Doing HIIT can be bad for your body. Here’s why

High-intensity interval training or HIIT has become popular in the last few years, and most people only talk about its benefits. But did you know it also has various side-effects? Well, read on to know all about it.
HIIT workout
HIIT is not just about positives; there are some negatives too! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Published: 28 Mar 2021, 10:30 am IST
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If you’ve been following the fitness circuit, it is impossible that you haven’t heard of HIIT or high-intensity interval training. As the name suggests, the routine involves alternating bouts of high-intensity exercise that last anywhere between 30 seconds to five minutes, with shorter rest periods during a single session. For most people, this routine sounds super attractive, because it promises faster results through shorter workouts. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, yes!

According to a recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, indulging in the wrong form of exercise can damage your mitochondria’s ability to do its job in an effective manner. The research led by Filip Larsen of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Science evaluated the effects of overtraining on 11 young people over the course of four weeks, using a stationary bike. The workout intensity was increased as they progressed.

In the first week, the participants performed light high-intensity interval training for only 36 minutes. During week two, the duration went up to 90 minutes. During week three, it was a total of 152 minutes. Week four was a recovery period, with only 53 minutes of training.

As per the results, the first two weeks were great, and participants experienced the benefits of high-intensity training. Their mitochondrial function improved, among other things. But in the third week of training, the participants’ mitochondrial function dropped by an average of 40 percent, as compared to week two. Moreover, their insulin resistance went up.

HIIT workout
Sprinting really fast to get your heart rate going as a part of HIIT is a great way to lose weight. But, you’ve got to be careful otherwise it can cause you injuries. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In the fourth week, the recovery phase as we call it, the participants completed only 53 minutes of exercise. Their bodies largely returned to normal, but the mitochondrial function remained at 25 percent less than it was during the second week of the study. 

Now that’s not a good sign. Well, that’s why we are here to tell you about the side-effects of HIIT, so that you can be cautious before you embark on this journey. Are you ready to find out?

Side-effects of HIIT

1. It isn’t for everybody: You may have come across several videos that promise the moon, when it comes to HIIT. They say it works for everyone, even beginners. Well, the truth is NO, they don’t. These are hard workouts, and you are going to feel that every time you go for them! And if you are a beginner, you are going to be in a lot of pain, because you need a certain kind of stamina to go for it!

HIIT workout
It’s a highly demanding form of training and can put a strain on the body. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. It can cause dizziness: Like we said, these are tough exercises and require you to do various exercises in different positions. So, one moment you may be sitting, and the other you might be standing. Don’t forget that your blood pressure will also increase and drop in quick succession too. And that could be why you might get dizzy.

3. It can cause sore muscles: Even though the exercises are short and brief, you might end up with sore muscles. With high intensity comes the higher risk of damaging your muscles on a regular basis. Some have described this as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

4. Higher chance of injury: Since you are doing these exercises a lot faster than you normally would, it means you won’t have as much control over your body movements when you do normal exercises. However, if you are just starting out on your HIIT journey, then take care to control your movements as much as you can.

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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