By the nature of its name, HIIT is high intensity. It takes a lot out of you. And while for some people this is what they’re looking for when it comes to a workout, it doesn't mean it will work for everyone. Think about it, you wouldn’t go into a weightlifting session and simply try to emulate everything your mate is doing - same weight and rep. In weightlifting, and so many other fitness types you’re encouraged to tailor to your own level. But with HIIT, there is often a one-size-fits-all approach. Going as fast and hard as you can for the set time limit. But we’re here to give you some food for thought on HIIT - helping you to find a way of doing HIIT that IS tailored to you.
Become aware of your own body
HIIT is all about self-regulation. Pushing yourself but also not beyond your limits into injury territory. Before embarking on a HIIT workout - whether self-run or following a video - ask yourself the following questions.
- What are my energy levels like today? Whether you got a bad night's sleep or had some big workouts this week already, HIIT needs plenty of energy in the tank. So maybe swap for an extra hour in bed. Or, if you’re full of beans get ready to smash it!
- What are my stress levels like today? As we’ve said before HIIT is quite stressful on the body, so if you’re feeling a little down today, maybe opt for something a little more gentle like yoga, swimming or a jog.
- How is my body doing - do I have any twinges or muscle soreness which might make this tricky? You can choose to opt for low impact movements (see below) if you’re not feeling 100% but still want to hit it. Or if it’s just some casual DOMs you’re willing to work through, get on the mat!
- What do I want out of this? To get a sweat on, burn off some anxious energy, work on my strength or just get moving?
Digging into these answers will give you an indication of whether or not to do HIIT in the first place and, if you are doing HIIT, what sort of HIIT to go with.
Working with what you’ve got
Now you’ve taken yourself through to HIIT or not to HIIT, you can decide on the form of HIIT. As we said before, if you can’t be bothered to program your own workout, there are plenty of great videos out there to help scratch that HIIT itch.
If you’re raring to go, why not plan out an AMRAP (as many reps as possible), EMOM (every minute on the minute) or Tabata-structured HIIT session. These will push you out of your comfort zone and can incorporate some weights too if you’re also looking to work on your strength.
If you’re working with a tired mind or body but still want to get moving, why not try low impact movements. This means movements that don’t involve jumping or anything too taxing but will still help you to get a sweat on. They involve some regressions of your HIIT favourites such as jump squats and star jumps. Here are some of our favourites:
- Bodyweight squats: ditch the squat jumps and go for slow and controlled bodyweight squats.
- Backward lunges: say bye-bye to jumping lunges. Lunge backwards, working on one leg for the set amount of time and then swapping to the other.
- Low-impact jumping jack: or a ‘non-jumping jack’. Bring the same arm and leg out to the side, then swap to the other side.
- Simple skaters: start in the curtsey lunge position, push off your back leg and step to the side. Repeat with control.
- Lateral walk: simple side steps with slightly bent legs. Feel the burn!