Why Less Is More When Doing High-Intensity Workouts
The logic seems sound: the more time you spend on the treadmill, the Stairmaster, or perfecting those biceps curls on the bench, the better the workout and the more fit you’ll become. But that ideal image some of us have always had of dedicating long hours toiling away at the gym may not carry weight any longer.
In fact, research now shows that prolonged stretches of aerobic exercise can actually have very serious, detrimental effects, rather than a positive impact on our fitness. Shorter, high-intensity workouts (sometimes called HIIT or “high-intensity interval training”) are where it’s at. The right high-intensity workout, done with the right consistency, carries greater benefits and will ultimately improve a person’s fitness far more (and far quicker). At Body Refined, our lifestyle consultant will prescribe a personalized exercise prescription that may include HIIT routines and will allow you to meet your fitness and health goals.
Additionally, we’re finding that extending your HIIT workout for too long can actually be purpose-defeating. The hour-long HIIT workout is not any more beneficial for your body than the 30-minute session, and can, in fact, be harmful. Keeping HIIT workouts between 10 and 30 minutes is ideal. Here are a few of the key reasons why less is actually more when doing high-intensity workouts.
A longer HIIT workout is a sloppy HIIT workout.
The ideal HIIT workout looks like this: a 10-30 minute session during which time you engage in vigorous exercise (maybe a burpee or a pull-up) for about 30 seconds, and then rest with a very low-intensity activity (jogging in place, perhaps) for about 30 seconds. Those high-intensity periods are incredibly impactful: your body’s oxygen absorption is increased, your caloric burn is increased, fat is burned, and muscle is built.
To have the greatest impact during those high-intensity intervals, you absolutely must be pushing your body to its extreme. If the interval is not utterly demanding, then the HIIT workout is not serving its full purpose. This is easy enough to do when the workout is only 20 minutes long: we can push ourselves for 20 minutes. Yet when you try to do a HIIT workout that lasts for an hour, most often your high-intensity intervals stop becoming truly “high-intensity.”
Further, rest periods tend to become longer, which also defeats the purpose. Rests need to be short enough so that your heart rate remains high (this keeps your body’s oxygen absorption higher and caloric burn high).
Efficiencies gained from the short HIIT workout only last so long.
What’s great about the HIIT workout is how efficient it is. Compared to an hour-long bike ride or jog, a 20-minute HIIT workout can burn 25-30% more calories, can produce the same amount of fat burn, and can result in greater oxygen absorption. Yet these gains aren’t sustained if your HIIT workout extends past 30 minutes.
An hour-long HIIT workout will still give you the 25-30% greater caloric burn than a basic aerobic workout would, but you won’t get any greater benefit than that. Meanwhile, your increased time spent at a high-intensity workout results in a greater likelihood of injury. The HIIT workout is, ultimately, an efficient workout: it’s best kept that way.
Boredom becomes a concern.
There are a number of great activities and moves you can do during your HIIT workout – but that number has a limit. If you’re doing your HIIT workout 3-5 times per week (the recommended number), working out for only 20 minutes, and varying the maneuvers each time you go, then you shouldn’t get bored with it. Your workout should be engaging and invigorating for that full 20 minutes and throughout the week.
But when you’re repeating those intervals for an hour (and repeating that workout every single day of the week), boredom becomes inevitable, and that’s when your workout gets sloppy. That high-intensity interval which is so important will undeniably become less so (and who’s to blame you!? You’re tired of burpees!). And once your high-intensity interval is no longer intense, you’ve defeated the purpose of the HIIT once again.
By investing in yourself and our lifestyle management program, we can help you formulate a personalized exercise plan that will allow you to make positive adjustments in your life. You will establish wellness habits with your life coach that you will carry beyond your time with Body Refined. Best yet, our lifestyle coach will provide guidance throughout the program to ensure your continued success.
Contact Body Refined Today
It can be hard to keep track of all the HIIT workout best practices to ensure you’re exercising effectively, but don’t worry! You’re not in this alone. The experienced lifestyle coaches at Body Refined know a thing or two about making the most of your workouts. They’re trained to consult with you on what is the most effective workout for your body and lifestyle and can help you accomplish your weight management goals or fitness goals in a way that will work for you.
Whether you need help with cholesterol management, diabetes management, or just getting into a lifestyle that will keep you strong, Body Refined can help. Call us today at (844) 899-4846 to schedule a consultation or ask Skylar, the Body Refined bot, by clicking the message bubble to the bottom right corner of your screen.