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Addicted To HIIT? Use These Tactics To Optimize Performance, Recover Smarter, And Avoid Workout Burnout

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hiit, hiit training, high intensity interval training, hit training, hiit workout, hiit recovery, exercise recovery, workout recovery, interval training, high intensity training


We preach the merits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on a nonstop basis. Our WOTMs and workout gauntlets have HIIT-based principles baked into their DNA, featuring everything from supersetted and supercircuited resistance training to incendiary cardio sessions. Hell, February’s brand new WOTM took it up 13 levels into the world of uber-HIIT (UHIIT).

2014 was, and 2015 is going to be, all about pushing limits, slashing rest periods, and condensing MORE volume into a shorter time window.

The net effect is a HARDER workout that produces gargantuan results in a fraction of the time; including accelerated muscle growth, improved VO2Max (a marker of cardiovascular fitness), greater explosive power, elevated metabolism, and significantly reduced body fat.

Compared to mind-numbing steady state cardio, there’s no contest — studies show that HIIT cardio pumps out TWICE the body fat loss in half the time, with minimal muscle loss to accompany it.1

“Studies show that HIIT cardio pumps out TWICE the body fat loss in half the time.”

And fitness classes are finally picking up on the high-octane power of the HIIT trend — just look at the studios driving ClassPass. Boutique shops are transforming into workout juggernauts—especially in places like New York and LA—with the likes of Crossfit, Flywheel, Tone House, Row House, Barry’s Bootcamp and other hellacious classes becoming trendy hot spots.

But as miraculous and transformative as HIIT-styled workouts can be, they’re a stark and shocking change for the uninitiated. If you’re just jumping in aimlessly for the first time, it’s highly likely that you’ll feel run down and deflated after a session or two. You might not even be able to finish the workout you’re doing, and if you do, your muscles will be excruciatingly sore.

And that’s expected. It’s no joke. That’s one of the ways athletes develop Overtraining Syndrome.

HIIT workouts are, well, intense by design, and they’re EXTREMELY hard on the body. Respect that, otherwise it’ll wreck you. To compensate and keep up—because after all, the goal is to excel at a high level—it’s critical to recalibrate your diet and nutrition, up your supplementation game, and implement effective recovery tactics, especially if you’re gunning to indulge on the regular.

We’re all-in on HIIT. Make it your go-to workout. But use our 6-pack of HIIT tactics to keep your body fresh and performance at peak levels.


6 Tactics To Optimize Performance, Recover Smarter, And Avoid Workout Burnout

hiit, hiit training, high intensity interval training, hit training, hiit workout, hiit recovery, exercise recovery, workout recovery, interval training, high intensity training



This one is obvious, yet most people don’t actually do it. It’s like playing craps with house money and leaving your chips on the table — don’t waste the opportunity.

Depending on the format, intensity, and methods used, HIIT-based workouts can burn anywhere from 700-1250 calories per hour. And that’s JUST during the workout itself — it doesn’t account for the “afterburn” effect that lasts for 1-2 days afterwards. That afterburn is known as EPOC—excess post-exercise oxygen consumption—which sparks a prolonged metabolism boost as the body attempts to return to its relaxed, resting state.

Translated: you need to EAT more. Like, a lot more to compensate for the heightened calorie burn. Those additional calories spark recovery, help regenerate muscle tissue, and refill the fuel stores in your muscles. They also directly power your future workouts and ensure that strength and performance are at elite levels.

Your move — on workout days, beef up your pre- and post-workout meals.


2. Eat More of the RIGHT Foods.

hiit, hiit training, high intensity interval training, hit training, hiit workout, hiit recovery, exercise recovery, workout recovery, interval training, high intensity training

Jacking up your caloric intake is step #1, but those calories still need to be clean and rationed out in a calculated manner. It’s not an excuse to mindlessly scarf down McDonald’s and Taco Bell.

HIIT has 3 major implications on energy use and nutritional strategy. Both of these are mandatory for thriving before, during, and after the onslaught, and ultimately constructing an elite physique out of your hard work (and not one that looks tired and anemic).

  • (1) Up your carbs. HIIT and intense weight-lifting are predominantly anaerobic activities, which means they function without oxygen. Because of that, they primarily churn through stored carbs (aka glycogen) and glucose as the major fuel source. Read the graph above. As aerobic power—aka training intensity—increases, your body progressively relies more and more on carbs for fuel (not fat).
    • Your diet needs to reflect that — elevated carb intake is mandatory if you hope to survive AND perform at a high level.
  • (2) Up your protein. Shocker, but vigorous lifting is a stellar way to build new muscle mass, especially when you’re using heavy weights. It also mutilates muscle fibers in the process. Protein intake needs to shoot up to help repair, rebuild, and contruct new muscle tissue.
    • Aim for at least 1G/protein/LB bodyweight, per day. We recommend chugging a protein shake post-workout as an easy way to compensate.
  • (3) Over hydrate. If your sweat waterfalls are any indication, water loss is at a premium during any intense HIIT session. Restoring that, by hyper-hydrating beyond your normal H2O consumption, is extremely important. Additionally, stored carbs in your muscles (glycogen) carry water along with it. As you increase carb intake to support your workouts, make sure to over hydrate along with it.
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References, Notes, Links

  1. Lean It UP — 5 HIIT Workouts You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Incinerate Fat In Under 15 Minutes []


Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • Bruno Guedes

    Great article! For someone like me who only does endurance and HIIT circuit training I was under the impression that carbs, even if clean, would get in the way of burning fat.
    This is still one of the areas I’m struggling with the most: what to eat and when? Would you recommend loading up on carbs before such workouts and relying more on protein post-workout or to have it spread evenly throughout my meals?

    • What you eat should be dictated by your training. As a really simple, general rule to follow, both your pre- AND post-workout meals should be heavy on (clean) carbs and protein, lower in fat.

      For high-intensity training, in particular, your body needs carbs to drive performance. Performance translates to muscle gain, more fat burned, progress, etc.

      • Bruno Guedes

        Got it! Thanks for the reply, will try and make the adjustment to those two meals and and see how it feels.

  • Stephanie

    You mention that HIIT uses primarily carbs as fuel but I was under the impression that it relied more on fat which is why is was so effective for weight loss. Can you clarify or elaborate?

  • Sean

    In regards to number one, how are we supposed to eat enough to make up for the calorie burn if we’re cutting and have a caloric deficit? For example, I”m going to start cutting in January and I’ll be subtracting 300-500 calories from what I would need on average daily, so if I’m eating more wouldn’t it ruin the point of doing that in the first place?