Have you ever experienced strange tweaks or injuries following an exercise? Ever wonder why your body is not at peak performance? This article explains 5 tips to avoid injuries and maximize your performances, specifically with High Intensity Interval Training workouts. Be sure to keep reading as I’ve added a tip on what and when you should eat after performing an intense interval workout.
HIIT Training Tips
There is no point in performing an exercise at maximum speed and intensity if you don’t have the correct form. Not only does it look awful, but it also promotes injury. Several overuse injuries are due to performing repetitive techniques with improper form. Excessive pressure is applied to certain joints and muscles which can cause injury and overtime can worsen into more serious conditions. If you’re using variations with weights, remember to lift light until you can lift right!
Squatting incorrectly, for example, can lead to many problems, one of them being lower back injuries or even disc herniation. I speak from personal experience since this happened to myself. Every time I would squat high bar (with the bar resting on my traps), I would sit too far back and lean my torso too far forward, therefore putting too much strain on my lower back.
2. ALWAYS warm up with dynamic stretching and perform a cool down afterwards
Warm up with 3-5 minutes of dynamic stretching before starting your routine which will activate the muscle groups you will be using and prevent injury. Cooling down is essential to avoid losing consciousness from blood pooling in large muscles. It also helps remove lactic acid and promote quicker recovery for your next exercise session. Stretching before/after an exercise is also important to help remove waste products from your muscles. If you haven’t already, check out my earlier post on Dynamic Stretching Routines for images and in-depth explanations.
3. AVOID static stretching before HIIT (or any sport)
Studies have shown that static stretching may reduce performances by up to 30% if performed before intense workouts; effects may last up to an hour. Refer to my article Dynamic Vs. Static Stretching for an explanation to this phenomena. However, it is reasonable to perform static stretching after your intense workout.
4. Slowly increase the intensity and volume of your HIIT
Increase the intensity and volume of your training every 2 weeks (4-6 sessions) as you notice that your body begins to get stronger and recover faster. This will prevent injury and allow time for your body to adapt to this new type of training. Eventually aim for at least a 1:1 ratio of workout to recovery time. If you’re competing for a sport, use the ratio of 2:1 as competition approaches to challenge your anaerobic power to work at maximum capacity and intensity.
5. AVOID high glycemic foods or drinks before and after a workout
It’s not a wise idea to down a can of Coke before or after a workout… and in general! Fructose (from sources such as soda and energy drinks) can actually reduce the production of your human growth hormone (HGH) if taken within 2 hours of your workout.
High glycemic or simple carbs can spike your blood glucose which stimulates the release of insulin. Although insulin normalizes your blood sugar, excess insulin can lead to low blood sugar, which may increase hunger and decrease your energy before exercising.
In the post-workout phase, your muscles become even more sensitive to insulin and glucose absorption. So by eating high glycemic carbs post-workout, your blood sugar may increase too quickly, causing carbs to be stored as body fat.
HIIT has a prolonged effect on your metabolism, producing an effect called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) which triggers the release of human growth hormone (HGH) and helps burn calories up to 48 hours AFTER your workout. Eating a high carbohydrate meal immediately after your workout will decrease the length of EPOC, and hence the amount of fat you actually burn.
For the best results, try consuming a combination of protein from nutritional foods and vegetable carbohydrates 30 to 45 minutes after performing HIIT. Lean chicken breast and spinach are my personal favorites.
Why wait to eat after finishing your HIIT workout? As mentioned earlier, consuming carbohydrates too soon can impair the length of EPOC which then impairs your body’s fat burning capability. Just be sure not to wait too long (more than an hour) otherwise your body enters a catabolic state where your hard earned muscle begins to break down.
Delaying post workout nutrition can be detrimental to all your hard earned muscle and compromise your ability to recover.
And of course, don’t forget to replace your fluids since you’ll likely have lost significant amounts of water due to sweating and are at risk for dehydration.