High Intensity Interval Training—often just called HIIT for short—is working its way into fitness enthusiast’s workout schedules everywhere, and not without good reason. In fact, Dr. Axe shares many different benefits of HIIT in addition to better physical fitness, a couple of which include its anti-aging effects and support of healthier levels of hormones like ghrelin (which affects your eating patterns) and leptin (the hormone responsible for making you feel full).
However, adding yoga to your current HIIT routine offers many advantages as well that can really round up your fitness game while keeping you healthy & strong. Here are just five of them.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Anyone who’s ever engaged in HIIT, or any other type of physical exercise for that matter, knows the importance of staying injury free as one twisted ankle or torn ligament can be enough to sideline your workout efforts for days, weeks, and even months if it’s severe enough. Yoga helps prevent injuries like these by improving muscle tone and flexibility, reducing the likelihood that you’ll have to take a break from your HIIT program.
More Effective Weight Loss
Weight loss is a key reason why many turn to intensified workouts, as high intensity interval training excels in building muscle and burning fat. But guess what else can support your weight loss game? That’s right! Yoga.
Adding this type of strength and flexibility training to complement your high intensity workout regimen can help you reduce the numbers on the scale at a better pace. Yoga movements and drills incorporate a combination of muscular endurance stressors, and in some forms of Yoga (Ashtanga being the premier candidate) your heartrate can actually peak due to the high-paced nature of the class. Combined, these produce a nice metabolic punch.
Admittedly, it won’t necessarily speed it up to double time, but the sooner you get to your goal weight, the better, right?
Stronger, More Toned Muscles
The American Osteopathic Association reports that one of the primary physical benefits of yoga is “increased muscle strength and tone.” This means that regularly performing poses like upward facing dog, tree pose, and garland pose can make it easier to power through your HIIT training sessions because you’ll have bigger and stronger muscles to work with. Gains anyone?!
A fourth reason HIIT exercisers should make yoga a regular part of their workout schedule is because it improves balance. Have you ever tried to do toe touches, lunges, or butt kicks and almost fallen over? Not only does this increase your risk of injury, but it also throws off your concentration as the only thing on your mind is how to stop your body from hitting the ground. Yoga keeps both of these to a minimum as it enhances your ability to stay upright, no matter what position your body is in. Yoga teaches you to stay in the zone, while reminding you the fruitful nature of slow, calculated physical work. This comes in a healthy kind of contrast, to your other HIIT fitness routine.
More Calm and Focus
Yoga offers mental benefits too, providing beginners and experienced athletes alike many different brain-based advantages when engaging in grueling HIIT sessions. For example, it improves your focus, something that is helpful when you’re trying not only to complete your high intensity exercises, but making sure you do them properly to avoid injury. Yoga also helps in keeping you clam, a benefit that extends to your HIIT workouts by making them more enjoyable because you’re not so uptight or anxious going in.
Yoga and HIIT Working In Unison
Adding yoga to your current HIIT regimen offers a number of different advantages, and these are just a few. So, your next question may be: How do I put the two together in a way that provides the most benefits?
One option to make the two types of exercise work in unison is to simply add yoga sessions to your current exercise routine. This could be by doing yoga on your non-HIIT days or even by performing the various post-HIIT workout. I wouldn’t recommend performing Yoga before an intense workout, as personally I’ve found the nature of Yoga somewhat contradictory to the physical mode and mental zone needed for HIIT workouts.
Another alternative is to create an exercise routine that effectively mixes the two very different, yet completely complementary types of physical movement. Not sure how to do that?
That’s okay; you don’t have to because there are some health professionals who’ve already created this type of routine for you. For example, Health.com offers an online 20-Minute HIIT Yoga Workout that puts the two together in a way that gives you the benefits of both in one simple exercise routine.
Just because you do HIIT doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from other forms of exercise as well. Yoga is one that works extremely well with this type of high intensity training, so add it to your current routine and you can enjoy all of these types of benefits, and more.
Orian is a certified CF-1 trainer and a CrossFit junkie, psychology student, and the CEO and Editor of Snatcher, a leading functional fitness magazine based in Israel.