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People have been more and more interested in staying fit the past few years. A slew of physical fitness trends have developed in the same period, such as hot yoga and indoor cycling studios. But few have been as popular or as widespread as high intensity interval training. This type of exercise routine is now being practiced in gyms and inside houses throughout the United States. 

However, there may be complications with your HIIT leg workout your trainer isn’t telling you. 

Find out what sort of risks you may be exposing yourself to whenever you do upper body HIIT workouts or any other form of advanced HIIT exercises. 

What is HIIT?

High intensity interval training refers to a very specific way of exercising that claims it can burn more calories and build muscle more effectively. This works by doing bursts of intense workouts for predetermined periods before resting for an equal amount of time. 

The theory goes that by putting your body through this training and rest cycle, you increase the stress your body goes through and thus burn more calories and cause more muscle tears, which heal into buffer musculature.

For example, a HIIT leg workout may involve doing as many leg lifts as you can in a minute before resting for a minute. 

Core HIIT workouts could involve bicycle crunches for 30 seconds followed by a breather of the same amount of time. Even more advanced HIIT workouts could involve more complicated routines but always paired with intervals to give your body time to recuperate. 

How Can HIIT Workouts Be Harmful?

Man Working Out
Photo by Li Sun from Pexels

As beneficial as this type of exercising is, HIIT trainers may not be aware that your daily routine of HIIT leg exercises may be doing some serious damage to your body. Because it’s a type of physical exercise, HIIT carries the same risk of muscle strain and overheating as any other form of exercising. But the following are risks that could be unique to those who practice HIIT.

  • Alter Your Metabolism

Studies show that the sudden bursts of physical exercises that HIIT depends on can actually have negative long-term effects on your muscular metabolism. Since your body wasn’t meant to handle so much stress, adrenaline and other physical events associated with HIIT every day for prolonged periods, the metabolic benefits associated with your HIIT leg workouts will decrease.

 Your blood sugar levels can suddenly become unstable and you may even begin to feel more lethargic than energized. Your body may also suffer from oxidative stress which is a type of damage to your cells that causes muscle inflammation and tiredness.

  • Damage Joints

Whenever you do HIIT leg exercises as well as HIIT workouts involving upper body, you will inevitably be doing activities involving your shoulders, elbows and knees. Unfortunately, the intensity associated with HIIT means that you may be putting your joints through too much stress. 

Joint damage can increase  the more you do HIIT leg workouts and can become even more serious if you don’t drink enough water during your exercises. This can lead to joint soreness or even permanent damage to your joints. 

  • Stops Sleep

Every workout, from basic calisthenics to advanced HIIT workouts, helps the body release various chemicals including adrenaline. As you may know, adrenaline makes you feel energized and raring to go. 

The problem is that HIIT can potentially flood your body with so much adrenaline that you may have trouble sleeping. This is especially true if you have your workouts too close to your normal bedtime. Unless you want to suffer from sleepless nights and a disrupted sleep schedule, you should be more careful when you do your HIIT. 

How Can You Make HIIT Workouts Safer?

Crop sportswoman carrying sport mat and bottle of water before exercising
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

All exercises carry inherent risks, from muscle strain to sprains. However, this doesn’t mean that your HIIT leg workout isn’t effective in building your muscles or reducing your body fat. 

You must learn how to take the necessary precautions. 

  • Schedule Properly

You have to learn the best times to schedule your HIIT workouts. As previously mentioned, you shouldn’t do them too close to when you go to bed. You should also consult with your HIIT trainer about the proper days to do so. Doing these exercises everyday can be more harmful than helpful and scheduling will prevent you from overtaxing your body. 

  • Mind the Gaps

The interval part of high intensity interval training is just as important as the physical activity associated with it. Normally, the rule is to rest an equivalent amount of time as you spend exercising, but this can change due to circumstances. If your muscles suddenly feel painful after a core HIIT workout, you may find it prudent to take a longer break. Drink some water and take deep breaths during your interval.

  • Eat Right

Your body needs to recuperate and to do that it needs the right fuel. Most HIIT trainers are knowledgeable enough to know that protein supplements and protein rich foods aren’t the only essential nutrients. A balanced diet that contains the right number of leafy greens, sugar and even carbohydrates provide the perfect nutrients to not only heal your body buy also make it better.

HIIT leg workouts and similar activities aren’t going to go away soon, and neither are the health complications you risk when you do them. However, being informed can help you avoid these negative effects and stick to your fitness goals. 


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