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Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, it’s safe to say you might have had some candy. At first, it was only one or two pieces, but how quickly it turned into the entire box. Don’t fret. We all have our moments of weakness. Instead of stressing out about all those extra calories, just vow to burn them all away! The next time you’re in the gym, forget about doing hours of boring, slow-paced cardio. Take things up a notch and multiply the fat-burning power of your workout by integrating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into your cardio routine. Not only will it make your workout shorter and more effective, you can implement HIIT into any type of cardio exercise you like! Here’s how to do it:
What is HIIT?
HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is a newly developed method of exercise that has been proven to have explosive effects on calorie burning and fat loss. Originally made famous by at-home workouts such as P90X and Insanity, HIIT has now branched out to gyms and fitness studios across the country. The concept behind HIIT is simple, instead of keeping a constant/slow pace during exercise, balancing periods of moderate and maximal exertion will cause the body to respond more rapidly. These new HIIT workouts are shorter, harder, and incredibly effective.
Starting with HIIT
Starting off with HIIT is the hardest part; it will be very physically demanding for your first few workouts. The best way to get started is fairly straightforward. The next time you’re getting ready for a cardio workout, make sure you have a good warm up. Then, on the machine (or track/trail/pool) of your choosing, get started exercising. Begin with 30 seconds of moderate exertion (around 50% of your top speed), and then do 30 seconds of maximal effort, giving it everything you’ve got. That one-minute circuit is referred to as an interval. Follow the same pattern for the rest of your workout; shoot for 6-8 intervals per workout while you’re getting started.
After you’ve completed all your intervals, don’t forget to cool down (low intensity cardio) for a few minutes to let your body transition back into a resting state. These beginning HIIT workouts should only take around 15-20 minutes, start to finish.
Advanced HIIT Maneuvers
Once your body gets used to the beginning stages of interval training, you’ll be able to turn up the intensity on your next wave of workouts. If you’re happy sticking with strictly cardio-based intervals, try bumping up your maximal exertion periods while reducing your dependence on the minimal ones. For instance, your new and improved cardio interval could be 60-90 seconds of maximal exertion, followed by 30 seconds of reduced effort.
It’s going to be harder to maintain these more intense intervals, so try shooting a set of 5 full intervals, taking a few minutes to rest, then getting back at it with another set. Also, if you’re ready to bring weights into the equation, you can start doing intervals based around strength building exercises. Try doing heavy sets of exercises such as squats or overhead press, and then fill your rest time with easier moves like jumping jacks or running in place. It’s the same idea, just applied differently. Either one of these methods will help you push past the initial plateau you’ll see after your first few weeks of interval training and keep you moving towards the results you’re working for.
Now you know about the wonders of HIIT, so quit dilly-dallying! Go hit the gym and give it a try. It might just change your life. At the very least, you won’t have to worry about that Valentine’s Day candy anymore!
Jaime Walker is the CEO and founder SweatGuru, the online marketplace for fitness classes and experiences. She is also the founder of Fit Approach, a health and fitness community online. Jaime is also a yoga instructor and personal trainer.