Cardio is right up there with taking the kids to school or filing your tax return, obviously there are ways you would rather spend your time, of course we all want to be fit and lean so we do it as a lesser evil kind of thing.
But why not consider doing a form of cardio that delivers twice the results? I’m talking about High-Intensity Interval Training (Or HiiT) which will get you leaner and fitter faster than you ever thought possible.
HiiT is more about how you do the cardio, rather than a constant steady pace for 30 minutes, you alternate periods of high intensity where you go all out and then have a longer rest period at a slower pace. This way of exercising burns up way more calories than just normal exercise whilst working out and for upto 24 hours afterwards.
The effect is called the afterburn, also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC, this is as valueable in the weight loss equation as the amount of calories burned, research also shows this type of working out easily beats the traditional steady way of cardio.
It is not advisable to just jump straight into this type of training due to the intensity as it can cause injury from overtraining or burnout.
To maximise your results without the risk of injury just bear in mind these five points:
1) Ease In Gradually
You should have a baseline of basic cardio fitness before introducing intervals, if you have done a month of basic cardio for 20 minutes 3 times a week then you will be fit enough. At this point you can bring in a few intervals of HiiT cardio and gradually increase it over time.
At the beginning you probably won’t be able to do a full HiiT session so just do your regular steady state cardio and simply add 2-3 intervals of 30 second HiiT intervals.
As your fitness improves and you are more comfortable with the workout add more intervals until your session has intervals from beginning just after warm up until the end.
You can also do intervals over the entire course of your workout but for a shorter time or lower intensity level. If you spread out the intervals this just not translate into a full HiiT workout, this is a great way to build up your stamina, allow your body to adapt to this workout type.
As your conditioning improves you will be able to up the intensity and length of the workout.
2) Choose An Exercise Mode You Enjoy
If you are not a fan of running then intervals may not be your best choice, something you don’t like is something you will not stick with for very long, choose a HiiT mode you enjoy and one that fits the training protocol:
Choose a HiiT exercise that:
- The larger muscle groups are adopted such as the legs to knock up heart rate considerably.
- Something you can accelerate up to top speed quickly in and decelerate just as fast.
Non-traditional exercise modes can be used such as 30-60 seconds of burpees followed by 60 seconds of walking and going again. As long as the workouts are hard and fast you can mix up all sorts of interval training, see what you can come up with.
3) Mindful Of Leg Workouts
Structrure HiiT workouts so that they do not interfere with leg workouts at the gym. If you are to perform a heavy leg workout at the gym then don’t expect to be doing HiiT the next day, at least not to your full potential.
Overtraining will only hinder progress and hamper recovery times.
Depending how sore leg workout days make you, you may want to separate leg days from HiiT training by at least 24 hours. HiiT can decrease muscle glycogen, a stored form of carbs in your muscles which powers them through workouts. You shouldn’t do HiiT the day before legs day, steady state cardio might still be ok either side of leg day though.
4) Fuel Up Properly
When you are trying to burn bodyfat it is all too easy to neglect proper nutrition before a HiiT workout, don’t make this mistake!.
You need to treat your HiiT workout the same way in which you would do a weight lifting workout, pre-workout nutrition is key to the best performance.
The closer you are to training time the faster working carbs and protein you want, this will help fuel your muscles with amino acids to help repair and rebuild. You won’t need as many carbs as you do for weight lifting, 10-20g of carbs can help get you through this workout.
Keep fats low as these slow digestion and also pre-workout supplements like BCAA’s, beta-alanine and caffeine for the best workout.
5) Listen To Your Body
Don’t overdo it even on a HiiT training day, if you are feeling fatigued you probably need a good rest day. Maybe use a more steady cardio for the tired days? just so you bounce back stronger the next time, beginners should consider one HiiT session per week.
As with any training your body will adapt to it and gradually get stronger and more efficient, be mindful if doing weight training also so as not to overtrain.
HiiT is a challenging method of cardio but you will get much better results in the form of a leaner physique and greater fitness than you would with just normal cardio, follow the above and you will do just fine.