HIIT Workouts Burn Fat but Risk More Injuries, Says Research

HIIT Workouts and Injury RiskHigh intensity interval training has become a much-loved workout method for people who want to squeeze the most out of every minute of training. Popular among those who are very busy or who simply don’t want to spend a lot of time exercising, H.I.I.T. makes it possible to squeeze a highly effective workout into a short period of time.

That said, all those extra H.I.I.T. benefits may come at a cost to those who work out using this style of workout. According to new research, the same thing that is keeping you in shape may also be placing you at a heightened risk of injuries when compared to other forms of workout.

A team of researchers at Rutgers used National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data to find that there was a 144 percent increase in exercise related injuries in the span of time from 2012 through 2016 when compared to the span of time running from 2007 through 2011. The types of exercises most likely to lead to injuries were those most commonly incorporated into H.I.I.T. protocols. These included burpees, lunges, push-ups, kettlebells, barbells and box jumps.

People most likely to hurt themselves were men aged 20 through 39 years old. They were most likely to hurt their shoulders, ankles or knees. The team at Rutgers said they believed that H.I.I.T. workout popularity increases explains the rising incidence of injuries. They based their understanding of the rise of the workout method’s popularity on an analysis of Google search data.

“These workouts are marketed as ‘one size fits all.’ However, many athletes, especially amateurs, do not have the flexibility, mobility, core strength and muscles to perform these exercises,” explained Dr. Joseph Ippolito, a co-author of the study and a physician in the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School department of orthopedics.

Still despite these findings, the researchers don’t feel that H.I.I.T. classes are bad. Instead, they recommend that more people speak with an instructor, trainer or other professional about pre-existing injuries or weaknesses. That way, a protocol can be developed to cater to those needs while still getting the most out of the workout.

Safer alternatives are available for many high impact movements such as box jumps. Step-ups are a good example of these types of alternatives. That way, the individual will still be doing movements that improve flexibility, mobility and strength, but that reduce the risk of injury, particularly in case of existing weakness or injury.

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