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I am about to begin a training program and am 30kg overweight. After reading one of your articles, I am not sure if I should attempt HIIT cardio. What would be your advice?

Thanks very much for your question.

Just to clarify to anyone reading this Q&A, I do not for a single second believe that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a waste of time.  I am a very strong advocator of the very significant health, fitness and weight loss benefits of this form of exercise, as is very apparent throughout this website.

However, I do not believe that it is always suitable for the beginner to jump head-first into such a demanding exercise regime.  There are a two major reasons that I have for stance:

  • HIIT is very intense and requires a lot of mental and physical toughness.  A person that goes from a low-activity lifestyle to a contrasting HIIT exercise regime can often be extremely discouraged by the unexpected toll it can take on your system.
  • Your body does need time to adjust to increased levels of activity.  HIIT is an advanced form of training that will place your body under extreme physical stress.  Your body may have trouble adapting to such a demanding form of exercise in such a short period of time.  This can pose health risks.

Therefore I would not recommend that you begin HIIT straight off the bat.  Whilst it is desirable to lose the weight as quickly as possible, it is also important to consider your health and the long-term sustainability of your training program.

As a general guide, I would recommend that you begin with a relatively low intensity exercise routine to allow your body a chance to become used to the increased physical demands. It is hard to advise a specific length of time based on the information provided.  You should begin with enough intensity to break a sweat and feel worked, but not too much that you feel like you're going to fall over and collapse :).  From there, it is important to continually up-the-ante, so to speak.  Gradually increase the demands of the exercise program (through duration and/or intensity).  Eventually you will reach a level where HIIT will be a much more viable option.  You may want to read an article I published on this subject, entitled The Art Of Adaptation 

Before you begin anything, I highly recommend that you consult with a personal trainer to aid you in your weight loss efforts.  A relatively small financial investment is negligible when you consider the invaluable benefits a personal trainer will provide - namely very specific advice on how to achieve your goals in a safe, effective and sustainable manner.  I offer these services both online and face-to-face - click here for more information.

I hope this is of help!

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