gone are the days of the never-ending cardio sesh – that is so yesterday. now, it’s all about HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. but this isn’t just hearsay. this research-backed approach to torching serious calories in a short amount of time is here to stay. whether your goal is to bulk up or lean out, intense intervals of cardio will do your bod some good. here are some sweet reasons to HIIT it:
recent research found that cyclers who did 20 min of sprints shed 3x as much fat as those who cycled for 40 min at moderate intensity! another study reported that just two weeks of interval training boosted the participants ability to burn fat during exercise by 36%. but what about the “fat-burning zone” which says to work out longer at a lower intensity? this often misunderstood theory isn’t a myth, but here’s where the confusion is: at a lower intensity you do burn about 50% calories from fat, whereas at higher intensities you may only burn 35% from fat. but (and here’s the catch): at higher intensities you burn more total calories, meaning overall you also burn more fat.
not only does interval burn more calories and fat than steady state cardio, but you actually keep burning calories long after your workout is over thanks to the “after-burn effect”. one study found that athletes who performed 20 weeks of endurance training burned 28,661 calories and an interval group trained for 15 weeks and burned only 13,614 calories; however, because of the after-burn effect, the interval-training group showed 450% greater fat loss than the endurance group.
looking to add some muscle? don’t skip cardio (ahem, guys!) in the name of preserving your muscle mass. yes, doing long, steady state cardio can actually start whittling away at your muscle mass, but short spurts of cardio won’t. research shows that the longer the cardio sesh, the greater the loss in muscle; however there are very little to no decrease in strength when cardio was kept to 20 minutes. short + sweet!
boost HGH, naturally
no, we’re not poppin’ HGH pills here, people. i’m talking about boosting your levels of human growth hormones with intense cardio. a recent british study found that HGH levels jumped up 530% in cyclists after quick 30 second bursts of sprinting on a stationary bike. this hormone helps your body build muscle, cut fat, and is vital in anti-aging as well. so skip the injections and up the intensity!
get fit efficiently
researchers compared two groups of cyclists, the first peddling for 20-30 minutes interspersed with short bursts of sprints, and the second cycling at a low intensity for 90-120 minutes. after two weeks, they found that the group was just as fit as the group who pedaled 3-4 times as long. why is this? well, it’s simply the difference between working your fast-twitch (intense intervals) vs. low-twitch (long, slow cardio) muscle fibers. by working more fast-twitch muscles, your body responds by upping your ability to use oxygen and burn fat. . now, i don’t know about you but it just seems silly to workout any longer than you have to if there’s no benefit. bonus: you’re more likely to stick to a workout that takes less time!
here are 2 interval workouts to get you started:
interval newbie: aim for 20 minute workouts with 2 min at a tough but manageable pace, and then go all out for 30 seconds pushing yourself as hard as possible, then recover back at your 2 min pace before you go all out again for 30s. repeat until you complete 20 min! take note of stairs climbed, miles pedaled, or distance ran – and each workout aim to beat that number in the same amount of time.
tabata treadmill torture: what is tabata exactly? it’s high-intensity training – and then some. it’s 4 total minutes of work alternating between 20 seconds of all-out intensity, followed immediately by 10 seconds of rest, repeated a total of 8 times. you can use any machine, but for sample purposes i’ll share a 12 minute treadmill workout that includes tabata. first, i warm-up at a speed of 4.0 at a 3% incline for 4 minutes. then double everything, so i go to 8.0 speed at 6% incline and then get ready for your tabata sesh. jump on the treadmill (be careful) and sprint all out for 20 seconds…hop off the side and recover for 10 seconds. get back on again and sprint for 20 seconds, jump off and rest for 10. do that 8 times through for a total of 4 minutes tabata. then go back to your warm-up speeds by going back to 4.0 at 3% incline and cool-down for 4 minutes. WARNING: not for beginners people and start out with easier speeds if you’re new to tabata. want a challenge? bump up the incline and/or the speed!
so if you’re like me, and have a mental struggle not logging 30-45 minutes cardio on top of a 45-minute weight session, join me in shifting your mindset. when it comes to gym time, it’s quality over quantity, intensity over time.
comment below with your fave form of cardio + how you mix it up between intervals and endurance training! already learn to demystify the nutrition label with trick #1 + get my 5 power-packed pumpkin recipes in trick #2? stay tuned tomorrow for trick #4 with tips on how to face the scary scale!
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