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Debunking 7 Common HIIT Myths

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HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is all the rage these days, largely thanks to the fact that it's so effective at building muscles and torching fat. Who wouldn't want to blast through a workout in 20 minutes instead of spending an hour at the gym, especially if it helped you to lose weight more quickly? Due to the popularity of HIIT, though, myths and misconceptions have arisen. Here are a few of the most common HIIT myths, and the truths behind them:

Myth #1: HIIT Is All About Cardio

Fact: HIIT is just about increasing the intensity of your workout. The purpose of HIIT is to go full steam (80 to 95 percent of your max heart rate) for a short period of time, followed by a period of low intensity. While performing HIIT, you can do bodyweight workouts, typical weightlifting sessions and sports-centric workouts instead of just cardio. Most people do HIIT cardio, but you can also go full intensity for any type of workout.

Myth #2: HIIT Is for Everyone

Fact: While everyone can do a HIIT workout, newbies should avoid going full steam on their first day. It's better to slowly ease into the HIIT routine, as that will reduce the risk of injuries and muscle soreness. Once you can do 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise, then it's time to turn up the heat and HIIT it.

Myth #3: HIIT Is the Only Workout You Need

Fact: If you only do HIIT, you will make good progress, but not as much as you could make if you mixed traditional strength training in with it. It's best to do your HIIT workouts during your cardio sessions and add in a HIIT strength training workout once or twice a week.

Myth #4: HIIT Should Replace Regular Cardio

Fact: If you only did HIIT workouts, you'd miss out on cardiovascular endurance, which is the kind of endurance you get by running for 30 to 60 minutes. Low-intensity steady-state cardio workouts are ideal for warming up and cooling down, as well as for recovery days when you're giving your muscles a break. Don't rule out jogging or slow cycling, as those can be used to give your body a rest.

Myth #5: More Is Better

Fact: With HIIT, you don't want to overdo it. If you're working out properly -- pushing yourself to 90 percent of your max heart rate and limiting rest time -- you won't be able to keep up a HIIT workout for more than 20 to 30 minutes. Don't push yourself too far past the 20-minute mark, and make sure to give your body at least 48 hours to recover between serious HIIT workouts.

Myth #6: Focus Your HIIT on Specific Body Parts

Fact: Do this, and you'll be wasting your time! HIIT workouts should focus on your ENTIRE body, using exercises that work out your upper body, legs and cardiovascular system. Think of exercise like Burpees, Squat Jumps, Kettlebell Swings and Dumbbell Snatches, and you'll realize they work your entire body at once, ensuring maximum efficiency!

Myth #7: HIIT Builds Massive Amounts of Muscle


Fact: The about HIIT is that it will not help you build muscle mass; it will only help maintain the lean muscle you already have. The focus of HIIT is on cardiovascular endurance and preventing muscle breakdown during exercise. If your goal is to gain muscle mass, you should not be doing HIIT.

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Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise -- he does so six days a week -- and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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