Is HIIT Dangerous for Young Athletes?

High intensity exercises with short rest periods in between… doesn’t sound too safe, does it? Well surprisingly, there are a lot of benefits when performing high intensity interval training, and HIIT is becoming more and more popular!

What exactly is HIIT?

HIIT helps build endurance by causing metabolic adaptations. It also is a much more time and cost efficient way to workout, because you burn calories and fat in a much shorter amount of time! HIIT is also great for improving heart function, aerobic fitness, metabolism, blood glucose levels, fat loss, and overall fitness! A very common form of HIIT is “Tabata”, which is interval training lasting for 4 minutes. The 4 minutes are broken up as 20 seconds of hard work following by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times.

Bursts of high intensity interval training with short rests showed a much-increased rate of improvement in athletes aerobic (with oxygen) energy systems, and anaerobic (without oxygen) energy systems.

If you already implement HIIT with your athletes, that’s amazing! I’d love to hear about the athlete experiences in the comment section below. If you were interested in implementing HIIT with your athletes, a good tip would be to use a stopwatch and body weight strength exercises. Encourage your athletes to take a break whenever they need to, to drink water when needed, and ask if they need a modification for an exercise! If you’re unsure of how many HIIT workouts to implement within a week, start off with one and see how your athletes feel a couple days after… then try to work up to 2-3 sessions per week!

An example of a tabata workout would be:

  1. Body weight squats -> 10 seconds rest
  2. Push ups -> 10 seconds rest
  3. Lateral lunge to knee drive -> 10 seconds rest
  4. Plank taps -> 10 seconds rest

Then repeat the cycle one more time!

A big safety concern with HIIT is people who have been living sedentary lifestyles. Thankfully, athletes are the complete opposite! In addition, family history, cigarette smoking, hypertension, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, and obesity are also safety concerns.

As someone who does HIIT on the regular, I have to say it’s super beneficial, fun and effective! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

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Nikki de Ocampo is the Domestic Development Intern at Canada Basketball. She is currently pursuing her Health Sciences Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion at Sheridan College, and has a passion for holistic health and wellness.

 

 

 

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