8 min read

Are you getting the most out of your workouts, or simply "punching the clock" when you show up at the gym? It's true that any movement is better than no movement, but why not minimize your time investment while maximizing the results that can be achieved?

If you are tired of grinding out hours of cardio with subpar results from your workouts, then it might be time to change things up.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Cardio is a great solution to consider if you don't want to spend hours in the gym each day.

What is HIIT Cardio?

The defining point of HIIT Cardio is the combination of maximum-effort movements mixed with short rest periods – all while keeping your heart rate at cardio levels. The name says it all:

High Intensity

The goal... better yet, not a goal, it has to be there is to hit a very high intensity! Think of this as a max effort. 

These short bursts can help preserve more muscle tissue or even build muscle and burn a lot of calories, in comparison to long-duration low-intensity cardio. 

Interval Training

No need to pound out an hour on the treadmill.

Interval training is a powerful way to boost your metabolism and optimize overall performance. Training sessions are designed with intense, short bursts of movement, followed by rest time so you can recover before moving into the next exercise.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between HIIT and HIIT Cardio. Typically, HIIT is associated with bodyweight exercises such as burpees, tuck jumps, and jumping lunges.

On the other hand, HIIT Cardio will have intervals based around cardio such as sprints, rowing, assault bike, etc.

Most cardio routines are built on rhythmic, steady exercise with the goal of keeping your heart rate up. For example, if you go for a run or spend time cycling, then the speed and movement are often consistent from start to finish.

HIIT Cardio involves intense exercises with maximum effort, with built-in breaks with low effort. This pattern brings up the heart rate quickly, and the continuous movement prevents the heart rate from going too low before the next interval starts.

What are "Typical" HIIT Routines

The design of your HIIT routine varies depending on your endurance and fitness level.

Let's use running for example ... If you are just getting started, then you might need to completely rest or slowly walk during the rest periods, so you have enough energy to put into the next interval. As your fitness level and endurance improves you might be able to maintain a light job during your "rest" period. 

A good ratio for beginners is to aim for 1-part work to 2-parts rest, then adjust that ratio over time. For example, push through a high-intensity interval for 10 seconds, then give yourself 20 seconds to rest... or 20 seconds high intensity ... and 40 seconds low intensity.

As your endurance increases, then you might transition to doing a combination of bodyweight exercises and cardio exercises. 

7 Strategies To Increase Consistency

A solid HIIT Cardio sessions last between 4 to 8 rounds... If you're doing it right, you should be pretty smoked by the end of it.

A solid HIIT workout could last between 10 and 30 minutes depending on your rest intervals.

This workout time is shorter compared to other forms of exercise... but remember, you have to make sure your intensity is high! 

Intensity is key, which means that you need to be ready to give it your all in short bursts. The goal should be to push yourself to the max in every interval.

The intervals can range but the goal is to work as hard as you can throughout the entire interval... then rest... then jump back in to give it your all again.

Measuring Your Levels of Intensity

The real benefits of HIIT come when you reach an optimal level of intensity. The truth is that it takes time to build strength and endurance. Make sure you are proactive about gauging your effort based on your personal capabilities.

Don't worry about how hard someone to your left or right is going ... this is about you pushing YOUR limits. 

So give it your all, then notch it up and see if you can add in any more effort in the interval. Each interval during your HIIT training should be as close to maximum as possible.

Advantages: Why HIIT is a Preferred Type of Exercise

As you learn about the benefits of HIIT, it's easy to see why many people choose interval training as their preferred workout program. Here are a few of the advantages you can expect from HIIT cardio:

Burn More Calories

 H.I.I.T. can boost fat and calorie burning over the course of a day, or even multiple days if it’s hard enough.

This happens because of E.P.O.C. (excess post oxygen consumption) and revolves around the body working to get itself back to a resting state after exercise by repairing muscle tissue, breaking down lactic acid, and restoration of hormones.

These processes can take hours and require fuel to be carried out! Meaning you can continue to burn calories and fat hours after the interval training, even if you are just sitting around.

Higher Metabolic Rate

Not only do you enjoy these calorie-burning benefits during your workout, but your body will continue burning more calories throughout the day.

Even when you are finished with your workout, your metabolism will keep burning at a higher rate for hours after your exercise session.

Change Body Composition

Not only does HIIT cardio help with fat loss, but bodyweight exercises are also helpful for building and preserving muscle. If you want to see a change in your overall physique, doing a combination of both calorie burning and muscle building/preserving is key.

HIIT is a great way to go about it!

Post-Workout Stack

Less Time

Why spend hours at the gym when you can fit in a quick workout and then spend the rest of the time with your friends and family?

One of the biggest advantages of HIIT is that this exercise routine can produce great results in a short amount of time.

It's time to kick your excuses to the curb: even the busiest person can squeeze in a solid HIIT session!

Exercise Anywhere

Whether you are traveling or you don't want to pay for a gym membership, it's easy to maintain your fitness with HIIT workouts that can be done from any location.

Bodyweight exercises and cardio don't require fancy equipment or a personal trainer. You can write down your personal HIIT routines to follow, or download the My TransPHORMation App on your phone with structured HIIT sessions you can take anywhere you go.

Enjoy Your Exercise

It's no surprise that people have a hard time maintaining consistency with an exercise routine when they are pounding the hours away on a cardio machine.

If you are bored while working out, then it decreases the likelihood that you will stick with the activity for any length of time.

On the other hand, many people find that HIIT is more enjoyable than traditional cardio because of the variety of activities. You can be flexible with different HIIT routines each day so you don't tire of the same old routine day after day.

How HIIT Fat Loss Compares to Steady State Cardio

HIIT can be an effective way to spend your workout time. Some experts have suggested that 30 minutes of HIIT is equivalent to two and a half hours of traditional cardio exercise.

When you spend time in repetitive exercises (such as walking or jogging), then your body acclimates to the motion and you will plateau. In comparison, switching things up with different interval exercises in HIIT cardio means that you are pushing your body and can improve your endurance.

Post-Workout Shakes & Better Fat Loss Results

If you want to lose fat, then it is essential that you are burning more calories than what you are consuming.

HIIT is an effective way to burn calories in a shorter amount of time, which can mean excellent fat-loss results.

But don't forget, you can't outwork a bad diet. The key is to pair your exercise routine with a healthy eating plan.

Should You Do HIIT If You Want to Build Muscle?

HIIT is a great option if your goal is to build muscle. Many HIIT routines use both bodyweight exercise and added weights. If you want to tone and build muscle, then make sure your routine includes the use of medicine balls, kettlebells, free weights, and/or dumbbells.

As you work your muscles, you also have the benefit of spiking your heart rate – which helps with endurance. At the same time, metabolic stress is placed on the muscle tissue.

The body responds with a repair function that includes testosterone, human growth hormone, and other growth factors. When the damaged muscles are repaired, it leads to an increase in muscle definition and volume.

As with other muscle-building exercises, the gain in muscle is mostly experienced in the muscles that are used the most. For example, you are using your legs and core the most during the intervals, then you might want to supplement with arm strength training as well for balanced muscle gain.

Overall, weight training is one of the most effective methods if your goal is to increase muscle mass. But HIIT training can be a great complementary exercise to your weight room sessions, helping to strengthen the heart and improve overall fitness and endurance.

How HIIT Affects Overall Health and Wellness

Yes, all exercise can help with weight loss: burning calories can reduce excess fat on the body. But more intense exercise offers a variety of other health benefits. If you don't give it your all, then you are leaving benefits on the table.

Medical experts have found that working your hardest can improve your overall health in several ways:

• Regulate insulin levels

• Boost metabolism (during the workout and throughout the day)

• Increase endurance

• Drop extra body fat

• Decrease high blood pressure

Getting Started with HIIT

Always make sure to warm up with gentle exercise for at least 2 minutes before starting into your interval training. Here are a few simple HIIT routines to help you get started:

Treadmill Running

If you want to transform your jogging routine to focus on HIIT cardio instead, you can use short bursts of running at full speed (or high incline) to pump up the heart rate fast.

After running at a high intensity for 30 seconds, slow down to a recovery speed for a minute, then add in a minute of walking if needed before moving back to high-intensity speed again.

6 Habits That Will Improve Your Workout

Interval Sprinting

On a track, sprint as fast as you can for 10 yards. Turn around and walk back to give yourself a rest. Next, sprint 20 yards, and walk back to the starting line again.

On each interval, increase the sprint by an additional 10 yards until you reach a sprint of 50 yards of sprinting in one interval. Build up your endurance to complete five rounds.

Bodyweight Reps

Each of these bodyweight exercises should include 10 – 15 reps. At the start of each minute, perform the movemet for 10-15 reps, then rest the remainder of the minutes.

Then at the start of the next minute, do the next movement on the list in the same fashion... then the next movement the minute after.

Work through the complete list 3-5 times!

squat jumps, burpees, mountain climbers, floor crunches, push-ups, and walking lunges.

Is HIIT Right for You?

As with any new exercise routine, it's smart to talk to your healthcare provider if you have any medical concerns that could be affected by exercise.

The benefit of HIIT is that you adjust the intensity and repetition based on your current fitness. You can start slow, then build intensity over time. Or, if you are already actively engaged in a strong workout routine, then HIIT can be a great solution to take your results to the next level.

If you need support with your new exercise routine, then don't underestimate the benefit of tapping into a community of like-minded fitness experts and/or downloading the My TransPHORMation App!

At 1st Phorm, we are focused on providing the resources you need to reach your fitness goals, including a strong social media community and easy-to-follow systems on the My Transphormation App.

1st Phorm Customer Service

Will Grumke
Will Grumke

Will Grumke is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.

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