For anyone taking good care of their fitness, HIIT will often be a core element of a weekly workout routine. HIIT has a huge range of benefits – from fat burn and weight loss to helping with the quality of your sleep. The main reason why so many people do HIIT regularly is the fact that in just 20, 30 or 40 minutes, you can tick off an intense, full body workout that gets your heart pumping and improves your cardiovascular health in such an efficient way.
Can you do HIIT every day?
At Studio Society, one of the most commonly asked questions at our HIIT classes is ‘Should I do HIIT every day?’ or ‘Is HIIT 3 times a week enough?’ Well, HIIT is intense, and if you’re doing it properly, you will be putting your muscles and heart under quite a bit of stress. This is what does your body good, generally speaking.
But, too much stress on your body in this way can actually come with risks to your health. As well as your cardiovascular health, you could be putting strain on certain muscles which can lead to injuries. There are high levels of stress hormones like cortisol released when you do high intensity training, Cortisol is generally good for you, it improves your immunity and reduces inflammation for example. But, it has become recognised that too much HIIT can compromise the positive effects that cortisol has on your brain and body. When high levels of cortisol are released too often, you will notice unpleasant effects on your body like joint pan and fatigue and your mood can be negatively affected as well.
So, we don’t recommend doing HIIT every single day.
So, how often should you do HIIT?
If you’re asking how many HIIT workouts per week your body can handle, or just how much HIIT per week is optimal for your health, this partly comes down to your individual fitness levels. But, there has been research carried out to explore how many HIITs per week is a good idea, and when it’s a good idea to slow down.
Research tells us that doing 30 to 40 minutes of high intensity exercise like HIIT every week, with your heart-rate working at 85-90%, is where you should probably draw the line. After that, there are risks involved.
So how many HIITs per week? This really leaves it up to you to be flexible. 40 cumulative minutes per week mightn’t seem like that much, but note that those 40 minutes are at 85-90% capacity. So, might choose to do just two really intense 20 minute HIIT sessions per week. Or, you might want to do three sessions at a lower, less intense pace which isn’t maxing out your ability.
We find that HIIT cardio 3 times a week is a really good routine to keep up, as long as you’re not pushing yourself to your absolute maximum for more than 40 minutes per week.
Can too much HIIT be harmful?
It is recommended that you keep an eye on how many HIITs per week you are doing. The varied nature of HIIT means that your body will take a bit of a battering every time you do it, and while HIIT is recognised as one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for your cardiovascular health, more isn’t always better.
So in short, yes doing too much HIIT can be harmful. Too much high intensity exercise can have a negative impact on your brain and body. Putting in maximum effort (heart rate at 90%) for more than 40 minutes per week could have these effects:
- Higher risk of injury to your muscle and bones
- Lower immunity, meaning you may be at higher risk of illness
- Irregular or disrupted sleep
- Your training progress is likely to plateau.
Everything you should know about HIIT and your routine
We’ve collated some of the information we’ve found on what’s recommended when it comes to HIIT training and how often you should be doing HIIT. Here’s what we found:
Firstly, what exactly is HIIT?
Just in case you’re not aware, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is made up of any exercise or group of exercises (ideally using your full body). It’s all about the intensity in which you do those exercises. HIIT consists of doing quick bursts of activity, followed by fixed periods of rest or less intense activity. It’s the alternating between these two states that builds up your fitness levels much more dramatically than many other forms of cardio exercise.
Am I ready for HIIT?
HIIT is hard work. It’s recommended that you only bring it into your exercise routine once you’re at a certain level of fitness. If you’ve been exercising consistently for about six months, including a good mix of resistance training and cardio, you can swap in a HIIT session or two.
What else should I be doing alongside HIIT?
The best results arise from a combination of training types. So that means combining core training and strength training (like lifting weights) with cardio that’s both more and less intense in variation (like HIIT and jogging, for example).
How do I know if my heart-rate reaches 90%?
It can be difficult to know what percentage your heart rate is at, especially if you’re relatively new to intense cardio exercise. If you want to track how much you are raising your heart rate during your HIIT sessions or during any exercise, you can get yourself a heart rate monitor. Using one of these means you’ll be able to keep an eye on your heart rate percentage and know when to stop or start taking it a bit easier – that’s when you’ve been at 85-90% for 40 minutes across a 7-day period.
How do I recover from HIIT properly?
HIIT recovery… It’s vital that you allow your body to recover between each of your sessions. Not allowing your muscles to repair properly between sessions can mean you’re simply not getting the good out of your HIIT workouts. But more importantly than that, you will be putting yourself at risk of injury. To allow your body to fully recover (and therefore get the most from your sessions, allow two nights sleep between each HIIT session.
How many calories does a HIIT workout burn?
One of the main reasons people choose HIIT is its fat burning capabilities. It’s not difficult to burn 500 calories a day when you’re adding in a 30 minute HIIT. Read our article on how many calories does a HIIT workout burn to find out more.