High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular way for busy people to exercise; the efficiency of gaining benefits in a shorter amount of time.
But is it the best way to train for executives?
HIIT training involves alternating between maximal efforts and rests, done repeatedly. Think on and off bike sprints, F45 or your common bootcamp style class. There's plenty of research to show how good it can be for your health and body composition - superior to any other method of training.
Or is it...?
Imagine if you only drove your car with the RPM’s in the red zone. Your car would still take you from point A to point B. However, if you kept driving like that, your car would start to break down. Your body functions in the same way.
Executives lead a stressful lifestyle.
They sleep 23% less and work 24% more than the average worker, combined with the day to day conversations, decisions and complex thinking. I'm yet to meet an executive who has it completely under control - stress is part of the job.
HIIT is extremely stressful on the body.
Your brain can't tell the difference between all the stressors in life - it still releases the same hormones. Frequent HIIT sessions combined with a high-stress lifestyle leads to chronically elevated stress levels and all the detriments which go with it.
It goes against the whole 'exercise decreases stress', which is one of the main benefits for executives in particular
A HIIT session can also leave you feeling worse off than before. They take a long time to recover from (that's kind of the point) which can make you fatigued and tired, mentally and physically performing well below your capacity.
HIIT has a much higher injury risk.
I must also mention this as the strain is higher, form often compromised and most people don't have the physical capacity to jump right into a HIIT session.
Well, what do you do?
A structured and progressive strength training routine will provide many of the same health benefits (such as decreased fat mass, increased insulin sensitivity and mental health) as HIIT training without the negatives.
Ensure daily movement goals are hit. This can be anywhere between 7,000 and 14,000 steps per day depending, or a pre-determined 'active time' tracked by a device.
Do HIIT, but only IF you've first considered the implications and other areas of stress in your life. It's great for busy schedules.
Train smarter, not harder.
Use HIIT as a tool in your toolbox to bust out when you're in a position to up the ante. It can help reduce boredom and definitely has plenty of research to support it. Just don't rely on it as your primary method.