last as long as the training phases.

Here is an example. After warming up, pedal a stationary bike — set to a certain level of resistance — as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then pedal slowly for a minute. Repeat 10-20 times, ending with a cooldown. You can also perform HIIT workouts using body weight, via exercise circuits such as overhead squats, burpees (a combination of a squat push, plank, and squat jump) and slits.

Read on to learn about the different forms of interval training and how they can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Important Note: Whether you perform these workouts at maximum intensity or in an easier modified form, they are always demanding. Experts recommend only do them two or three times a week, with at least 48 hours between sessions to allow for full recovery.

An HVIT workout, designed to increase endurance, emphasizes volume over intensity and is longer than a HIIT session. Although these workouts typically begin with high-intensity reps, the intensity levels decrease as the workout continues, said Hannah Daugherty, a certified personal trainer and health coach based in Richmond, Va.

Here’s an example: Alternate 60 seconds of jump squats, burpees, mountain climbers, and jump lunges with 30 seconds of rest. Since you are doing more exercises with shorter breaks, your effort will naturally decrease over time.

“Jump squats can start at 100 percent effort, but then burpees can be 90 percent, then mountain climbers can be 85 percent and so on,” Daugherty said.

An HVIT workout can alternate 60 seconds of jumping squats, burpees, mountain climbing exercises (shown above), and jumping lunges with 30 seconds of rest.

A VIT workout is the sweet spot between HIIT and HVIT sessions, Brock said, with high, medium and low intensity intervals. During a typical VIIT workout, you’ll start with a high-intensity interval, then a medium-intensity interval focusing on strength and endurance — think a set of squats. The final phase is a low-impact, low-intensity recovery activity, such as holding a plank position. This series is repeated several times.

“Variable-intensity workouts are great because they use the whole glove,” Brock said, offering a more complete, full-body workout.

A low-impact, low-intensity recovery activity, such as holding a plank, is the final phase of a VIIT workout.

SIT training, for serious athletes, involves pushing your body to its limits multiple times, followed by long recovery periods. During a SIT workout, you can run as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then rest or walk for four or five minutes, repeating four to six times. These intervals can be done while swimming, cycling, rowing, etc., with the aim of improving your athletic performance.

Which workout is best for you depends on your goals and fitness level. If your goal is to lose weight and you’re short on time, shorter, low-calorie HIIT workouts may be the answer. If you have a long hike or endurance event in your future, consider HVIT workouts. A VIIT routine may be an option if you are looking to improve your overall fitness.

Whichever option you select, proceed with caution as they all involve high intensity work. “A box jump might not seem difficult at first,” Brock said, “but as you get tired your form can be compromised and you can get injured.”

The good news is that HIIT, HVIT, and VIT workouts can be modified to suit everyone, even beginners. This is done through shorter work intervals, lower intensity levels, or fewer reps. You can also adjust the actual exercise.

“If the exercise for a specific interval is jump squats, switch to regular squats,” Brock said. “Over time, you can increase the level of intensity, depending on your goals and medical history.”

Recalling these workouts will mean lower calorie burn and a less intense cardio workout, but it won’t make them useless. You still use the same musculature and get the same strength advantage, Brock said.

You can also increase your heart rate more safely until you are in better shape. For example, replace jumping lunges with regular lunges performed while holding weights. Or reduce your rest periods from 30 seconds to 15.

Don’t feel bad if you find out that these workouts aren’t your style. A lot of people don’t like high intensity work. However, it’s important to find another exercise that you enjoy, said Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sports science at Wayne State University in Detroit.

“People need to move to experience the many mental and physical benefits associated with regular physical activity,” Hew-Butler said, “no matter what we call it or what form of exercise is currently being marketed.”

Melanie Radzicki McManus is a freelance writer specializing in hiking, travel, and fitness.

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