Top 10 HIIT Training Myths Busted

Fitness // Louise McDonald

HIIT training is an intense and super-effective type of training, but as with any popular fitness trend, there are heaps of misconceptions as to how effective it is.

Here are 10 common myths debunked:

1. It’s just cardio

The purpose of HIIT is to have you working at a high percentage of your maximum heart rate for a short period, then to follow on with a stint of low intensity, and repeat in intervals.

This can be applied to many different types of exercise, including weight training and sports.

2. More is better

You will need sufficient rest between your workouts for the best results. Pushing past the 20 minute mark during sessions is not advised, as you’re working at a really high intensity.

Three times per week is suggested to make progress, and always allow recovery between sessions to limit the risk of injury.

3. It’s the only way to lose weight

A huge misconception is that HIIT is the most effective at losing weight and improving fitness.

Due to the nature of this type of training, it does not focus specifically on building muscle and this process is one component that can lead to a much higher metabolic output, with the extra energy being used by your muscles.

Even in a rested state, the more muscle you have, the more energy your body requires and this equates to more fat being utilised.

Aim to combine different types of training for optimum results.

4. It’s better than ‘steady’ cardio

Performing ‘steady state’ cardio for longer periods (i.e. a 30-minute jog) has been shown to promote more work for the heart and lungs, which boosts fitness, improves blood flow and, as this type of exercise is less taxing on the body, it can be performed more frequently and support recovery between other workouts.

5. It’s better to focus on one part of the body

Choosing to perform a HIIT workout by focusing on a specific area of the body is to miss out on the awesome effects of using the entire body at one time.

Recruiting lots of muscle groups together in a high-intensity way means a harder workout overall.

6. HIIT replaces cardio

While HIIT is undoubtedly fantastic, this should not solely replace cardio sessions that are needed for endurance.

Low intensity cardio can be really helpful to give your body a bit of rest.

 7. Everyone can do it

HIIT is not recommended for someone that is just starting out with exercise. It should be introduced after an initial phase of low-to-moderate moderate intensity training to build up a foundation.

The guidelines for this are to aim to be competent with 30 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise, before gradually increasing HIIT workouts.

8. You need equipment

Body weight exercises are totally enough! Whether you choose to perform body weight resistance moves or cardio based ones, following a HIIT principle delivers a great workout.

Also read: Top 10 Cardio Myths Busted

9. You should focus on specific areas

In the same way as focusing on a specific muscle is counter-productive, so is focusing solely on one area, such as core or upper body.

10. It’s the same as SMIT

What on earth is SMIT, you ask? It’s another form of interval training that’s less well-known as HIIT, but just as beneficial.

  • HIIT = high intensity and low intensity intervals.
  • SMIT = high intensity and complete rest intervals.

They are both brilliant forms of exercise and just different in terms of their approach.

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