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How Long Should a HIIT Workout Be?

Your HIIT Workout Is Probably Too Long, and Here's Why

It's easy to get caught up in the idea that more is more when it comes to fitness. It's common to see people running to the gym as often as possible when they're trying to lose weight, or they opt in for extralong workout sessions. But there are times when less really is more, and that applies to HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio.

This will likely be music to your ears if you're not a fan of cardio, but the HIIT workouts you're doing are probably too long. Diksha Gautham, NPC bikini bodybuilding competitor and NASM Certified Personal Trainer in progress, told POPSUGAR, "A typical HIIT workout should be done in 15-20 minutes. Longer than that and you're probably not pushing yourself to your max intensity."

This news might be both a blessing and a curse, and here's why. Diksha said HIIT is meant to target your anaerobic system, "which isn't used for endurance," so the goal is to get your heart rate very high in the short working segments. It should reach 90 percent of your max heart rate. In other words, you should be so tired at the end of each segment that you absolutely need the rest portions of HIIT workouts.

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It's precisely because you're working this hard that HIIT sessions shouldn't last more than 20 minutes (this doesn't include warmup and cooldown, though). If your workouts go over this time limit, you're probably not pushing yourself enough.

Diksha also said that you need (and deserve) to recover after a tough HIIT workout. "Our bodies need time to recover from HIIT cardio," she said. "Let your body recover for a day or two instead of doing HIIT and leg day back to back."

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rima Brindamour
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