Spoilers: Science says there is a magic number to how many HIIT sessions you should be doing.
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) style workouts have a TON of benefits. They are great for working out in just a short amount of time, they are very effective, they get your heart rate pumping, they build strength and we are big fans. You can read more about that here. But how many HIIT sessions can be too much? Simple answer: When overtraining starts to creep in.
Overtraining is a risk we all take when we are a part of our fitness journeys. Overtraining is certainly something to pay close attention to as it can effect your mood, your sleep, increase your risk for injury, increase stress, and just leave your body straight exhausted. Unfortunately, the risk in overtraining can come even quicker with HIIT.
One study took 11 healthy volunteers and put them through regular HIIT sessions on an exercise bike. Their HIIT exercises were gradually increased overtime over the course of four weeks. The findings? Great, initially. Initially, performing moderate amounts of HIIT, their performance increased and their bodies were producing more mitochondria (the powerhouse of your bodies’ cells). The results turned for the worse when the participants were up to doing HIIT workouts nearly every day. Their fitness gains and mitochondrial function started to dip.
If your thing is HIIT, the study showed that limiting yourself to 90 minutes of this type of workout per week should be your max. We recommend spacing these HIIT workouts throughout your week and to avoid doing them multiple days in a row. A good start is doing 3 – 30 min HIIT workouts a week. This way your muscles have the proper time to recover. The other days during the week you can absolutely workout, just leave the balls to the wall workouts for the HIIT days. Fill the other days with strength days, endurance days, maybe some nice yoga and stretching.
Here is a sample week:
- Monday: HIIT
- Tuesday: Strength
- Wednesday: HIIT
- Thursday: Yoga
- Friday: Strength
- Saturday: HIIT
- Sunday: Rest
As the saying goes… too much of one thing is never good.
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