Step Your Cardio Game Up With HIIT

When I started working out, I dreaded doing cardio. I was not much of a fan of being on the treadmill, elliptical, or stair master for nearly 45 minutes. 45 MINUTES. With a busy schedule, this is a LONG time. As time passed, I realized that exerting myself for nearly an hour wasn’t the only way to do cardio. That’s when I realized there was such a thing as HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. When I realized I could complete my cardio in 15-20 minutes, I was intrigued.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT cardio is a type of training that “involves repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times.” In other words, you perform an exercise for a short amount of time (ex. 20-30 seconds) as intensely as you can, and follow it up with a recovery period (ex. 45 seconds – 1 minute) where you are still exerting energy, just not nearly as much. Research has shown that there are numerous benefits to incorporating HIIT cardio into your training. Check out the following:

Improved Health

It has been found that HIIT cardio is “more effective than continuous moderate activity at improving cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and mechanical functions.” For people with diabetes, this type of training is incredibly effective at lowering their glucose levels because the body is able to use more oxygen and insulin in comparison to continuous moderate exercise. Additionally, because the blood vessels are able to expand more through this type of training, HIIT cardio allows blood to “flow more smoothly through arteries that are wide open,” helping reduce the risk of blood clots.

More Enjoyable

Because you aren’t doing continuous movement the entire time, HIIT cardio is usually more enjoyable. Jonathan P. Little, a specialist in exercise physiology at the University of British Columbia at Okenagan found that participants of a study enjoyed HIIT cardio more than “continuous aerobic exercise.” When you enjoy your workout, there is an increased chance that you will continue doing it. I’ve learned to enjoy it and switching up my routine every once in a while has been VERY helpful.

Fat Loss & Muscle Retention

If you’re like me, you’re going to be VERY interested in this one! HIIT cardio has been proven to “reduce body fat relative to lean muscle tissue” while maintaining muscle mass.  A 2008 study showed that HIIT “produced a greater fat reduction effect” when compared to individuals performing steady state cardio. Additonally, a HIIT cardio routine results in an increased resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours. So get on board and watch the fat drop!

Less Time

People with busy schedules are more likely to fit HIIT cardio into their schedules because it requires less time than continuous moderate exercise. An effective HIIT cardio session can be as short as 15-20 minutes. According to a Harvard Men’s Health Watch article, “interval training allows you to accomplish the same amount of exercise ‘work’ in less time.” For someone who has a very limited schedule, this is the PERFECT choice. It is time-saving and effective.

If you’re up for a challenge, try this:

Grab your favorite piece of cardio equipment – stairmaster, treadmill, elliptical, bike, YOUR CHOICE – then do the following HIIT workout 3-4 times a week and you will see results!

  • 3 minute steady warm up
  • Interval:
    • 20 seconds – INTENSE
    • 40 seconds – recovery (much slower)
    • Repeat this interval 10-12 times
  • 3 minute cool down

Because this type of training requires an individual to exert a great amount of energy, it isn’t the best training for everyone. Individuals with medical conditions, physical restrictions, etc., should consult a doctor prior to implementing HIIT training in their workout routine.

What’s your favorite HIIT routine? Let me know in the comments below!

Main Photo: Very Well

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