One of the most common exercise programmes used by personal trainers, coaches and individuals is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which intersperses intense movement with periods of rest. As with many other forms of exercise it serves an important purpose. Done properly, with the right individuals, it can bring substantial benefits. However, it is not always fully understood and it can be detrimental when used incorrectly.
In the Back to Basics series of videos, I exposed the truth behind exercise and the interaction between how the body works and the physical effects of fitness programmes. In the HIIT video, I look more closely at the history and applications of HIIT.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that HIIT is not designed to be a catch all for multiple fitness levels and goals, and nor can it be applied randomly or periodically.
Certain timings have certain benefits, so trainers and individuals need to focus on prescribing the right levels. This what HIIT was based on when it was first conceived by a German coach and a cardiologist who developed individual exercise plans.
However, successive trainers and coaches have added their own twists and variations. In some cases, this has led to the creation of generic HIIT programmes with everyone working to the same regime, which can work great – but not for everyone.
How HIIT is beneficial
The main benefits of HIIT exercise is in the way it can address specific fitness goals, and also the individual’s needs when recovering from injury.
This is an anaerobic form of exercise – so it supports cardiovascular fitness. It can also tackle issues such as blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, mobilisation of fat and cholesterol profiles.
When HIIT is used inappropriately
The problems start when the trainer or individual doesn’t understand the mechanical processes or the potential for high impact exercise to be detrimental to someone with posture or joint integrity issues. HIIT increases stress on joints and tissues and puts unnecessary loads on people who may already have instabilities and restrictions.
This is why an individualised HIIT programme is so important, taking into account the integrity of the individual physiology, like their metabolic and physical levels, but also their fitness or rehab goals.
To explore more about the history, advantages and potential problems with HIIT, view my video, or for more information on reaping maximum advantage from training and exercise, including podcasts, newsletters and workshops, visit my website.