This is Kris with ShapeFit.com and today we have a great cardio workout for you. We are going to be doing HIIT training which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. The reason why this is such a great cardio workout is because it involves something called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). EPOC is an increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity. The reason why this is so important is because EPOC is also referred to as the “afterburn” effect and it’s when you do cardio at such a high intensity level that your body actually continues to burn calories and fat after your workout is over (post-exercise).
The location for our HIIT cardio workout today is in beautiful Tampa, Florida at the Tampa Convention Center which is located in the downtown waterfront area. Our cardio workout consists of running stair sprints for 2-4 repetitions and then immediately moving into 1 minute of jump rope at 100% intensity. Each repetition on the stair sprints is all the way up and all the way down. You want to transition directly into the second exercise (jumping rope) with no rest. After your first set, take a 60-90 second break to rest and recover and then start your second set. Your goal is to shoot for 3-5 sets for this cardio workout. If you are just starting HIIT training, then adjust the sets and reps to fit your fitness level. You might only be able to do 1 rep of stair sprints (all the way and down) and then do 30 seconds of jump rope. That is totally fine and just make sure you give 100% effort and keep your intensity level super high throughout the entire set to get the most out of this workout.
The total training time for this HIIT cardio workout will only be 20-25 minutes maximum. With the EPOC system, you will be burning calories and fat after your workout with that “afterburn” effect, so this works perfectly for someone who has a busy schedule and only has a small window of time during the day to get a workout in. You basically get the most bang for your buck with this type of cardio workout regimen. You’re not going to be sitting on a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill for an hour doing slow and steady cardio. This is super intense and short, so you will hit it hard and then be finished in order to relax and recover after your workout.
HIIT Cardio Workout – 1st Exercise
For the stair sprints, you want to explode up all the way to the top and then carefully come back down. If you’re a beginner, make sure to hit every step on the way up. For the more advanced athletes, try to skip steps which will allow you to make it to the top much faster and really sprint all the way up. Shoot for 2-4 full reps on the stair sprints (all the way up and then back down equals 1 full repetition) and then move immediately to the next exercise in the set which will be the jump rope.
HIIT Cardio Workout – 2nd Exercise
For the jump rope, you want to go all out for a full 60 seconds with 100% intensity and really push yourself hard. The best jump rope technique to use when doing HIIT cardio training is the alternating single foot style since it allows you to go very fast. A great tool to use with this exercise to keep track of the time is an interval timer which you can set to 1 minute and it will beep or vibrate once the time is up. You can also use your watch if it has a countdown timer on it. After 1 full minute of jump rope, you will rest for 60-90 seconds and then begin your second set.
There is a debate between slow and steady cardio versus high intensity cardio and whether which cardio regimen is better for overall fat burning. The slow and steady cardio crowd’s argument is that when you do slower cardio in your “fat burning zone”, you will burn more calories from fat versus from carbohydrates, which is better. Carbs are the main source being burned when the intensity increases, which happens when you do HIIT cardio. When you can target fat as the primary source of energy being burned at a slower level of intensity, the more overall body fat can be burned.
The high intensity cardio crowd’s argument involves the overall number of calories being burned during the workout. So, if you can burn 500 calories with a HIIT cardio workout (high intensity interval training) that only takes 20 minutes to complete versus only burning 250 calories from a slow and steady cardio workout which takes 60 minutes to complete, you will burn more overall fat due to the total calorie expenditure during the HIIT cardio workout. The “afterburn” effect also comes into play since after your workout is over, you will continue to burn calories and fat post-exercise since your level of intensity was so high that it basically shocks your system. Since it takes 3,500 calories to burn 1 pound of fat, the HIIT cardio workout will burn twice the amount of calories in much less time which makes it the ideal workout program to use when you have a limited window of time during the day to get your workout in.
Whether you choose slow and steady cardio or high intensity cardio, it really comes down to your current fitness level. If you’re a beginner or if you have any type of injuries, HIIT cardio is probably not going to be your best choice since it is very intense and puts stress on your joints (knees, etc). For example, today we are going to be running stair sprints and doing jump rope for our cardio workout. If you have knee issues or you’re a beginner with very little training experience, this will be much harder for you versus doing slower intensity cardio like walking on the treadmill or riding the stationary bike.
Even though HIIT cardio workouts are amazing, since they are super high intensity you probably will not be able to do these every day of the week, so my advice is to actually incorporate both training styles into your overall fitness program. If you usually do 6 days of cardio per week, do slow and steady cardio for 4 days and mix in HIIT cardio sessions twice a week. The more advanced you become, start incorporating more HIIT training sessions with a few slow and steady cardio workouts per week. It’s always good to listen to your body and adjust your training to how you feel. If you’re burned out and tired one week, cut back on the HIIT cardio and implement more lower intensity cardio with slow and steady sessions for that week. It all depends on how you feel, since you absolutely want to avoid overtraining and putting your body into a state where it’s basically “catabolic” or “breaking down” versus anabolic and “building up”. When you overtrain, your body is so tired and overworked that it starts to increase levels of cortisol, which is your body’s stress hormone. In this state, you slowly become catabolic which means you start breaking down muscle tissue and your strength levels start to decrease. You want to avoid overtraining at all costs, so make sure to really listen to your body and rest when you need it!