High intensity workouts are all the rage right now. With many new gyms opening up that specialise in HIIT training and shorter workouts, I’m sure many of us have asked the question “do they really work?”. I have been a huge advocate of shorter workouts and HIIT training since I became a personal trainer and released my Bikini Body Guide. If you're not familiar with this style of training, you're probably thinking that "shorter equals easier", but that is certainly not the case! However, they are a great way to minimise the time you spend working out. So I have put together some pros and cons of shorter workouts here:
Pro: Easier to Fit Into Your Schedule
One of the most common excuses for not being able to train, is “not having enough time”. While I do believe that if you truly want something, you will make time for it, I know this can be quite difficult for a lot of people. If you’re someone that is super busy with studying or you’re a mum, fitting in an hour group fitness class first thing in the morning is not always easy. It can also be the same for people who are working full time 9 to 5. Trying to hit the gym on your way home from work and getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour can be difficult too.
Shorter workouts, such as the ones in my Sweat with Kayla app, are easy to fit into a busy schedule and you can complete them ANYWHERE! The best thing is if you are completing shorter workouts, it can make it easier to train more frequently - rather than once or twice a fortnight.
Con: Can Be Easier to Overtrain and Burn Out
While shorter workouts can make it easier to train more, it can also make it easier to burn out, especially if you are doing these types of workouts every day. We aren’t super heroes. Most of us are constantly juggling things such as work, study, and children. Add on super high intensity workouts and that is a lot of stress placed on our bodies.
If you plan on only completing high Intensity workouts it is SO important you give your body enough time to rest and recuperate. This is something that is non-negotiable, otherwise you may find yourself burning out very quickly, which can certainly impede on your fitness goals.
For example, you could do high intensity workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and then use Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday to complete lower intensity exercise (such as walking, running, cycling). I also believe that you should also allow yourself at least one rest day every single week.
Pro: They Can Be More Effective Than Regular Workouts
The best thing about HIIT style workouts is that they encourage something called Excessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or otherwise known as the “afterburn effect”).
In the hours following your workout, your heart rate and breath rate remain slightly higher in order to help deliver more oxygen to your muscles. This is important to help encourage muscle repair. During this process, fat can be the dominant source of energy, meaning that your body can continue to burn fat for several hours after your workout.
So whilst the workouts themselves are usually a lot harder and more intense, all of the effort you put in during the workout is still going to reward you - even hours later!
Con: Not Always Ideal for Beginners
If you are new to training or have not trained in a while, then it’s likely that your muscles are not yet conditioned to deal with these type of workouts. This is why I recommend that all beginners spend a few weeks building a base level of cardio fitness before starting my BBG / SWK programs. HIIT training is awesome but like mentioned above, it can also take a toll on your body, so it’s always super important to make sure you are completing it correctly.
If you are beginner, incorrect technique can also increase your risk of injury. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity as your fitness increases and make sure that you focus heavily on using correct form when you train. I personally believe that 10 jump squats done with correct form is always better than 30 incorrect ones. And if that means that you’re a little slower in your group fitness class, then don’t worry!
Whilst HIIT training and shorter workouts seem to be the answer to all your prayers, remember they are not the ONLY solution to the perfect fitness regime. In combination with other types of exercise, HIIT training can certainly can play an important role in helping you achieve your health and fitness goals. However, I do believe that you should also incorporate other forms of exercise as well. Things such as LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio and weight training are also great to add into your routine to help you achieve tone and strength.
The most important thing is that you find a exercise regime that works for YOU! I love shorter workouts because they fit in with my health and fitness goals, and most importantly, my lifestyle.
Love, Kayla xx