Why I Hate HIIT Cardio


Why I Hate HIIT Cardio

Alright hate is a strong word and realistically it was to get you interested enough to read this article. However, I truthfully don’t like HIIT cardio and I think it’s grown in popularity recently for all the wrong reasons. Also, don’t worry at the end of this article I’ll discuss how HIIT training ought to be done if you choose to do it, because after all, it can be effective and useful if done properly.  

 High intensity interval training or HIIT has seen it’s massive rise in popularity. Seems like everyone and their mother can’t wait to share their HIIT cardio routine. Unfortunately, what I see is a lot of people not doing HIIT cardio at all, but just doing normal cardio for short bursts of time or even worse: nonsense movements that aren’t providing anyone benefits and even worse than that, routines that have a higher chance of injury than burning any fat. I’m talking about the people that do a few burpees for 5 min and be like “look at me! I got my HIIT cardio in for the day!” *sigh* That’s not HIIT cardio. Neither is laying on your back and kicking your legs in the air (another very lame routine I’ve seen online). The problem is that oftentimes beautiful people with great shape and leanness start losing content ideas and just start making up workouts and routines to make them seem unique and then because they're already in shape we can see all their muscles flexing through the movements and we think “oh man that's gotta be the routine I need to look like that!” But it’s not. This extends beyond HIIT cardio, but for today I’ll focus on my buddy HIIT. 

My main issue with HIIT other than the fact that people don’t really know how to do it, is that because true HIIT requires intensity (as the name implies), often what happens is the form goes to the wayside and now people start risking injury. Even minor imperfections done intensely over and over again will creep up much faster than you think. On top of that, most people already have messed up joints and chronic pain. Why are we focusing on something that is literally going to exaggerate this? My personal belief is that people like to feel like they’re being punished or something. So, HIIT cardio checks this punishment box of high intensity misery. They sweat, they look good for the photo for social media posts, and they get to caption the post with “just got my HIIT cardio done #nodaysoff” another one of my least favorite sayings lol, but I’ll save that for another day. So! Back to why HIIT sucks eggs. 

Consistently applying HIIT cardio beyond the point in which you can handle, meaning cranking that intensity knob to 11, may lead to muscle loss and not so much fat loss. This happens mainly for those that are overdoing it, not so much the people mentioned before, but it’s possible for anyone really and especially those that don’t have their nutrition dialed in. It’s an unfortunate reality of any intense training. Overtraining and excess intensity are seldom a problem for average people as most people it’s just hard to get them to exercise at all, so this is mainly speaking towards the fitness nuts who just think more is better at all times and at all costs. HIIT cardio generally attracts this kind of person because of the determined and dedicated passion they have for fitness and health already. The only issue is that it’s easy for that person to overextend themselves and reach beyond where they ought to be for their goal of either general health or weight loss. Also, if you’ve been training in the gym for a few years you probably understand the importance of rest both outside the gym and within your sets. Proper rest will completely change how your body gears up for the next set and changes the muscle adaptations that occur in your body (yes it’s that important).  Proper HIIT cardio is supposed to be structured in such a way so that you have intense moments broken by short bouts of pure rest and then again back to the intensity. My point is that rest is oftentimes forgotten about as if it’s unimportant when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Proper HIIT training (for those that are curious) has to involve a few things and I’ll summarize them a bit, but I personally think that if you want to know more check out MindPump’s HIIT free HIIT guide. They did the good work of making a little 9 page PDF all about this and they are much better experts than me on this subject. Link below:

 https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/hiit-free-guide

They also have a free HIIT training program for home workouts I highly recommend checking out for those that aren’t experienced enough to properly program themselves (mostly everyone):
https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/blog/best-bodyweight-hiit-workout-routine-for-fat-loss 

 And then if you want the real deal full three month guide to HIIT check this link out:

 https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/maps-hiit

Anyway! First and foremost, prior to doing any HIIT cardio it is imperative that you ensure you have no injuries that you could exaggerate by doing HIIT. If you do, HIIT cardio may not be a great way for you to train cardio at the moment. It’s important to address those shin splints, weak knees, tight hips and ankles before diving into a HIIT cardio routine. If you check that box and you’re all set then ensure to have a solid mobility routine to supplement yourself with your HIIT. Mobility should be something you are addressing constantly anyway, but now even more so if you intend on applying something this intense. Next, exercise selection and structure is incredibly important. This is why I provided you with some solid resources because I don’t think it’s an average person's responsibility to figure it out! That’s why fitness professionals exist, right? Lastly, is modulating intensity. As mentioned before, it’s a silly mistake to think that more is always better. How do I know? Well, imagine your fat loss and muscle gain was like shooting a basketball. Does absolutely blasting the ball at that backboard cause the ball to go in the hoop? No? Okay then, well neither does driving intensity to the max all the time.

I hope that this little article helped people understand the importance of properly thought out HIIT. Like all things in fitness and health, it's understandable that the average person won’t know a lot of these things and I don’t expect anyone to. However, my goal is to get this kind of information out there so that people can be better informed and make the choice that’s right for them.


Writer

Randy Borruso

Certified Personal Trainer

NASM CPT

UCONN, Biomedical Engineering

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