If you’ve ever worked on getting fit, chances are you’ve done steady state cardio, i.e. around 60 minutes of constant cardio that kept your heart at an elevated rate. New studies show that high intensity interval training (HIIT) allows you to exercise at very high intensities for a much longer period of time than steady state, so you burn more fat. As an added bonus, there’s also an afterburn effect known as EPOC (excess-post exercise oxygen consumption). You increase your metabolism and burn more calories for up to 24 hours after interval training, whereas going for a jog burns almost NO calories after.
This is not to say that steady-state cardio has no place in fitness. I’m actually a big fan of it myself. I taught advanced step classes for 22 years and no other type of workout drenches me in sweat like that does. Benefits of steady-state cardio include 1) faster recovery between your HIIT and strength training sessions. 2) Steady-state cardio doesn’t take as large a toll on your body as a HIIT session, which can make dieting easier and increase your calorie burn without over-stressing your system. 3) You will burn calories. If you’re sedentary and start moving, you will see results but you won’t get the same post-workout calorie burn as you would a good interval sprint session. 4) It’s great for developing your aerobic fitness level and increasing your cardiovascular endurance. 5) If you find something you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it. If steady-state cardio is what you like best, go for it!
But, keep in mind, HIIT is superior for fat burning. Fast-paced bursts of all-out cardio punctuated by short rest intervals have been touted as key for fat loss, and for good reason. HIIT burns more calories than low-intensity cardio per session. It also places greater recovery demands on your body, which causes you to burn more calories after training than you would in a standard hour-long treadmill session.
So what are some great examples of HIIT training? Glad you asked!
The combinations are endless when it comes to HIIT workouts.
HIIT training for on the track:
- Sprint the straightaways and walk or jog the curves. Do this for 20 minutes.
- Sprint 200 meters (half way around the track) and walk/jog the other half. Do this for 20 minutes.
- Sprint 400 meters (1 lap) and then walk/jog the next lap. Do this for 20 minutes.
Off the track you will want to do similar intervals, but use time as a measurement instead of distance:
- Sprint for 15 seconds and walk/jog for 30 seconds. Do this for 20 minutes.
- Sprint for 30 seconds and walk/jog for 60 seconds. Do this for 20 minutes.
- Sprint for 60 seconds and walk/jog for 90-120 seconds. Do this for 20 minutes.
HIIT training in the gym:
- Squats for reps for 1 minute and then rest for one minute, then repeat for 20 minutes.
- Deadlifts for reps for 1 minute and then rest for one minute, then repeat for 20 minutes. Note: Make sure you are using the right form with these.
- Circuit training – mix up squats, bench press, deadlifts, and pullups, doing 1 minute of exercise for every 1 minute of rest. Repeat for 20 minutes.
- Bodyweight HIIT training – combine bodyweight squats, pushups, and pullups for 1 minute of exercise followed by 1 minute of rest. Repeat for 20 minutes.
- Box jumps – jump onto and off of a box as quickly as possible for 1 minute and then rest for 1 minute. Repeat for 20 minutes.
- Jump rope – jump rope for 1 minute of exercise followed by 1 minute of rest. Repeat for 20 minutes.