Since HIIT workouts can get the job done in just 15 to 20 minutes, on average, they seem like the perfect way to exercise whenever you’re in the mood for a short but sweet round of cardio. So many sweaty exercises fit into the HIIT format, meaning it’s accessible and easy to add to your workout routine. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can do HIIT every day.
HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training, is a form of exercise that alternates short bursts of intense activity to raise the heart rate with recovery periods of lower-intensity exercise or rest, says Ellen Thompson, CPT, a NASM-certified personal trainer with Blink Fitness. “A HIIT circuit can include running, cycling, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups, burpees, lunges, or mountain climbers,” she tells Bustle.
According to Emily Skye, a trainer and founder of Emily Skye FIT, HIIT-style intervals increase oxygen to your muscles and also give you a nice rush of endorphins. The fitness modality is also an efficient and effective way to boost your cardiovascular fitness, build muscle strength and endurance, and improve your energy levels — all while reducing your risk of health issues like type 2 diabetes, thanks to the way it works your heart, adds Thompson.
While HIIT workouts are an effective way to sweat and can be tempting to do on the regular, trainers say it is easy to overdo them — here’s what to know.
Can You Do HIIT Every Day?
When considering how often you should do a certain type of exercise, Thompson says it’s important to look at certain factors, like how intense it is and how long it lasts. Yoga and walking, for example, are super gentle and easy on the body, which is why it’s OK to do them every day. HIIT workouts, on the other hand, are all about pushing yourself to the limit, and thus require a few days off in between. “The prevailing recommendation is to do HIIT workouts no more than two to three times per week,” Thompson says. “That’s because HIIT is a high-intensity form of exercise that puts a lot of stress on the body.”
Whether you’re running sprints or dropping to the floor for a set of burpees, there’s no denying that high-intensity interval training is, well, intense. Because it’s so physically taxing, Thompson says daily HIIT workouts can quickly lead to overtraining, injuries, and burnout. Eventually, you’ll notice that you’re too tired or too sore to maintain good form and technique, she says, and that’s when injuries can happen.
How Long To Wait Between HIIT Workouts
With this style of intense training, Thompson says it’s super important to allow time for the body to rest and recover between workouts. “Ideally, you would aim to recover at least 48 hours between HIIT workouts.” She recommends listening to your body to know when you’re ready to take on your next sesh.
Another option is to do 15 to 30 minutes of HIIT three times a week and eventually work up to four with rest days in between, Skye says. “While [these routines] can incorporate difficult or advanced exercises, they don’t have to,” she says. To make sure you don’t overdo it, take your HIIT workout down a few notches by opting for slightly easier exercises, like lunges instead of burpees.
While it may seem counterintuitive, factoring in workout breaks throughout the week is the best way to make the most of your fitness routine. “The process of muscle repair and growth happens when you stop, rest, and sleep,” Skye explains, so there’s truly no need to do HIIT every day.
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Ellen Thompson, CPT, NASM-certified personal trainer with Blink Fitness
Emily Skye, trainer, founder of Emily Skye FIT
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