If you’re active and working to stay fit, chances are you’ve tried or at least heard of interval training. Sometimes referred to as high intensity interval training (HIIT), it involves performing brief but intense exercises with a high level of exertion. Each exercise typically lasts between 30 and 90 seconds, intersected with short rest periods.
Interval training is a great way to build endurance, burn excess fat, and even improve your running times if you’re training for a race. However, as with any exercise regimen, it’s important to mitigate potential injuries, pain, or diminished results by being aware of proper techniques and knowing which mistakes to avoid.
Mistake 1: Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool Down
One major appeal of interval training is that it enables you to stay fit while spending less time at the gym. However, taking shortcuts can be dangerous. Spending a few minutes warming up and cooling down are non-negotiable and can prevent injury. Mirror the instructor demonstrations of exercises to warm your heart, joints, and muscles. Consider using the first several intervals of class to train at a mild (instead of moderate or high) intensity. You will train more effectively this way.
Most importantly, stretch after your workout to cool down. We sit all day in cars and at desktops. Stretching and lengthening muscles after they work hard in class is a great way to combat the dangers of habitual sitting posture.
Mistake 2: Taking It Too Easy During Intervals
A key objective of HIIT exercise is to push your body and your mind. If you consider your exertion as a 10-point scale with 0 representing sleep, you want each interval segment to fall right around the 8 category. It can be easier to track this with a heart rate monitor, but you can judge your exertion by tracking it mentally as well. Of course, if you are new to interval training or participating in a group interval training class that caters to various skill levels, you always maintain the option to take each exercise at your own pace. Exertion means something different for every body.
Mistake 3: Exercising for Too Long or Too Often
Interval training, by its nature, is exhausting. If you try to force yourself to do long routines, you risk injury and burnout. Similarly, it’s best not to do interval training every day. It’s most effective when practiced two or three times a week, with a day between each session. You may choose to engage in other exercise on off days, such as walking, jogging, cycling or hitting the elliptical. However, keep in mind that your body absolutely needs its recovery time to get the most out of your HIIT efforts.
Mistake 4: Pushing Too Hard When You Start
The first week or so that you’re engaged in interval training, let your body acclimate to the intensity of the workouts. Start out with shorter bursts (30 seconds, for example) followed by a recovery break. You can increase the length of the intervals as you grow stronger and increase your endurance.
The best way to avoid these and other mistakes during interval training is to do it with the guidance of a trained fitness instructor. If you’re interested in a group interval training class in Seattle, contact 5focus today!