A HIIT work out is a combination of high-intensity exercise that is followed up by a moderate or low-intensity recovery phase. Your level of fitness determines these intensity levels, and what your personal goal is for your training.
The goal of a HIIT workout, and what makes it different from a moderate jog, is that a HIIT workout aims to get your heart rate up to 85-90%. This will create an afterburn effect in which your body starts an “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” and burns more calories throughout the day.
How long should a HIIT work out be in total to see the best effects? A HIIT work out should be about 30-60 minutes long. This includes your warm up and cool down period with numerous intervals contained. The reason to keep them shorter is that your results tend to decline the longer the sustained output is kept up. This ratio is a 1:1 cool down and high intensity, but this isn’t the only option.
In some HIIT workouts, like a 1 to 1 workout, you would want to do 60-second intervals of high intensity, with 60 seconds of cooling down, whereas a 1 to 4 workout could see 30-second intervals with 120 to cool down in between.
These differentials depend on your own personal strength and need; if you overwork your body too hard, you could cause you to have overuse injuries and put too much stress on your body.
However, there is cause to believe that a 1 to 4 workout may not be enough intensity for the HIIT workout to show many differences in the long term. What is the best way to see results with HIIT?
How Many Minutes of HIIT Should I Do to Lose Weight?
This answer varies dramatically, depending on who you’re talking to. Some suggest as short as 7 minutes and as long as a whole hour. However, there is a general happy medium between the two that is seemingly the best answer to this question. This would be 20-30 minutes.
Why should your HIIT workout stay at 20-30 minutes, and how does that help you lose weight easier? This is because if you are managing a HIIT workout longer than an hour, chances are you aren’t pushing yourself quite hard enough to see the benefits of the exercise.
An example of how this would work in some scenarios is a high-intensity interval for 30 seconds, followed by a rest or a low intensity cool down for another 30 seconds.
You want to be working in short bursts of high intensity and resting that will push your heart rate up and trigger this afterburn effect. If you’re taking too long of a cooldown period, or not pushing hard enough when you’re high-intensity, you may not see this afterburn doing the work the HIIT workout is trying to trigger.
If you are doing less than 15 minutes, you most likely haven’t spent enough time in the high-intensity part of the workout either to see much of a difference.
You want to try and target that happy medium to really start to see the effects of the HIIT work out really start showing. Though everyone starts somewhere different and can handle different levels once they begin, so there is room to build up to higher intervals, but the aim should still be within 20-30 minutes.
Can Too Much HIIT Make You Gain Weight?
Is it possible that HIIT workouts can become too much of a good thing? The simple answer is yes; you can find that you are gaining weight even if you’re doing HIIT workouts.
When this happens, it’s suggested that you cut back on HIIT training when you don’t see improvement or see weight gain, as you are probably overworking yourself and seeing the repercussions in the gaining of weight.
You may not realize that you can actually overtrain your body, and start causing elevated cortisol levels that cause you to gain weight.
This can happen when you are doing HIIT workouts every day or with too many high-intensity exercises in general, if you see this weight gain while training, it’s actually suggested that you cut back to workouts only once or twice a week instead of every day to avoid overtraining.
However, if you are seeing weight gain, it may not be because you are overtraining, it may just be because you’re a bit too impatient.
It’s common to see some level of weight gain when you start a new workout, within the first few weeks of any workout, HIIT included. The weight gain may not even be because of fat, but either way, you need to be patient if you want to see the positive effects of HIIT.
What you are seeing when you start worrying about weight gain during the beginning of HIIT workouts is your body’s reaction to the new stress.
Working out is a stressor, and though the changes are not permanent, you will start to see your body responding by keeping water in the places where your muscles are “injured”.
These injuries are just the inflammation and small tears that are being created in the muscle fibers that are a normal part of getting stronger and working out.
Keep to your workout plan, and balance it with a good diet, and you shouldn’t need to worry about the early stages of your workout.
Is it Better to do HIIT in the Morning or Evening?
In general, workouts are more affected by your sleep habits, and the best time for you to work up depends on whether or not you find yourself more of an early bird or a night owl.
In general, the morning people have a harder time sleeping if they try to work out in the evening or later at night as it’s harder for them to wind down from the workout.
They are much better to stick to morning exercises, and HIIT routines as a lack of sleep quality can result in lesser endurance and effect your workout in general.
Night owls have it luckier, as both nighttime workouts and morning workouts don’t see a dramatic change in sleep quality and thus don’t see a dramatic change in endurance overall.
Ensuring that you are getting in a good schedule of working out and eating healthy and healthy sleep patterns are essential to seeing positive results from your work. This is why you should consider your sleeping habits while planning what time you are going to do your HIIT workout.
If you are working out at the wrong time of day for your sleep habits, you may find that no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to reach the level of intensity you are striving for in your workout.
Being aware of how much sleep you are getting and whether or not you struggle to sleep after an evening workout will be essential to making sure that you are setting yourself up for success for your next day and next workout.
Final Thoughts on How Long Should a HIIT Workout Last
HIIT workouts, done right, can be incredibly beneficial to weight loss goals and endurance training. As long as you are consciously aware of your limits, your strength, and when you are working out, you will start to see the benefits of this type of workout in time.
While planning your HIIT workout routine, be careful to avoid doing too much of the workout, and remember that results won’t show right away. Patience, self-awareness, and careful planning will be your best friends while you start planning your HIIT schedule.
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