Updated: Jan 1, 2020
Skill Level: Intermediate, Advanced
Burning calories is not easy. It takes some people weeks, months, or even years to lose the amount of weight they desire. One of the biggest problems is the lack of time you have to work out (it’s also an excuse not to go to the gym, but sometimes it’s valid 😊).
Stop and Go…then Stop and Go Again
Luckily there is a routine that can get more work done in half the time. One of the best training methods I use for cardiovascular training is HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be used to get more work done without spending an hour on the treadmill. One of the biggest reasons why some people don’t do their cardio is because they find it boring. HIIT is good because it keeps your heart rate up which burns more calories.
How To Do It
The concept of HIIT training is to use intervals of intense training followed by a slower state. For example, you walk on a treadmill for two minutes at a medium exertion rate, then sprint for one minute. You repeat this method of intervals for however long you want your workout to last. Most people will do this for 20-30 minutes. You shouldn’t go more than 45 minutes otherwise you risk burning muscle as energy and wearing yourself out.
30 minutes is a good amount of time to build up your cardio system, burn calories, and still feel energized at the end of your session.
You can always adjust for your specific goals and needs, but this is the basic template of what HIIT entails.
My Routine For Fat Loss
One of my favorite HIIT routines is 2 on 1 off treadmill sprints for 20-30 minutes. I usually start by warming up for 5 minutes, then sprint for 2 minutes then walk for 1. I do these two or three times a week depending on my goals. This is a routine I found that works for me to keep the fat off, and is one of the methods I used to shred 20 pounds in about two months.
Also, we have to see what is best for you and your goals. Steady state cardio is good is you want to build up your endurance for long walks or runs. However, steady state will burn more muscle since longer cardio routines use up more energy (calories) if they last for an extended time. If you want to keep your muscles full or have them grow, steady state is not the best option. You can burn more calories with HIIT in half the time, and since we’ll be doing quick bursts, it doesn’t require as much energy consumption.
HIIT vs Steady State
There is often debate on what is better for fat loss, steady state or HIIT. Some say steady is good because time is the factor that contributes to fat loss. Others say HIIT is better because your total cardio output will be higher. If you I do both will I achieve the same results? Does it matter?
We will go in-depth in another post, but the simple truth is…it depends. I hate that answer too, but there are factors to consider including age, health history, activity level, and general interest (just to name a few). Someone who has a history of knee problems may find that the elliptical for 50 minutes is better for them than 20 minutes of sprints. A sprinter may find that mountain climbers burn more calories and keeps them more engaged than an hour on the Stairmaster. The best choice is whatever is best for you and whichever one you can sustain during a workout.
However, I do recommend trying HIIT only for 4 weeks to see if there is a difference in your physiological quality. HIIT can burn more calories (if that is your goal) in a shorter amount of time, which frees you up to live life outside the gym
There are dozens of different HIIT exercises you can do to get into your “zone.” Some require equipment some don’t.
Always remember to warm up before exercising to avoid injury.
1. Burpees (Gym, Home)
A lot of people love doing burpees, which is a great calorie burner. For your intervals, jog in place for one minute, then do a round of burpees and repeat. Depending on your fit level, try and get 15 minutes in.
2. Treadmill Sprints (Gym)
My fav. Start with 2 minutes of walking, increase speed a few mph so your heart rate increases, get to the point when you are speed walking, then sprint for 30 seconds to 1 minute, return to speed walking and repeat.
3. Ab HIIT (Home)
This one is more for your core and abdominal muscles. Start by putting your hands behind your back, grab one of your wrists with the other hand and the hand you’re grabbing stick it out like you’re giving a high five, then perform butterfly kicks so your heel touches the palm of your hand, do this for 30 seconds, drop down for a plank for 30 seconds, flip over and perform as many crunches as you can in 15 seconds, repeat.
4. Leg Builder (Home, Gym)
This will be a lower body workout focusing mostly on the quads and calves. For adding resistance, add light dumbbells. Start in a squat position and hold, air squat as many times as you can for 10 seconds, then side lunge and make sure your feet are shoulder width apart for 5 steps, air squat for 5 seconds, then standing calf raise for 10 seconds, repeat.
5. The Crusher (Home)
This will work your core and upper body. Start by running in place for 10 seconds, drop down into a push-up form and complete 5 reps, leverage on one arm and turn your hips and lift your hand to the ceiling, switch arms and repeat 5 times, go into push-up form and do mountain climbers for 10 seconds, 5 more push-ups, repeat.