It’s a common theme today; people have more work on their plate with less time to hit the gym. We wish we could take a magic pill for weight loss but of course, there is no magic pill. However, HIIT training is one of the best cardio workouts for weight loss and you can do it in half the time you would normally spend in the gym.

Best cardio workout for weight loss – HIIT Cardio Training

You may have already heard of the popular cardio workout, called HIIT, or high intensity interval training. It simply means alternating intense exercise with periods of steady state recovery. In other words, go hard, and then go easy and repeat.

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How Does HIIT Blast Fat?

The reason why HIITT blasts fat so efficiently is because of the alternating cardio intensity. According to Kilpatrick, Ph.D., Jung, Ph.D., and Little, Ph.D. (2014), the exact mechanisms that make HIIT so effective are not yet fully known, but so far the research collected shows “…it may be related to the training time spent at or near VO2 max, a high degree of muscle fiber recruitment, and other related cardiovascular pathways”. (p.p 11).

Also the intensity of HIIT increases the amount of calories burned after exercise which is why it helps burn more fat and calories than steady-state workouts.

Ways to perform HIIT

The awesome thing about HIIT training is you can perform it with almost any exercise mode. Choose from cycling, running, swimming, walking, elliptical trainer, Stairmaster, plyometrics or group exercise classes.

Some group classes will incorporate stations with kettlebells, TRX ropes, medicine balls and other weight-bearing exercise modes. Pick your favorites, then mix it up and make it fun! Also, HIIT training can be modified to fit any fitness level and special conditions.

How intense should the intervals be?

A certified personal trainer can you help you determine this. Or, you can calculate your maximum heart rate. The easiest way is by taking 220 and subtracting your age. For example, if you are 43, your maximum heart rate would be calculated at 177. Your intensity should be 85% to 95% of 177.

This means your target heart rate for a HIIT interval would be around 150-168 bpm. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, just make sure you feel as though you are working “hard” to “very hard”.

One way to measure this is the talk test. You should have difficulty holding a conversation while in your HIIT zone. If you can speak easily, you’re not working hard enough.

The recovery interval should be at about 40 to 50% of your maximum heart rate. If we use the recent example, that would be about 70 to 88 bpm on the recovery phase.

best cardio workout for weight loss

How long should the intervals last?

This depends on each individual’s fitness level but many times a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio is used. An example would be 30 seconds of sprinting followed by a one minute recovery jog.

Sample Weight Loss Workouts

HIIT workouts provide endless possibilities of variation because you can use almost any form of exercise you desire. Here are a few examples to get you started. As always before any of these workouts, warm up for about 3 to 5 minutes with light jogging or jumping rope. Always be sure to cool down for 3 to 5 minutes post workout.

HIIT Running: For running, try a 30 second sprint followed by 1:30 of slower jogging repeating these intervals 15 times.

HIIT Cycling: This can be done on a spin bike or a road bike. If outdoors, make sure you’re not on hills—you don’t want to spend your recovery time mashing up a mountain. Try 45 seconds of very hard resistance followed by 1:15 easier spinning for recovery. Repeat 15 times. Because cycling is low impact, be sure you really hit your max on the hard interval. A heart rate monitor may be helpful.

HIIT Plyos:Set up 2 different plyo stations and repeat them 10 times each. Do the following:

1.- 30 seconds of Mountain Climbers/30 seconds of squat jumps/30 seconds of Leap Ups/30 seconds rest. Repeat 10 times.

2.- 30 seconds Turbo Lunges/30 seconds Burpees/30 seconds Speed Skaters/30 seconds rest. Repeat 10 times.

Incorporating HIIT workouts into your weekly routine will not only help you blast fat faster but also can keep your workouts fresh and fun because of the hundreds of variations you can use. Weight loss will likely happen faster in less time.

Because of the difficulty of HIIT workouts, be sure to stretch them out during the week and do steady state cardio in between your HIIT workout days for maximum benefits. Challenge yourself and go hard! Try incorporating one HIIT workout into your routine this week, then build from there.

References:

Kilpatrick, Ph.D, M. W., Jung, Ph.D.,, M. E., & Little, Ph.D., J. P. (2014, September/October). HIGH- INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING: A Review of Physiological and Psychological Responses. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 18(5), p 11-16.

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