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Why You Should Avoid HIIT As Someone New To Exercise

So, you’ve decided you want to get fit. You’ve had enough of getting out of breath walking up the stairs, and you’ve had enough of generally feeling alien in your own body. Taking to exercise is of course the best way to work on increasing your fitness levels, but the biggest question beginners face is “what exercise is the best exercise?” And, many answers would lead you to believe HIIT workouts are the “most effective” to burn more calories and ultimately burn more fat.

As someone in a place of desperation and wanting immediate change (spoiler alert, that never works), you’re going to pick the exercise that sounds the most intense because you’re led to believe it will get you the fittest.

I understand how that would make sense to you, but let me explain why it's not actually true...

I’m not here to shit all over HIIT workouts. I’m not here to shit on any workouts. If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll actually know I LOVE HIIT workouts.

I love the endorphin boost, and I love how much energy they give me - when my body feels like it. However, that’s coming from an avid fitness professional. The answer someone unfit might give you could be more described as “hell”, because that’s what it can feel like when you’re totally unfit.

Simply put, your workouts shouldn’t feel like hell. Definitely not as a beginner. Doing something that feels like hell certainly isn’t motivating enough to want to do it again. Why on earth would anyone want to voluntarily do something they hate?

You don’t need to go “all guns blazing” from the get go, and instead you want to lay some solid foundations. Foundations you can build upon, and foundations you enjoy laying. Soon enough, those foundations will become daily or weekly habits, and then you can start to progress - and that’s a win!

So many people see starting “small” as not strong enough or quick enough progression, but starting small is starting somewhere and that’s progression in itself.

I saw an NHS advert the other day that said “the first step is taking the first few steps” and I was impressed at how bang on that is.

You don’t need to be taking a giant leap into the deep end. You certainly don’t want to give yourself an injury, and you don’t want to live a life of misery trying to get fit.

Instead of HIIT workouts as a beginner, why not give these following things a go to lay your solid foundations?

Start walking more

Why is walking SO underrated? I don’t know. Instead of seeking out a HIIT workout, go for a long walk. It’ll be easier and softer on your joints, and if you’re worried about not burning enough calories, I’m here to tell you that walking does still burn calories! Just because an exercise isn’t as “intense”, your body is still expending energy.

You can intensify your walks, add some intervals of faster and slower paces, or you can keep your walk at a steady state. Whatever you wish! But this is definitely the first port of call I’d always to suggest to anybody starting out on their fitness journey. You can see how much I rave about walking on my TikTok. I basically don’t shut up about it.

Start with light weight training

Resistance training is for everyone! I don’t expect you to stroll into the gym and start bashing out 100kg deadlifts, but you can certainly start with a barbell and begin to learn some movement patterns.

You don’t have to be the strongest and you don’t have to kill yourself during the workout either. Learning and understanding fundamental movement patterns is absolutely vital before going heavier, harder or faster, to make sure you build good foundations and limit the risk of injury. You’ll also feel like an absolute boss too!

Add just 10 minutes of exercise in a few times per week

10 minutes sounds nowhere near as daunting, right? And it also is way more achievable! The point of starting here is so that it’s realistic and you don’t feel like a failure. You’re more likely to get them done, and guess what, you’re more likely to continue and ACTUALLY feel good about it!

You’ll be ticking off your workouts, feeling like a boss, and encouraged for the next one. Rather than missing your workout because you can’t be bothered, it’s too daunting and you hated the last time you did it because you felt so unfit.

Trust me on this one! You’ll also get used to scheduling the time into your diary, even if they’re short and sweet! This is laying some prep and ground work and a good habit to get used to before adding in slightly longer workouts, building them up in 5 minute increments every 3-4 weeks.

Work on your nutrition

The food you eat determines how much energy you do or don’t have. So, before throwing yourself into anything where you expend energy, you want to make sure you’ve got energy first.

Don’t overlook your nutrition, and make sure you’re fuelling your body efficiently. That doesn’t mean cutting carbohydrates and eating 1,300 calories a day, but instead focusing on getting foods in your body that FUEL you, and energise you. Foods that uplift you, rather than drain you.

Once you’ve nailed these, and you’ve built some strength and confidence, by all means, jump into some HIIT.

Ultimately, for HIIT workouts, you need to have strong muscles, joints and bones! Without these things, you’re more likely to open yourself up to injury. If you’re sedentary all day and then jump into a HIIT, your body is gonna think “what the actual f…”, and more likely to hurt yourself.

It’s so easy to think F*** IT and want to jump in the deep end because you’re suddenly motivated, but I promise you, that burst of motivation doesn’t last.

Healthy, sustainable and consistent habits are what last, and that’s what’s going to take you from being out of breath and unfit, to feeling a much more confident and fitter version of yourself.


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