How Many HIIT Workouts In A Week Is Too Many?

It's common knowledge that exercise is good for your body. According to the CDC, adults should aim to get about 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week. In addition, the CDC recommends two days of strength training. However, most people have long lists of life responsibilities to tend to, and often, this sounds like way too much of a time commitment. HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training workouts have become a popular choice for many people who need to sneak in exercise when they have a busy schedule.

In an interview with Women's Health, certified trainer and author of "The 30-Second Body," Adam Rosante defines HIIT as " ... any workout where you're alternating periods of intense work and less-intense work, or even complete rest ... " What has made this exercise method so popular is that it can be relatively short. Rosante suggests that, with HIIT, you "Alternate between that 30 seconds of work/30 seconds of rest combo for 15 to 35 minutes." And while this might be brief enough to fit into your routine every day, this does not necessarily mean you should.

How too much HIIT affects your body

Most people will begin to exercise as a means of improving their health. But, experts caution that too much exercise can actually do the opposite. Overdoing HIIT exercise is especially risky because it is indeed "high-intensity," meaning it exhorts large amounts of energy. If you reach too deep into your energy supply, this can lead to serious issues. It's important to be wary of what happens to your body when you exercise too much.

Expert in chronic fatigue, Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. told MindBodyGreen that the risks of too much HIIT include " ... hypothalamic-pituitary suppression, which can lead to fibromyalgia. Severe insomnia is a good warning sign for this, along with weight loss and losing one's menses." The risk of these effects is especially high for women. Dr. Taz Bhatia, M.D. explained to MindBodyGreen, "The adrenaline output and physical demand on joints given the difference in female anatomy trigger more wear and tear, cortisol imbalances, and thyroid dysfunction." So if you want to achieve greater physical and mental well-being, it's best you avoid stacking your schedule with HIIT workouts.

Too many HIIT workouts could backfire

Not only could overscheduling your HIIT workouts wreak havoc on your hormones, but it could also cause you to fall behind in your fitness goals. In an interview with DailyMail, professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University Dr. Panteleimon Ekkekakis cautioned readers, "'If you can take an hour of exercise and squeeze it into one minute, there's a price to pay ... The price is 100% intensity. It's undeniable that the experience will be unpleasant." Dr. Ekkekakis warned that the mindset behind HIIT workouts could demotivate you. "The message of 'squeezing it in' perpetuates the idea that exercise is a chore," said Dr. Ekkekakis.

By overcommitting to a workout that isn't enjoyable, you could burn yourself out and stop moving altogether. However, if you do enjoy those short bursts of extreme effort, you can still practice HIIT safely. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing HIIT workouts two to three times a week with 48 hours of rest in between is the ideal approach due to the amount of stress the intense exercise takes on your body. Rosante remarks that days of rest are essential. He suggests, "a day or two is often enough to allow your body's energy systems to recover and adapt to the training stimulus, allowing you to attack your next session hard.