#1: Crappy form. This is the most frequent mistake I see when people are doing HIIT. Because HIIT is pretty intense and take a big burst of energy and effort, people completely forget about keeping proper form in their focus on doing the hard work. I constantly remind our participants that I would rather them do less reps and do them perfectly to form rather than have crappy form and do more. Bad form can put too much strain on the joints, work the wrong targeted muscle groups, and can make you susceptible to injury.
#2: Intervals are too long. I have had people tell me that they do HIIT and their intervals are 40 seconds to a minute! This is not HIIT. Actually, unless you are some kind of Olympic athlete, it is impossible to go as hard and as fast as you can for more than about 30 seconds. This is just a law of physiology. During HIIT, your muscle fibers are working anaerobically, which limits the amount of time you can push before you start hitting major muscle fatigue and failure. Keep your HIIT reps to 15-30 seconds.
#3: Not working as hard as you can for the work periods. The reason for this I think is that most people are used to "pacing themselves" in order to work out for longer. With HIIT, you need to do the exact opposite. It's hard to wrap your brain around this new way of thinking during your workouts. You want to push it so hard that your workout is shorter. That is how you will gain the benefits of HIIT. The most important thing to remember is that if you work harder during the intervals, the shorter your workout can be! You don't need to be in the gym for an hour. If you are working super hard with minimal breaks, 10-20 minutes max is all you need for your HIIT workout!
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