There is no medical reason why an overweight person cannot or should not do high intensity interval training (HIIT).
However, the modality of the exercise would certainly come into play for an extra heavy body.
- High intensity interval training doesn’t have to be speedy or fast in order to be effective.
- The ability to run is not required.
Many people associate high intensity interval training with sprinting and jumping.
Though fitter, swifter people who want to do HIIT will be drawn to sprinting and jumping as the modes, this does not mean that slow movement can’t be effective for a HIIT workout.
Effort Is the Key
High intensity interval training is about effort, not speed.
An effective HIIT session for a very overweight man or woman could be their fastest walk — absolute fastest — up a slight hill in a road.
After about 30 seconds, they can then walk slowly and comfortably in the opposite direction back to where they began, catching their breath all the way.
After a minute or two, they can then power walk — truly as quickly as possible — once again down the road.
Though this isn’t a speedy workout, it’ll be quite effective for a very heavy person whose body is only used to slow movement.
At an all-out effort of charging up that slight hill, this will be enough to really exhaust the overweight body, even though running or high speeds are not involved.
Staircase charging is another option. For a plus size individual, briskly marching up steps can be grueling — and very effective at burning fat.
Other than Walking
Walking as fast as possible is but one of many modes for HIIT.
Other options for an obese man or woman include quickly stepping up and down the first stair of a staircase, and cardio equipment such as an elliptical machine and stationary bike.
This means pedaling for about half a minute at your maximal speed, relative to the pedal resistance.
Following that would be an easy pedal for one or two minutes.
Then after your recovery interval, you repeat the sprint pedaling.
The bottom line is that the settings for that 30 second segment are such that 30 seconds leave you nearly breathless.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.