Can You Handle HIit?

11.2.2017 | Forge Performance

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

We love HIIT in the Fitness Industry! Don’t we? We write articles upon articles about why and fun ways to do it, but have you ever taken a step back to see if this is right for you? I’ll tell you it probably IS, but are you ready for it or is there something we should do to make sure we can get the most out of it and not demand more from our body than it can handle.

So let’s take a step back and see if we are READY to Handle HIIT.

First Test

Your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is the easiest low effort method to begin measuring your cardiovascular health and determine if you have enough of a “Base” to support higher intensity activity.

How to Test

Upon waking up in the morning, before getting out of bed, find your  pulse and count the number of beats you feel in 20 sec. Multiply by 3 and that is your RHR X bpm.  Do this for a couple days and get an average. Check the table below to see where you stand.  If your resting heart rate is significantly higher or lower than the ranges provided you should probably consult a professional to check off any possible health concerns. If your RHR is just slightly higher than the example ranges it is a good sign you are in need of our tempo based low-moderate intensity conditioning paired with your strength training before worrying about more activity-specific conditioning.

Resting Heart Rate for MEN



26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65


Athlete (BPM)


49-54 50-56 50-57 51-56




55-61 57-62 58-63 57-61




62-65 63-66 64-67 62-67


Above Average


66-70 67-70 68-71 68-71




71-74 71-75 72-76 72-75


Below Average


75-81 76-82 77-83 76-81


Poor 82+ 82+ 83+ 84+ 82+ 80+


Resting Heart Rate for WOMEN

Age 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
Athlete (BPM) 54-60 54-59 54-59 54-60 54-59 54-59
Excellent 61-65 60-64 60-64 61-65 60-64 60-64
Good 66-69 65-68 65-69 66-69 65-68 65-68
Above Average 70-73 69-72 70-73 70-73 69-73 69-72
Average 74-78 73-76 74-78 74-77 74-77 73-76
Below Average 79-84 77-82 79-84 78-83 78-83 77-84
Poor 85+ 83+ 85+ 84+ 84+ 84+


Second Test

Heart rate recovery.  While there are some people who emphasize cardio too much, there are also those who don’t give it enough attention.  Following any activity that creates an increased heart rate, we want to measure how well your body recovers from that activity.


Let’s say, for example, you wanted to perform High Intensity 30 second sprints for your workout because you read that was what is best for fat loss so you head into the gym. Put 20 mins on the clock and get started.  You may recall the feeling of the near-death experience following your first sprint and the 6 mins of lying on the ground needed before you do your next one.

We need to develop Strength in order to push to our limit and get the most out of HIIT (check out our article on this topic if you would like to see why), But you also want to be able to RECOVER from these bouts in order to be able to do ENOUGH to elicit the training responses you are hoping for.

The same applies in strength training, if you take 5 minutes to recover from a set of 10 reps, it’ll take you all day to get a workout in with the volume needed to get the response you are looking for.  If you can recover well enough to hit 5 sets of 5 instead of 2-3 in the same timeframe, you will see the benefit.

How to Test

Following something like the MAS test discussed earlier, check your heart-rate immediately upon finishing the test, then again after 1 min of recovery and at 2 min of recovery.  An adequate base of recovery would be 25-30 bpm decrease in heart rate.  Anything less than this and you would benefit from low-moderate intensity tempo work before worrying about activity specific training.


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