By now you’ve probably heard about HIIT, a.k.a. high intensity interval training. It’s basically intense periods (short bursts) of exercise followed by varied periods of lower intensity work or rest periods. It’s pretty much the go-to style of training for many trainers and fitness enthusiasts as it can be very effective at burning fat in a short period of time.
When I first started training clients, it was definitely my go-to style of workouts for any client that mentioned wanting to lose fat.
However, that’s no longer the case. In fact I very rarely use HIIT training with my clients anymore.
In my experience most women over the age of 30 (the majority of my clients) are too stressed out and haven’t earned the right to do that kind of high intensity work.
HIIT training is extremely stressful on the body…as is any exercise, (although generally considered a “good” stress), but putting more (intense) stress on a woman who is already over stressed is 100% not going to give her the fat loss results she is training so hard for.
Here’s what will happen instead.
- She will likely eat more/take in more calories post workout because #1. Her body is trying to recover and is depleted from working so hard. And #2. She feels like she deserves the extra food because she worked so hard.
- Because she worked so hard, she will return home completely drained, depleted and just want to eat sugar and carbs (see #1 again) OR sleep all day. And because she is so tired, she won’t be very active the rest of the day, resulting in next to no NEAT. (See blog post here all about the non-exercise movement we do throughout the day that contributes to our overall energy expenditure.)
- The additional intense stress of HIIT training can (significantly) stimulate the production of cortisol, which is most likely already chronically elevated in this particular woman (a.k.a. most women). Elevated cortisol will also adversely affect our adrenal and thyroid function. Additionally, excess cortisol has been proven to stimulate fat gain, cause poor sleep, brain fog, depression, and even digestive issues. WTF!
This is why go hard or go home is the most fucked up philosophy.
What do I do with my clients instead? IF they show up well rested and low stress, we up the intensity. However, if they’ve slept poorly the night before or have something stressful going on at work or home, which let’s be honest, is most women today…then we focus on building muscle, strength, and figuring out ways they can bring more chill into their life. #tunedin
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