High Intensity Interval Training How Often Do I do It and Why?

In such a polarized world, its amazing that there is almost no debating the fact that 20 to 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes is a good idea. The aforementioned facts are true and backed by study after study. Social media is full of accounts documenting amazing body transformations made by people participating in various physical exercise programs. The most common workout schedule of 5 days a week is great advice for most workout regimens. High Intensity Interval Training doesn’t apply to this rule. HIIT falls into the category of a vigorous physical activity and 2 to 3 times a week or 75 minutes total is recommended.

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One of the most frequently asked questions I receive about my working out as a fitness professional. Is how often do I perform a particular style workout and why? “According to the American College of Exercise 2 to 3 HIIT Sessions per week are commonly employed in research and, therefore, should be the goal in a real-world setting.”(ACE June 2012) So When asked about High Intensity Interval Training in particular. I tell them the consensus is 1 time a week for beginners and 2 to 3 times for experienced conditioned exercisers. HIIT workouts conducted properly at 85% to 95% of maximum heartrate for 20 to 30 minutes will place stress not only on the cardiovascular and nervous system but on the muscular skeletal system as well. The analogy that I like to use is to imagine what it feels like the day after an intense athletic competition in which you gave it your all. The body needs time after completing a HIIT session for growth, repair and to replace nutrients used in the process.

As a general rule I usually program 2 – 3 HIIT workouts a week on non consecutive days for myself and highly conditioned clients. This is done to avoid burnout and overtraining issues such as overuse injuries and fatigue. Moderate intensity workouts are given to beginners until they are conditioned enough to perform at a high intensity levels. Strength training workouts are programed on alternating days with HIIT sessions and are usually split by upper, lower and totalbody routines . A weekly schedule might look like this UB-HIIT-LB-HIIT-TB-LISS(low Intensity Steady State) cardio such as walking, jogging, stationary bike. A 3 day HIIT schedule UB-HIIT-LB-HIIT-Low Impact Cardio-HIIT.

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HIIT is only one component of a well rounded physical fitness regimen. Remember that the research shows that more is not usually better when it comes to the frequency and duration of HIIT training programs. Its a good idea to have a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 48 hours for rest and recovery between sessions. In review HIIT is a great supplement to my current exercise program and helps me maximize my health and wellness goals.

For education and information purposes only. Always consult with a physician before starting a physical fitness program particularly if you have been inactive for a period of time.

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