Depending on your goals, high intensity interval training is great. These time-efficient workouts were born to torch maximum calories in a minimum amount of time, which makes them pretty enticing. You do short periods of maximum effort work, followed by short periods of rest, to make your body work harder than it does during steady-state cardio. It's brilliant for developing fast-twitch muscle fibres, and one of the most raved about benefits of HIIT is EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). And in English, that means that you continue to burn calories after your workout is done.
While that's cool and everything, the truth is that HIIT isn't meant to be done every day. It's a great component as part of a training programme, but if you're doing it five times a week, you're probably not doing it right – or giving your body enough time to recover.
As an intense form of exercise, it requires proper prep and recovery. Follow our top tips, and you'll reap the rewards:
HIIT typically burns a huge amount of calories, and most people don’t increase the amount they eat on training days. Remember food is fuel, and if you don’t eat enough, you won’t see results – even if your goal is fat loss. Plus, you’ll be surprised how much easier the workout feels, and how much more you can get out of it, when you’re properly fuelled.
When you’re working out, your body needs roughly an extra litre on top of what you already need every day, depending on how much you sweat. That’s a lot of water – about three litres. Get a large water bottle and mark times of the day in pen on the side, so you know how much you should have drunk by when.
We can’t stress how important sleep is for your muscles to recover. Many of us don’t get enough magnesium either, which is one of the most important minerals for athletic performance. We’d recommend a magnesium spray or supplement before bed – or better yet, a magnesium salt bath.
You probably don’t want to be doing HIIT the day after a heavy leg session, or anything too intense. Remember your body needs to recover. Pushing yourself is one thing, but training smarter is king.
The general rule is to eat 1.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight within an hour of training – you're 50% less likely to recover if you don't take it within that window. We always go prepared and take a protein shake with us, to keep us ticking over until we have a proper meal to refuel. Most gyms have in-house shake bars, so you’re usually covered if you forget.