High Intensity Interval Training: Good but can be bad

Good morning…

This past week was awesome! Last Sunday I enjoyed Reds Shoe Barn 5 Miler, as I ended up running the entire race with a friend. Purely by happenstance I connected with Sarah Varney whom I coached multiple times in years past and have also run with in multiple races. It was a lot of fun to catch up with Sarah as we conquered the Reds course and eventually crossed the finish line holding hands in celebration.

I was also pleased with the past week as I got in both 2 high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and a pair of excellent runs. All said, I was pleased with my activity and am hopeful I will find more consistency in my workouts and runs.

Speaking of “high intensity interval training” (HIIT), I must say I am a huge fan of incorporating such workouts into a well-rounded training program. “HIIT” is essentially a workout with greater intensity and minimal recovery opportunities. The idea is to elevate the heart rate and maintain that rate throughout the workout. Many benefits are realized from HIIT training such as increased metabolic rate (burn those calories), muscle power (moving weight) and longer excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOOC), which means a longer recovery period and additional calorie burn.

While HIIT is a great addition to individuals training program, there is also some dangers with HIIT workouts. This recent study found that a greater amount of injuries are the result of HIIT workouts.. (

Not really a surprise to me, as I am a strong opponent of many of the fitness businesses who are conducting HIIT classes and individual workouts without focusing on form and safe movement. The lure of group training is tremendous, as it is quite profitable financially. However, it only stands to reason that it is very challenging for a single instructor to focus on everyone during a class, thus leaving participants to self-coach. Unfortunately, most participants are trying to keep up, or compete with those around them and little focus is placed on form and proper execution. Even in individual personal training, trainers often focus on results over safe execution.

I have chatted multiple times about maintaining “plank posture” throughout the workout and while this helps improved overall posture, it also insures safe execution of an exercise. Also, it is important to know what is going on with those participants before they begin a HIIT workout EVERY time. Often someone has what might feel like minor (or worse) soreness and they decide to push through thinking it will be okay. The nature of high intensity often leaves dealing with the results to later. Those results are usually never good.

High Intensity Interval Training is an excellent tool as a part of a well thought out and properly executed training program. However, those same attributes that make HIIT beneficial, can also be dangerously unsafe. Proper coaching and attention to technique, form and pain are all critical in a healthy workout. Many like the intensity of HIIT workouts and often have a “push through” mentality. As a trainer/coach, I am supposed to make sure whether it be a group or individual, they healthy enough and they are executing the challenges of HIIT safely.

Another great week ahead. I hope you get out and enjoy it!

God Bless!