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Can your body take the HIIT? We take a look at High Intensity Interval Training.

High intensity interval training or HIIT is all the rage at the moment. HIIT involves short training sessions that involve short burst of intense exercise followed by a brief period of rest. An example would be 20 seconds of push ups and 10 seconds of rest times eight reps. Then you move on to the next exercise, generally 4 exercises in total.

The question of how good HIIT training hasn't really been tested over a long period of time. More and more people are taking to exercise as a way to keep fit and active so in this case we are having more people who have never really exercised moving straight to a level of exercise that their body may not be ready for.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

HIIT is a form of training that utilises short bursts of intense exercise followed by very brief rest periods. One of the most common HIIT workout methods is the Tabata training method which uses 8 sets of 20seconds each with a 10 second rest between each rep. You choose 4 exercises and do 1 set of each of these exercises.

The benefits of HIIT

  • High intensity exercise is great for cardiovascular heart as long as there are no preexisting heart condition which may be contraindicated for HIIT.

  • Increased endurance noticed when applied to other sports

  • Fast weight loss

  • Rapid increases in strength and fitness.

  • Makes you feel good afterwards

The dangers of HIIT

When practiced under the guidance of an experience trainer HIIT can give you great results without any injuries.

It is when you are doing high intensity exercise with poor form where you open yourself up to injury. If you can't perform an exercise slowly with good form then you definitely shouldn't be doing them at high speed with intensity.

The choice of exercise here is important. If you have a shoulder injury then you shouldn't be including lots of shoulder exercises to perform with high intensity as the shoulder may become further injured as it wont be able to cope with the many repetitions at speed.

Another issue is that you only exercise in this fashion. It is important to challenge the body in may different ways. This should include a balanced program of mobility, stability, strength and cardio. If you are only ever doing the same thing then this can build up repetitive injuries in the body that can then lead to more serious injuries down the track.


  • Build up slowly - introduce just once a week of HIIT for the first month to get your body used to it. Then you can increase to 2 HIIT sessions per week and build up from there.

  • Don't just be sedentary all day and then hit the gym and smash out a hardcore HIIT session and then go straight back to the desk and sit for hours.

  • Warm up!! Do some mobility and stability warmups.

  • Stretch afterwards and warm down if time allows.

  • If you feel any pain then listen to your body and get those niggles looked at before they become more serious.

  • Regular soft tissue work to keep your body performing at its best. High intensity exercise can take a toll on the body so soft tissue work can help iron out all of those knots.

  • Stay hydrated over the day and after. Don't just drink water when at the gym

  • Ensure you are getting enough magnesium and other vitamins and minerals that you can lose through high intensity training. These essential nutrients are required for muscle contraction and soft tissue health.

  • Make sure your diet can sustain this extra load. You may need more carbs when working at a higher intensity so for those on low carb diets you may find HIIT exhausting. Talk to a nutritionist to tailor an eating plan that will suit your needs.

Final thoughts

If you are interested in starting to increase the intensity of your exercise regime then you should definitely enlist the help of a skilled and qualified personal trainer. High intensity exercise exposes you to an increased potential of injury so you want to make sure you get it right.

For more info or to be put in touch with a personal trainer please call us on 02 9233 5679 or email at We do a lot of work with personal trainers and can match you to the right one for your needs.


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