Trainers and strength coaches are fond of pointing out that HIIT workouts are much more time efficient than steady-state cardio workouts, which is great, because lack of time is the most often-cited reason for not exercising. This notion is highly problematic, because in fact everyone has time to exercise.
The time excuse indicates a lack of motivation to work out, not a lack of time. Now, it so happens that HIIT is very painful. So, do you think that people who are so unmotivated to work out that they create a time excuse are going to be more motivated to suffer greatly in their workouts? Not a chance. The time excusers are the very last people who are going to tolerate immoderate agony in exercise.
If lack of time really were the reason most people did not exercise, then HIIT might present a legitimate solution, but it’s not, and it doesn’t.
The trainers and strength coaches underestimate the importance of enjoying exercise. Research by exercise psychologists shows that the more people enjoy exercise, the more likely they are to adhere to it, and they are more likely to enjoy exercise when they are able to freely choose a comfortable exercise intensity.
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“But they’re not getting as much bang for their buck when they do that!” cry the no pain, no gain proponents.
Yes, but at least they’re still at it a year later.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of suffering in workouts, and I believe that developing a taste for real exertion is important. But for those who are not already committed to exercise, enjoyment should be prioritized in workout formatting, not narrow physiological rationales.