When it comes to cardio, let’s just lay it all out there. The majority of people do not enjoy mindlessly running, striding, stepping, or pedaling away at the gym. Jogging on a treadmill for 45-60 minutes is not particularly stimulating and reading a magazine on your stationary bike is definitely not a good use of your time at the gym. If you enjoy long, low-intensity cardio sessions, then good for you, but don’t spend too much time wondering why you’re not seeing the results you would like to see.
The cardio you should really be performing is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and in recent years especially, it has become a great fixture in the fitness industry. It’s great because cardio no longer has to be the whole of your workout routine. It only has to be a portion of it that should only be done effectively. When it comes to HIIT, it’s all about quality and not quantity.
So, how exactly does one perform HIIT? Well, it is essentially a workout that provides both periods of rest and periods of high intensity training. Think: Running at 9-10 mph for 30 seconds, followed by walking at 3-4 mph for 30 seconds. The treadmill luckily isn’t the only place where HIIT can be performed. Even body weight movements can be a part of a great cardio workout if performed correctly. A great training method that exemplifies this would be Tabata style training. However, with Tabata, you perform the movement for 20 seconds, follow it by 10 seconds of rest, and then continue on to the next movement.
Need to know some more pros of doing HIIT cardio?
1. The workouts are shorter: While a low-intensity, steady state cardio session may go as long as 1 hour, an HIIT session is typically between 20 – 30 minutes. You’ll be working harder in that amount of time than before, but you’ll be in and out of the gym in no-time so you can go ahead and live your life.
2. HIIT burns more fat: According to Obi Obadaike, the reason HIIT is so effective is that it produces excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC). What does this mean exactly? You won’t only be torching calories while you’re on the treadmill, but you are also speeding up your metabolism throughout the day and burning more calories even when you are at rest.
3. You will have a healthier heart: One 2006 study found that after 8 weeks of doing HIIT workout, people were able to bike twice as long as they could before the study. Impressive.
4. You will lose fat (specifically) not muscle: If you look at the body composition difference between a long distance runner or marathoner and a sprinter, you will notice that it’s truly astounding. Of course, each has the better body type suited for what they are trying to do, but if your goal is to look sculpted and chiseled, then HIIT is for you. Think of your strength training routine as molding the clay and high intensity interval training as the method in which you chisel away at stubborn fat. Hand in hand, you will be able to reveal a leaner and more toned you.
For more Sweat features, check out our articles here.