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Beginner HIIT Mistakes

10 Ways to Ruin Your HIIT Class (and How to Not Be That Person)

It's important to get the most out of your workout — that includes being safe, ensuring good form, fueling up properly, and not wasting any time! Whether you're brand new to circuit training or a seasoned vet, you might be making one or all of these mistakes . . . rookie mistakes that Barry's Bootcamp trainer Erica Stenz says she sees every day in her classes. Use this list of trainer secrets as your checklist of what NOT to do in your next training session at Barry's, in a HIIT class, or at your gym.

  1. Coming Without Water: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. "What's the one thing you need to bring to my class at Barry's? A water bottle!" said Erica. She noted that breaking to find a water fountain or stepping outside your class to get water will take away from those precious minutes of your workout — "Every second of your workout counts, so make the most of it!" Plus, being dehydrated during a workout is dangerous. You could cramp up, become dizzy, or even vomit. Not ideal for a class that's supposed to make you feel strong and awesome.
  2. Not Having Extra Weights: For any kind of strength training, it's important to have two sets of weights so you can condition yourself to get stronger — this is also crucial for ensuring you have good form! "You should always work out with two sets of weights by your side: a lighter set and heavier set (probably three to five pounds heavier)," said Erica. "That way you're never stuck with too light or too heavy [weights]." This also ensures that you're not going back and forth to the weight rack, also shaving minutes off of your workout time. If you're doing multiple sets of strength training, "You'll likely want to go a little heavier on the second set because of muscle memory," she said. "When your muscles adapt and learn the movements," you can go a little heavier. For newbies to class, Erica said, "I recommend a lighter set of weights that you can drop down to while your body is adapting to a more intensive kind of training. That way you don't injure yourself as you start your new workout routine."
  3. Not Coming Early Enough: This applies to HIIT classes, Barry's, and pretty much any workout — come early! Don't show up RIGHT when class starts. No one wants to feel rushed or stressed! "It's the number one mistake that my newbies make when they are trying out my class for the first time," said Erica. "Come early to your class and introduce yourself to the instructor (or I'll find you!) to help you get the best first-time experience." This applies to vets too — you never want to show up right on time and be setting up your space or equipment while class is already in session. "For my regulars — it's still so important for you to come early to foam roll before class and warm up with me." In addition to getting settled, you'll also want to check your form and go over any injuries with your trainer for safety's sake. Take this trainer's advice and give yourself a few minutes to prepare before every single class.
  4. Leaving Too Early (Skipping the Stretch): In addition to not rushing into class late, it's imperative that you don't leave class early, either. In fact, skipping the cooldown can mess with cortisol levels, making you more stressed. Erica says, "You need AT LEAST five minutes of stretch at the end of your workout to prevent injury; ideally 10-15 minutes would be great." Try not to schedule workouts into such a tight schedule that you can't take five minutes for a stretch.
  5. Not Packing Deodorant: Common courtesy, gym etiquette, etc. When you smell bad, you're ruining the class for the people around you. Don't be that person. "I carry deodorant in my purse, my backpack, my Six-Pack [gym] bag, and in my locker, so I can be ready to work out anytime. It's exercise etiquette, people!"
  6. Not Refueling: Grab a protein shake or a post-workout snack with protein after class! Your body is burning tons of calories up to 24 hours after a strength and cardio workout, so make sure you're properly refueling. "I recommend a protein shake within 30 minutes after an hour of high-intensity workout like Barry's Bootcamp or a full protein-packed meal within 60 minutes after your workout — for men and women," said Erica. "Feed your muscles!"
  7. Eating Too Close to Class: On that note of properly fueling, while it's good to eat before a workout, eating too close to your workout can be detrimental — Erica mentioned she's definitely seen people throw up in class. Timing is everything! Give yourself a window to digest. "Eat 60 minutes before a cardio workout or 30 minutes before a strength-training workout." If it's a mixed class like Barry's, give yourself that full hour.
  8. Drinking Sugary Drinks: If you're chugging Powerade or Gatorade or another electrolyte drink before or during a 45- to 60-minute class, you've gone too far. "You don't need a Gatorade for a 60-minute class," said Erica. "You're just consuming the sugar and calories that you are burning!" She also noted how pre-workout drinks can be addicting, and to use them sparingly. "Just keep it to water for my class . . . and any 60-minute workout!"
  9. Forgetting a Towel and Mat: Erica told us that when you're exercising, you're already putting yourself through "voluntary pain" — but you should make sure you're as comfortable as possible and protect your back and joints for your strength training and floor work. "Call me a princess if you want, but definitely don't forget a towel and a mat for your bench!" Keeping a towel nearby will also help keep your space clean from sweat, which can prevent injury-causing slips.
  10. Not Cleaning Up After Yourself: Another etiquette tip: clean your space. Erica emphasized treating your workout space as you would your home. "Please remember that you are sharing your workout space with others, whether you're at the gym or in a studio class," she said. "Exercise etiquette and respect goes a long way — make the place a positive home for your other badass fit friends!"
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