It promises fast results but its not unusual for first time HIIT goers to leave a class feeling they've been hit by a brick, literally. Here's how to not only last the distance but fall in love with high-intensity impact training.
Over the past couple of years, gyms across the globe have been in the grip of high-intensity impact training (HIIT) mania, promising fast results and seriously intense workouts. But if you’ve ever unwittingly wandered into a class you may have crawled out half an hour after, wondering what hit you, literally. “The most common mistake I see is people make are not easing themselves into it or allowing for natural progression,” says Adala Bolto, founder of ZADI Training, a new women’s only HIIT studio in Sydney.
Pushing yourself too hard, too soon could be enough to put you off HIIT for life, but get it right and you may just be a convert. “HIIT is great for anyone who wants to see fast fitness and strength gains, let’s face it that’s nearly everyone!” says Adala. “It’s also great for busy people, if you are too busy to stay active, you need HIIT in your life!” HIIT workouts have earned a loyal fan base for a reason, they really work! “HIIT is very effective,” says Adala. “Your body metabolises fuel both during and after each workout whilst your body is recovering due to the high intensity – this is due to the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. It’s efficient, a fast calorie burner and it increases your metabolic rate.” Sounds pretty good, right? Before you take the plunge, we asked Adala to share her advice on how to fall in love with HIIT.
1. Find the right class
Environment is everything when it comes to finding an exercise program that works for you. Just like shopping for a swimsuit or trying a new lippy, the most important thing is you feel comfortable. “Avoid over-crowded intimidating environments that are more competitive than supportive,” says Adala. An easy way to find your tribe and skip the macho military-style motivation is to look for a studio that specialises in training women. “A bit of fun never hurt anyone whilst working out,” says Adala. “At ZADI we are a community of like-minded women. Guidance, as well as the external motivation a trainer can provide, will take the guesswork and overthinking out, so you can put just the right amount of work in.”
2. Eat the right food
What you put in your body before and after a HIIT class can have a major impact on recovery, and how much you enjoy the class. “Not fueling correctly before a session, or getting enough nutrients required for recovery is a common mistake,” says Adala. “Eat a balanced meal fuelled by protein and carbs one hour before, or a small snack like a banana, 30 minutes before a session,” says Adala. You’ll be working up a sweat so staying hydrated is important, especially after your class. “A protein-filled snack to refuel within 20 minutes after your workout is a good idea. Follow up with a meal high in protein and carbs - the good kind that you get from fresh vegetables and grains,” says Adala.
3. Wear the right gear
As anyone who’s ever turned up to a spin class wearing flowy yoga gear will attest, nothing ruins a workout faster than wearing the wrong kit. HIIT requires lots of dynamic movement so wear something that’s easy to move in and opt for layers you can peel off as you start to warm up. “A supportive bra is an absolute must!” says Adala. Foot-wise, a good cross-training shoe that offers plenty of support for jumping, pivoting and lunging will keep you stable and safe.
4. Stay in your own lane
One of the easiest mistakes to make in any class, not just HIIT, is getting distracted by what the person next to you is doing/lifting/repping. As hard as it is, keep your eyes on what you’re doing. “Most importantly, don’t compare yourself to others, we all have to start somewhere,” says Adala. If you’re struggling to keep up, adjust the intensity. “HIIT sessions are either time operative or repetition based, you could slow down the pace, reduce the reps or take longer rest periods to regulate your heart rate,” says Adala.
ZADI Training specialises in HIIT workouts developed especially for women. Check out their classes here.