Common Mistakes That Could be Ruining Your HIIT Workout

These workouts will leave you with zero excuses not to get your daily sweat in.

By: Emily Freeman

HIIT is continuing to have its shining moment, and for good reason. By alternating between all-out effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) not only increases your metabolism and burns major calories, it also cuts your workout time in half, builds endurance, improves your heart health, reduces your risk of diabetes, and burns fat, not muscle. Sounds too good to be true, I know. 

When you increase your heart rate and then bring it back down, your oxygen stores become depleted. Your body then has to work even harder to bring these levels back to equilibrium, burning more calories for up to 24 hours after your workout is over.

So you probably want to know – what’s the secret sauce? 

5 Common Mistakes Made With HIIT 

There’s a few things to consider when incorporating HIIT into your workout routine. Since it puts quite a bit of stress on your body, it’s important to make sure you’re not making any of these five common mistakes. 

#1 You Do it Too Often

Less is more when it comes to HIIT workouts. Because of its intensity, your body needs more time between sessions to recover (remember, your body is still coming back to status quo even up to 24 hours later). If you are doing HIIT every day, you’re putting yourself at greater risk of burnout and injury. Instead, HIIT is the most effective when done two to four times per week on alternating days. 

#2 Your Form is Incorrect 

This is one of the most frequent mistakes seen in HIIT. Because HIIT requires giving all out effort, many people forget to monitor their form, putting them at risk for some pretty serious injuries and chronic pain. NEVER compromise your form for intensity or specialty exercises. Instead, choose exercises you know you can properly perform and start slow with new variations. 

#3 Your Intervals Are Too Long

Intervals should be no longer than 30 seconds. After about 30 seconds, your immediate energy stores are depleted, and you’re more likely to give less effort and lose form. By only giving yourself 30 seconds to reach complete fatigue, you’re also more likely to push yourself to maximum effort. 

#4 You’re Resting For Too Long Between Intervals

It’s important to give yourself enough rest between exercises and sets to be able to give all-out effort in your next interval. However, resting for too long can hinder your results. Aim for no more than 60-second breaks. 

Note: those minute breaks should be saved for after super high-intensity bursts, and the majority of your rest should be at or under 30 seconds. 

#5 You’re Not Incorporating Strength Training 

HIIT should not replace your strength training. However, if your days in the gym are limited, combining your HIIT and strength training is a super effective way to burn calories and build muscle simultaneously. In fact, it can be an even more effective and time-saving way to burn fat while reducing the strain on your joints than a strict HIIT routine. 

5 Quick HIIT Workouts to Burn Calories and Sculpt Muscles 

What does the perfect HIIT routine for burning fat and sculpting muscles look like? These five routines all combine HIIT cardio with compound strength training movements – think single-leg deadlift with a bicep curl to press combined with burpees for optimal results. 

#1 Total Body Burnout 

This 30-minute HIIT-strength routine is going to be the new favorite part of your day. Trainer Daniel Pascente challenges your strength and endurance with fun and effective exercises to get your heart rate up and sculpt defined muscles.  

#2 Ultimate Booty 

Trainer Caroline Pearce puts you through four challenging circuits with three to four exercises, each gone through twice. You can expect dynamic pulsing exercises, like traditional sumo squats to a static hold, mixed with high-intensity cardio moves, like jumping sumo squats. 

Can you feel the burn already? 

#3 Total Body HIIT 

There’s plenty of modifications, and this dynamic calorie-burning workout with trainer CJ Koegel makes it appropriate for all levels. Targeting all major muscle groups in just 15-minutes, it’s perfect for when you’re in a time crunch. 

#4 Total Body Training

Trainer Kenta Seki is not messing around with this one. Starting with a dynamic warm up, this low impact workout is perfect to do first thing in the morning or after a long day when you need to blow off some steam.  

#5 Upper Body Interval Mix

With three sets of two back-to-back strength moves followed by a cardio exercise two times through, this upper body workout with trainer Breann Mitchell will help you sculpt and tone, leaving you with that post-HIIT workout glow.

Get Ready to Sweat!

With little to no excuses left to start building muscle and burning fat in under 30 minutes, it’s time to grab a mat and some dumbbells and get sculpted with HIIT.