I get this question all of the time by clients and through my Facebook Page. The HIIT training method is touted as the latest and greatest thing in training. Well, I have been a trainer for over 20 years and I can tell you that there is NO new discovery that will shed some high intensity light on burning fat and getting in great shape.
“Is HIIT training right for me?”
That all depends. HIIT can be great for some people, but running long distance workouts at a low Zone 2-3 heart rate for 60 minutes or more can be more suitable for others. It all depends where you are now. HIIT means something totally different for someone that has been living a sedentary lifestyle, compared to a weekend warrior, or someone that has been exercising consistently for a few years.
Cardio and exercise in general is all about utilizing fuel that you put in your body the correct way, while creating a specific stimulus for a specific response. Balancing blood sugar ups and downs and not beating up your hormone response is the key to results.
Someone new to training will not do very well if they try the same HIIT routine as someone that has been at it for a few months or more. The newbie would probably come into the session with less carbs in their system because they are trying to cut calories. Then they would exercise at these high, zone 4-5 heart rates without enough recovery between exercises and they would burn up all the carbs they do have very quickly, causing their blood sugar to drop and eventually sending their body and hormone response into a tail spin.
Now all of this depends on several factors like how many intervals, how much recovery between exercises, how high of intensity (weight, pace, reps, heart rate) and the amount of fuelling before the workout.
The thing about HIIT for me as a trainer, is in terms of exercise modalities or methods, it tends to be the most personalized type of programming I do. I cannot have a one-size-fits-all program for all clients with any program, but for sure not with a HIIT program.
If you want to try HIIT, I recommend knowing your heart rate zones, wearing a heart rate monitor, and understanding how high of intensity to take each set, and how long to recover. Even the most fit athletes can decrease fitness levels by over-training with HIIT.
Go try HIIT using these guidelines, but be safe and efficient with your workout program.