Do you tend to get bored or tired of the same cardio routine day in and day out? Do you skip cardio workouts because you just simply hate them? This shouldn’t be an issue since there are so many great choices for cardiovascular exercises to always keep your training sessions fun and interesting. You don’t have to get bored doing the same things but you might be limited on your choices of different machines at your local gym or at home. One way to freshen up your cardio training and make it more fun is to challenge yourself with HIIT training. This stands for High Intensity Interval Training and it’s an excellent way to burn lots of fat and calories! It is performed according to your fitness level so anyone can do it as long as they are testing their limits during the higher intervals (safely, of course). You can use this form of cardio training with machines like the treadmill, elliptical and bike or you can do exercises like sprints, jump rope and running stairs.
HIIT cardio is an extremely popular form of cardiovascular exercise that many people are now doing in place of “steady state” cardio where you basically workout at the same intensity level for the entire session such as walking on the treadmill or riding a stationary bike for an hour. Men and women are using this type of cardio training to achieve excellent results in fat loss and it’s also popular among competitors like CrossFit athletes. It takes away from the traditional fat loss cardio work by shortening your total exercise workout time and using super intense intervals within 20-25 minutes. You go hard and intense for short amount of time and then you’re all finished. This is the reason why people with busy schedules love including HIIT cardio workouts into their training routine so they can get in and out quickly but also get a killer workout in that produces results.
Bodybuilders like using HIIT cardio because they feel it does not take away from their bodies’ ability to produce lean muscle gains. Many hardcore bodybuilders do not like to do too much cardio since they think it can be catabolic (breaks down muscle tissue) which limits their overall gains. They feel HIIT cardio does not hinder but actually enhances strength and explosive power which is critical to bodybuilding success.
The normal amount of time that you will perform HIIT cardio can range from 10-25 minutes per session. One way to do it is to increase your speed on a recumbent bike every minute for a certain amount of time (30-60 seconds) and then slow down to a normal pace for the same amount of time in the recovery phase. You can slowly increase the overall time each session but it’s important to go really hard for the entire period where the intensity level is high. So, if you start getting tired after 60 seconds then limit your high intensity time to this period and then move into your slower phase to recover. Here is a sample HIIT cardio workout using a stationary bike:
- Warmup on the bike for 5 minutes at a normal pace to get your muscles warm.
- Pedal hard for 60 seconds (intensity level should be about 8-9).
- Slow down to a normal pace for 60 seconds.
- Repeat this for 10 sets for a total workout session consisting of 25 minutes.
Some people like to add a longer recovery interval as they will need to catch their breath to get ready for the next set. You want to push yourself hard but make sure you get adequate rest in between since you want to maximize the high intensity periods to get the most results from HIIT cardio.
If you’re just starting out, make sure to use very short high intensity interval period of around 15-30 seconds. You might think this is too short but wait until you really push yourself and go as hard as you can for the entire time. I guarantee you will be screaming for mercy! It’s truly an amazing workout program that will test even the most experienced athletes.
Your overall fat loss is and will always be mainly dependent on your diet and the foods you eat. Remember, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet! So, understand that to make HIIT cardio workouts truly effective for fat burning you will need to eat the right kinds of nutrient dense foods and watch your overall calories. Portion control is great but you should never be hungry so always include a meal every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day. Choose the right foods and go heavy on dark leafy greens, protein and moderate on starches such as oatmeal, carrots, squash, tubers and grains later at night if your goal is to get shredded. Limiting starchy carbs at night helps to control your insulin levels which you burn more body fat.