If you caught my latest article on High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, it was mentioned that there are several benefits to performing HIIT workouts throughout your program, among them being a greater calorie burn. Google “HIIT” and you’ll get tons of results on how to do it, the best ways to do it, what it is.

However, there isn’t a lot of information on how to recover from HIIT, and more importantly how to avoid burn out when using HIIT workouts. With great intensity comes a great need for proper recovery. If you fail to incorporate a proper recovery strategy into your training program, you may end up with some nagging injuries, you may end up fatigued, and you may end up burnt out.

Remember the takeaway from the last article:

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“We don’t get stronger during our workouts,
we get stronger when our body has time to recover and rebuild.”

We have the mentality that more is better, more reps, sets, weight, training days, more everything. If I do one or two days of intense training, then four or five should be even better. If I do 5 sets, then 8 must be better. It’s easy to get caught up in the mantra that “More is better.”

However, that is not how our bodies work. Yea, our muscles may recover quickly, but those aren’t the only things working. The body is a system of interacting parts. Here’s a list of what else is in play when you exercise:

– Joints with Tendons & Ligaments
– Fascia
– Nervous System
– Endocrine System

Remember the quote above. In order to progress, you need to give your body time to rest and rebuild. Otherwise you risk getting to a point of overtraining. There are a couple of key points to follow if you want to avoid reaching that point of burnout

Rest days

What’s the point of a rest day or rest days?

Well, what would happen if you trained hard every single day? That would be a lot of work and not a lot of rest. And less rest would lead to less recovery, which in the end could lead to a lack of results. That’s not what we are after. We want results.

Not only do your muscles need a break from intense periods of exercise, but you central nervous system (CNS) does as well. When you train, especially at high intensities, your CNS gets fatigued because it is responsible for generating muscle contractions for the entire body. The CNS gets tired just like a muscle will get tired.

Schedule at least 1 or 2 days off from training of any sort, especially from HIIT.

Sleep

How often do you sleep, or how many hours of actual restful sleep do you get? 5 hours, maybe 6?

When you train hard, the body needs that restful sleep in order to repair the damage you did to your body. It can be hard with life’s distractions and stressors, but if you want to avoid that burn out, make it a priority, even if it means setting a bed time and having a pre-bed time ritual. Turn off the cell, the TV, and make sure the room is dark. Make sleep a habit, much like you would training or nutrition.

Aim for at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep.

Nutrition

That leads me to my next point. Are you eating to recover?

Let’s face it, most goals that people all have are surrounded by the fact that they want to lose weight, lose fat, and gain muscle. We want to look better. What ends up happening is that over exercise and under eating become a problem. There comes a breaking point where you are no longer fueling workouts enough and results suffer.

The body has a lot of needs and we need to fuel those needs to make progress.

Mobility, SMR, stretching

This last section focuses on how well you treat your body. After HIIT workouts, it is important that you work on areas that may not be performing up to their potential. A dysfunctional muscle can and will alter how well you can perform. The most common areas that get affected easily no matter what kind of HIIT workouts you choose are the hips & shoulders.

As fatigue sets in, form tends to suffer, especially in postural muscles. Use these two exercises/drills to aid in your recovery, however these two are not an end all list.

Hip Mobilization:

Patriot squat – Readily know as a regression for a body weight squat. The patriot squat is a great way to safely mobilize your lower body. Stand in front of the squat rack or a firmly secure pole or post. Be sure you can wrap your hands around the stable object.

Firmly place your grip on the pillar at waist height. Set your feet as if you would be preforming a normal squat and descend until you are at the bottom of your squat. Allow your knees to open, so you can sit deep into the squat while supporting yourself with the grip on the pillar. Take three to five deep breaths at the bottom then return to the beginning position. Repeat up to 5 times.

Avoiding HIIT Burnout_1

SMR for the chest:

Lacrosse ball release- Find a doorway. You are going to place your arm laterally at a 90 ° angle at the elbow along the wall edge of the doorway. Place the lacrosse ball between the wall and your chest, more specifically your pectorals. With the muscle tissue now pinned feel free to apply some of your body weight into the wall through the ball.

If the area does not feel restricted or tender, replace the ball in a new area in the same muscle. Once a desired position has been found, apply further pressure and take deep breaths until the pain or tenderness has dissipated. Repeat this pattern for no more than five minutes. Switch arms and repeat. Feel free to follow up with a doorway stretch.

Taking a few minutes at the end of each workout to foam roll, to work with a lacrosse ball, to stretch, and to do other mobility techniques is vital to the success of your exercise program. This will aid the muscles in recovery.

Avoiding HIIT Burnout_2

Be on the look out!!

If you think you may be approaching an overtraining point in your program, look out for some of these signs. They may be an indicator that you are getting burned out or not recovering properly or need to take time off:

– Get sick easily or immune system is compromised
– Not seeing results
– Constantly Tired
– No sleep or hard to fall asleep
– Increased Resting Heart Rate (take in the AM to measure)

Final Takeaway: If you are not progressing, the first instinct we have is to do more. More cardio, more weight training, more, more, more. Instead of automatically having that knee-jerk reaction to trying to do more, it may be time to take a step back and do less.

Take a week off, perform some low intensity exercises like walking, get more restful sleep, stay on top of your nutrition, do mobility some mobility work, and you should be back on track.

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