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August 04, 2021 4 min read

Let’s face it, you want your workouts to work for you. More importantly, you want workouts that torch calories and help you become the healthiest and fittest version of yourself.

You’ve heard about HIIT, the hyper-efficient interval-based workout that is utilized by both weekend warriors and seasoned athletes alike. If you’re wanting to figure out how to fit HIIT into your current workout routine, you might be faced with one serious question: How often should I do HIIT?

What Is HIIT?

Unfamiliar with HIIT? No problem, let’s quickly touch on some basics. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and is a method of exercise that encourages the maximum available output of energy.

Muscular Shirtless Man in a Gym Exercises with Battle Ropes

Formulated using intervals of high-intensity exercise followed by brief periods of low-intensity movement or complete rest, HIIT combines the benefits of strength training and cardio into one efficient and effective workout.

Benefits of HIIT

Like many forms of physical activity, there are several amazing health benefits to HIIT exercise that can keep you moving and motivated. Furthermore, HIIT can even be better than performing steady-state cardio, like continuous running. Some of the many benefits of HIIT include:

  • Improved heart health 
  • Works multiple muscle groups 
  • Aids in weight loss, weight management, and fat loss
  • Efficient in calorie burn
  • Promotes afterburn (aka EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), the ability to burn calories after working out

How To Do HIIT

What counts as a HIIT workout, exactly? HIIT may seem like some highly sophisticated and super particular form of exercise. However, the truth is that HIIT is highly versatile and its principles can even be applied to other forms of exercise, such as running and biking.

To do HIIT, your workout should involve a period of intense movement followed by a period of rest. For some people, this may be 30 seconds on and 10 seconds off, but these intervals are mostly up to personal preference. The rest period should be kept minimal, however.

This interval format should be repeated for several rounds. If you have done HIIT in the past, you know that typically by the end of the first round you’re already ready to call it quits. Nothing compliments HIIT more than our energy and concentration boosting Steel Supplements Pre-Workout Stack!

Tabata is just one of many different forms of HIIT that prescribes a 20-seconds on, 10-seconds off format. It also requires the use of bodyweight rather than any resistance, so this can be a great place for beginners to start.

How Often You Should Do HIIT?

With its vast amount of highly beneficial aspects, it can be easy to conclude that doing more HIIT training would equate to reaping more benefits. Furthermore, HIIT can be so effective in reaching your goals that you may be tempted to do HIIT every day in an effort to see faster results. Unfortunately, exercise and training are not that simple.

HIIT, at its core, is considered a cardio workout. It’s great for getting that heart rate up and working up a good sweat. Every time you do HIIT, your body produces a myriad of hormones. Some of these hormones are stress hormones, like cortisol, and are caused by the physical stress you’re putting on your body. Before you get too scared, know that the production of cortisol is not necessarily a bad thing.

HIIT is also great for torching calories and burning fat. But doing too much can actually disrupt bodily functions and make reaching your goals harder. Too much exercise can cause injury, depression, low performance, muscle mass loss, and more. Furthermore, the stress hormones your body produces during exercise are often responsible for the regulation of fat.

Doctor holds wooden cubes in his hands with text CORTISOL

Producing too much of these hormones may cause you to hold onto excess fat much more easily, defeating one of HIIT’s main purposes. While overtraining has its many issues, undertraining is just as bad.

Current research suggests adults should strive for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity in order to maintain proper cardiovascular health depending on their fitness level.

This equates to just around 21 minutes per day each week. How does all this information translate into your HIIT sessions? Unfortunately, there is not one completely right answer. The amount of HIIT you should do per week depends on your level of intensity as well as other activities you may do throughout the week. Your current fitness level is also a factor.

It may also be helpful to take a look at your goals and determine what need you have for HIIT. Do you want to use it as your main method of training? Are you using it for weight loss, strength training, or another goal? These questions can help you determine how much priority you should give to your HIIT sessions.

Most experts say HIIT training should be done 2 to 3 times a week, depending on intensity, and will show best results when implemented in a program that involves other types of low-impact training, such as resistance training. 75-minutes of HIIT or another high-intensity activity is typically best.

Of course, you’ll have to be sure your activity is truly high-intensity or your max effort. Rest days are also very important to incorporate. So, if you’re striving for the recommended 75 to 150 minutes per week, be sure to do enough training that allows for a few days of rest. A well-rounded program that involves a HIIT routine may look something like this: 

Day 1: HIIT Session 25 min

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: Resistance Training 40 min

Day 4: HIIT Session 25 min

Day 5: Rest

Day 6: Resistance Training 40 min

Day 7: HIIT Session 25 min

Frequency of HIIT Workouts: Last Take

Formulating a workout program can be hard. This is especially true when implementing something as strenuous as HIIT training. Of course, if you’re really struggling, try consulting a personal trainer rather than giving up!

HIIT exercises are a great way to lose fat, build muscle, and reach many of your fitness goals. Of course, all these benefits can quickly disappear if you do too much or too little. If nothing else, remember that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.