Posted on June 7, 2016 by Meghan Eggleston
Walk into any gym and you will find Cardio Queens (and Kings) logging in long, boring hours on treadmills and elliptical trainers in effort to burn calories. Is this you? Do your workouts consist of only steady-state training? You are really missing out! Interval training has been around for a while. But it has become very popular in recent years and its value is being recognized as it relates to weight loss and metabolic conditioning. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, has become a very popular buzzword in cardiovascular training.
What Exactly Is HIIT?
High-Intensity Interval Training is simply alternating periods of high-intensity work with periods of lower intensity-training or even rest. The method in which you use this varies.
Why You Should Be Interval Training
You Save Time
Why spend 45 minutes jogging when you can spend 25 minutes doing intervals? You are putting out more overall effort so you don’t have to go as long.
You Burn More Fat
I know, I know. Somebody told you you have to train in the “fat burning zone” which is pretty much low intensity. That is a big fat myth. Yes, the body burns a greater percentage of fat at lower intensities than at higher intensities. But at higher intensities you burn way more total calories—and more fat calories OVERALL—than you do at lower intensities. It’s a no-brainer. The bottom line for fat loss is burning more TOTAL calories.
Also, interval training helps you burn more fat when you aren’t exercising by keeping the metabolism fired up. Steady-state cardio just burns fat during the workout. So, basically I am telling you you can burn more fat while you are sleeping. Hmmm. Yeahhh. Check that box.
You Maintain Muscle Mass
With traditional cardiovascular training it’s really hard to maintain muscle mass. Sure, you may lose weight, but some of that weight is muscle too. Let’s keep the muscle and lose the fat! More muscle = higher metabolism = more fat burned at rest.
How Exactly Do I Use High-Intensity Interval Training in My Cardiovascular Training?
If you are a new to this type of training, I would say stick to a 15-20 minute HIIT to start. Using your cardio exercise of choice, start with a 3 minute warmup. Then increase your intensity to about as high as you can stand for 1 minute. It’s all about your perceived exertion. Not a specific speed/incline/resistance. Just go faster and/or harder. Then decrease to a low intensity for 2 minutes. Repeat 3-5 times and be sure to cool down. If you are already fairly trained, you can shorten your rest periods and increase the length and number of intervals. As you get fitter, you will adjust the ratio of high- to low-intensity bouts.
Your heart WILL get stronger faster and you WILL get fitter faster than traditional cardiovascular training. Who doesn’t want that?! Already pretty fit? Try Tabata training.
What is Tabata Training?
Tabata is a type of HIIT in which you perform an exercise at maximum effort/maximum reps for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds for a total of eight rounds. One Tabata takes 4 minutes to complete. You can design a Tabata from most anything. Need some ideas? Try these examples. You will need a timer. Tabata timers are available online and on smart phone apps. Awesome music is HIGHLY recommended. And ALWAYS warmup appropriately before any workout but especially before training at a high intensity.
Perform each exercise at maximum effort for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds.
- Pushups :20
- Rest :10
- High Knee Run in place :20
- Rest :10
- Burpees :20
- Rest :10
- Squat jumps :20
- Rest :10
- REPEAT 1x