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Exercise Overviews: High-Intensity Interval Training


This article is the one of a series of overviews of popular exercise methodologies. Most people find one training method and stick to it, but in reality it is better to switch things up and use different methods like the tools they are.


Every training style has unique benefits you cannot get elsewhere, but they also have unique shortcomings. I will be doing a quick general overview of each method so you can understand what I’m referring to, and then listing pros and cons for each.


High Intensity Interval Training: High intensity interval training, aka HIIT is a form of anaerobic training. The token workout style of Crossfit, this type of training has moved through the fitness industry like wildfire, and for good reason. High intensity interval training is far and away the most beneficial style of exercise that exists.


It has a unique myriad of positive benefits on the hormonal system of the body, and when your hormones are optimized, you get health benefits across the board. Compared to a cardio workout, where you burn fat during the workout, high intensity interval training doesn’t burn fats while you are training, but instead it causes your body to go into a fat-burning state for the next 36 hours or so after your workout.


However, just like crossfit, anaerobic training has a dark side. When health is your goal, it is recommended that you train in this style only once a week, and for no more than 4 to 5 minutes. Your intensity should be high, but your workouts should be short and seldom.


Most HIIT training centers do far more than this, and the average crossfit workout is 10 minutes to 20 minutes long, and it is not uncommon to do two of these workouts in one crossfit session. Then you do this multiple times a week, and the same things that make HIIT training good for you in small amounts are what burn you out when done chronically.


Crossfitters who over do it often show bottomed out hormones such as testosterone, and it is not uncommon for a ripped-looking male athlete to have the hormones of a 60 year old woman. People who get into HIIT training often experience overtraining crashes which manifest themselves as injuries, mental health problems, or chronic disease.


They burn out their body’s hormones because they don’t give themselves enough time to recover, and their nervous system is constanlty experiencing a fight-or-flight mode.


In moderation, this style of training is amazing, but if you participate in HIIT workouts, make sure you are taking weekly recovery days, and that you take 1 to 2 week breaks every 4 to 6 weeks or any time you start to feel burnt out or get injuries.


Pros

  • Best for hormone optimization

  • Best for long-term fat burning. While you don’t burn fats during the workout, it primes your metabolism to burn fat naturally when not training for 36 hours after

  • Often exposes you to a variety of movements, which in turn prevents injury

  • Great for power, a quality that is sought after by athletes and difficult to maintain

  • When done in moderation, has easily the most mental and physical benefits. You’ll feel like superman.

Cons

  • Easy to over-train

  • When over-done, it will have reverse effects. Chronic HIIT training leads to bottomed out hormones and an over-stressed nervous system

  • Athletes commonly take too little recovery time

  • Injuries are often severe, as the body crashes hard once it can no longer maintain the high intensity training


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