As good as it might feel to do an intense HIIT workout every day, there’s one major problem with the regimen: You’re not giving your body time to heal. There is a reason why recovery is essentially becoming its own fitness modality and a prime part of workout warriors’ routines (there are entire studios dedicated to it!) after all: Letting your body rest is a crucial part of your healthy progress.
“Recovery is one of the most important aspects of a successful training regimen, but for some reason, it’s commonly overlooked,” John Gallucci, Jr., physical therapist and president of JAG Physical Therapy, told Self. “Especially after intense or prolonged training, your body needs time to repair tissues that have broken down.”
“Recovery is one of the most important aspects of a successful training regimen, but for some reason, it’s commonly overlooked. Especially after intense or prolonged training, your body needs time to repair tissues that have broken down.” —John Gallucci, Jr., physical therapist
According to Gallucci, that much-needed time not training is exactly when your muscles get stronger, and scheduling too many training sessions back-to-back interrupts the body’s rebuilding process that gives you the results you’ve been working so hard for. But what’s the right amount of time to rest between workouts? Well, it depends on intensity.
Since HIIT in particular involves every muscle group in the body, you should only be doing it every other day at most to give your body time to rebuild, Gallucci said. But any form of cardio that’s light-to-moderate intensity is A-okay to do daily, unless that involves targeting one specific area especially hard. Since cycling mostly focuses on the legs, for instance, you might avoid doing another leg workout the day after a spin class.
If you’re not really sure what you should do, personal trainer Jen Jewell told Self a helpful rule of thumb to go by is to simply give your body 24 to 48 hours of rest before retraining the same muscle group. You’ll still get your HIIT sessions in, but following this tip also presents the opportunity to fill your schedule with other fun workouts to try that’ll keep your body guessing (and constantly building and toning).
Check out the totally versatile pieces one HIIT trainer swears by. Or, try out an intense at-home workout that will make you feel the burn.