While it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, the phrase “less is more” can actually be beneficial when it comes to your cardio routine. Usually, when people are doing cardio, they either do either high-intensity interval training or low-intensity steady state cardio.
As the name implies, High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT for short) involves giving maximum effort in short intervals, whereas Low-Intensity Steady State cardio (LISS for short) involves training at a lower intensity for a longer duration of time.
Both have certain health benefits, but if your goal is fat loss, HIIT may be the one for you.
Best Fat Burning Cardio
Numerous scientific studies have shown that there is a multitude of benefits to performing high-intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as increased metabolic rate, calorie-burn post-exercise, and increased muscle retention.
When you perform HIIT, your body is sent into an anaerobic state and it’s oxygen levels are tested. Because you’re constantly pushing against your oxygen threshold while exercising, your body enters an EPOC state afterwards, meaning excess post-exercise oxygen consumption occurs.
In this state, the body is temporarily increasing it’s oxygen intake to replenish the depleted levels of oxygen from exercise. What this means in basic terms is that you’re going to keep burning calories after you exercise, and this is what differentiates HIIT from LISS.
When you do LISS, the calories stop burning when you stop exercising; however, when you do HIIT, your body keeps burning extra calories for as much as 24-48 hours afterwards.
How Can I Start Reaping The Benefits of HIIT?
You may be wondering now, “How can I get started with high-intensity interval training?”
Like any cardio, the choice of exercise, itself, is not as important as making sure you enjoy the exercise. You can do anything from running up and down stairs to swinging battle ropes, but I recommend the stationary bike because it’s easy to adjust settings on a fly, but do what you enjoy, as long as you follow these key principles.
Key Principles to HIIT:
✓ Begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down
This prevents injury, as well as allowing your body to get ready before you dive into the intense exercise, which will make you perform better.
✓ The ratio of work:rest and increasing intensity is key
An example of this may be sprinting as hard as you can for a minute and then walking for another 1-2 minutes. For somebody more advanced, this ratio can be closer to 1:1, which would be 1 minute on, 1 minute off, and repeat. If you’re on a machine with intensity levels, you can also ramp up the intensity in certain intervals, rest and repeat.
For example, on the stationary bike, you can warm-up for 3 minutes on level 7 intensity, and then increase by 1 level of resistance every 30 seconds until failure, rest 1 minute, and repeat the whole process again.
✓ Workouts between 15-30 mins
You can do HIIT as often as you’d like, but it’s recommended to keep your workouts between 15-30 minutes to prevent injury, as they should be incredibly taxing on your body.
✓ Stay hydrated
When it comes to performing high-intensity exercise, hydration is especially important. Because your body is expending a lot of energy in such a short period of time, you will need the extra water to prevent injury, and keep your body going throughout the exercise.
If you do all of these things, you’ll be on your way to creating your own HIIT routines to help reach your fitness goals.
Message to Remember
Whether you’re swimming laps, running 400m sprints, or doing kettlebell swings (all of which are great, fun ideas for HIIT), switching over to high-intensity cardio can make a huge difference in your fat-loss journey.
If you think about it, HIIT is more like weightlifting in the sense that you use a lot of energy to push yourself in short intervals, and rest in between. By turning cardio from a long period of doing the same thing into a game that you play by challenging yourself to keep going and where you have to keep changing what you do, interval training is a great way to get some more cardio your routine.
High-intensity interval training is a great method of burning fat that anybody can use to maximize their efficiency in minimal time and see great results.