We’ve all seen it before: people at the gym sweating up a storm, logging endless miles of long, boring cardio routines and not losing any weight.
The thing is, when performing a traditional “steady state” (moderate and sustained) cardio routine, your body will quickly become accustomed to it and any benefits that your body may have experienced when first performing these dull routines will soon diminish as your body adapts to it.
If you really want to take your fitness and fat loss to the next level, try high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT involves short bursts of all-out effort combined with an active recovery period. And, just 20 minutes of HIIT can blast more fat off your body than an hour of “steady state” cardio.
Traditional Cardio vs. HIIT
Traditional, “steady state” cardio will only burn calories during the workout. HIIT builds dense muscle which increases your fat burning potential throughout the whole day. In other words, HIIT burns calories during the workout routine and for many hours afterwards. Even better, you can combine HIIT with the same cardio exercises that you are already used to.
The best example of HIIT versus traditional cardio is seen when comparing marathon runners to sprinters.
Marathoners run for hours at a time, logging miles upon miles, week in and week out. You would think they would be ripped, with very low percentage of body fat, but this is often not the case. Yes, marathon runners may be thin, but they lack the sleek lines that most of us are striving for.
On the other hand, sprinters run with an all out effort for short bursts followed by an active recovery period, and these athletes are the healthiest-looking on the field. They work harder, but for much shorter intervals. Which would you rather do?
- Warm-up for 5 minutes, train, then cool down for five minutes.
- Intervals should be performed at an 8-10 intensity level (on a scale of 1-10).
- Intervals should last between 30-60 seconds on indoor machines (treadmill, bike, etc.) and 10-30 seconds when sprinting on a track or field.
Sprinting on a track or field
Warm-up: Perform a light jog, or a couple of high knee sprints and some “butt kicker” sprints. These should be done at 50% intensity level.
Sprints: Run as fast as you can for 30 to 100 yards, then walk back to your original starting point and repeat. The first 2 sprints should be done at about 80% intensity and the rest should be done as fast as you can. Perform 5 to 10 sprints, then do a light cool down.
Warm-up: Perform a brisk paced walk or light jog for a quarter mile.
Intervals: Run as fast as you can for 30 to 60 seconds, followed by an active rest of 30 to 60 seconds. Be sure to start out on the low end and work your way up. For example, you might run at 8 mph for 40 seconds and walk briskly at 3.7 mph for 40 seconds. Repeat this interval up to 10 times.
The same principle can be applied to using an indoor bike, rowing machine, or elliptical machine.
How to Get the Most Out of HIIT
In order for you to get the most out of high intensity interval training you must “give it all you’ve got.” This is where the “high intensity” part comes in – these workouts need to be short and intense. If you treat them right, they will treat you right. You’ll be blasting fat off of your body in no time!