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A Guide to Functional HIIT

Updated: Jun 28


What is Functional HIIT?

Functional training refers to the groups of exercises that mimics or supports day-to-day, occupational or sporting activities and allows people to train in ways that will support their everyday life. An example of this is the ‘farmer’s carry’ exercise which replicates the action of carrying heavy shopping bags and focuses on maintaining core control and strength. It may also involve medicine ball squats, which people may use to train picking their child up from the ground.

HIIT (or High-Intensity Interval Training) is a form of training that involves short bursts of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

When combined, Functional HIIT offers people an efficient and effective method of maintaining various aspects of fitness. In this method, functional training is mixed in with aerobic activity to increase cardiovascular fitness. CrossFit incorporates a lot of Functional HIIT training, and is often used as an interchangeable term for Functional HIIT.


Benefits of Functional HIIT

There are many benefits of Functional HIIT programs, including:

·       Improved cardiovascular fitness

·       Improved strength

·       Improved balance

·       Easily accessible for the general population

·       Maximizing efficiency of a workout

·       Reducing risk of injury during everyday activities

·       Variety of programs

·       Fat loss

·       Requires minimal equipment

Preventing injuries whilst Functional Training

1.      Gradually build load up over time

A common mistake in functional training is doing too much too soon. This can overload your body’s tissues and lead to potential muscle strains, tendinopathies and other injuries. Start off with lighter weights and workloads before gradually increasing. Use the first 4 weeks of functional HIIT training to adjust and monitor your starting load.


2.      Warm up appropriately with dynamic stretches and mobility work

Functional training requires the body to move, and therefore we want to make sure that your body is prepared for these tasks. For example, doing a simple squat requires you to have good hip, knee and ankle mobility, so doing mobility exercises to improve this will go a long way in helping your body safely complete a task. Dynamic stretches are best as a warm up and have been shown to increase blood flow to the muscles.


3.      Allow adequate rest

The evidence supports that rest is required following functional training. This allows the body to repair at a tissue level and can improve your performance.


4.      Address niggles quickly

Do not leave niggles for weeks on end before getting them checked or mentioning them to your trainer. These small irritations may start as just a niggle, but over time can cause the body to compensate and put undue stress on other tissues.


5.      Nutrition and hydration are key

Ensuring appropriate nutrition before, during and after your exercise as this will assist greatly in your performance and recovery.

HYROX is an annual event held in Melbourne where people can compete in a Functional HIIT course. As Physiotherapists that are very familiar with this style of training, we are here to assist you with any questions about your Functional HIIT.

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