When people hear the word “cardio,” the first things that come to mind are long jogs or endless hours on the elliptical. Those type of exercises are what we call “steady state cardio,” meaning that the exercise is a steady, continuous movement. If you’re anything like me, you find that type of cardio lame, boring and uninspiring. What most people don’t know is that, it doesn’t have to be that way – hallelujah! HITT cardio is a great alternative way to burn fat and increase your overall aerobic capacity.
What is HIIT cardio
HIIT is an acronym for high intensity interval training. How does HIIT work? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Short bursts of intense exercise followed by a short periods of low intensity recovery. If I hop on the treadmill and do a circuit where I walk for 30 seconds then sprint for 30 seconds for a total of 15 minutes, I am doing HITT cardio!
The Benefits of HIIT cardio
- Its quick: Since high intensity interval training is, for a lack of a better term, intense, you don’t need to spend that much time doing it. You get to trade off time for intensity and can therefore, get a great workout in anywhere between 5 and 25 minutes. HIIT is a great way to avoid those long boring hours on cardio machines…ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Fat burn: Exercise Physiologists used to believe that steady state cardio was the most effective method for burning fat, but this is not the case! Recent studies show that HITT cardio allows us to burn more total fat than steady state cardio.
- The after burn: A study conducted by Tennessee State University concluded that after a HIIT session, resting metabolic rate was heightened for the following 24 hours. So basically what this means is that if I do a 20 HIIT circuit on the treadmill, my body will continue to burn fat up to 24 hours after completion.
- Increase in VO2 Max: In a study completed by Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, “HIIT resulted in significantly increased VO2 max compared with long slow distance and lactate-threshold training intensities.” VO2 max (AKA aerobic capacity) is the maximum level of the body’s ability to effectively take up oxygen, transport it, and use it for sustained exercise energy. So what does this mean? In a nutshell, HIIT will increase your ability to do aerobic activities like running, swimming, dancing… anything that gets your heart rate up.
- Muscle building: HIIT cardio has, what we like to call, an “Anabolic Effect” which allows us to build muscle. HITT in combination with a slightly increase in caloric increase is a great way to build lean muscle and make some GAINZ!
- Keeps cardio interesting: Constantly changing speeds and incorporating new types of HIIT into your workout regimen really keeps you on your toes and out of boredom.
Here are some of my favorite HIIT circuits:
HIIT Cardio Circuits
- Elliptical: 1 minute slow speed, 1-minute medium speed, 1-minute sprint! Repeat 8 times for a 24-minute circuit!
- Elliptical: 1-minute easy 45 second sprint! Repeat for 20 minutes.
- Treadmill: 1.5 minute easy run (speed 5-6) 30 second sprint (Speed 7-9) repeat for a duration of your choice
- Treadmill: 3 Minute fast walk (Speed 3.5-4) on incline at 10, 1 minute spring speed (7-9) for a duration of your choosing.
- Stationary Bike: 30 seconds easy at medium resistance 30 second sprint at medium resistance.
Outdoor HITT Cardio circuits
- Jump rope/ Sprint: 1-minute jump rope right into a 100-meter sprint! Walk or job back then repeat! This one is fun to do with a partner!
- In and Outs: This is easiest on a track! Walk the strait always (100 meters) and sprint the curves (100 meters)! Do this for 1-2 miles.
- Swimming: 25 yards (1 lap) easy, 5 seconds rest and then right into 25 yards (1 lap) fast. Do this 8-16 times!