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3 Ways To boost Cardio Intensity!

If your cardio is easy, it needs to be kicked to the curb. Push your limits. discover what you're really made of!

3 Ways To Skyrocket Your Cardio Intensity!

Plenty of training modalities don't live up to the hype. High-intensity interval training definitely does. Aside from the known health benefits, it'll leave you on the ground begging for mercy. Here's how to get started.

When I walk into my gym, I often see familiar faces walking on the treadmills or methodically cranking away on the elliptical machines. When I finish my workout, these same people are still working the same equipment. And unfortunately, these people are usually still carrying the same body fat they had when I joined two years ago.

I can't help but shake my head. If you've been following the same program for months and you're not seeing any change. Why would you continue to follow the same exact program? You've no doubt heard Albert Einstein's quote about insanity, that it's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Watching the same bad television shows over and over again and expecting to wake up thin strikes me as equally cuckoo. I'm left wondering if "results" even factor into these individuals' mindsets anymore.

Personally, I can't think of anything more boring than endless low-intensity steady state cardio—especially inside a gym. I have the patience of a chipmunk, so if I had to spend an hour on one piece of cardio equipment, I'd probably tie a noose to the pull-up bar. Luckily, research has shown that steady-state cardio is not the best way to burn fat, and it may even eat away at your hard-earned muscle.

So what's the alternative? Don't drop the walking entirely. Instead, break it up with a few brief explosions of athleticism. It may not be fun at first, and your motivation will be tested to the limit. But ask yourself: Shouldn't training feel this way?

The Imperative for Greater Intensity

High-intensity interval training consists of short bursts of all-out effort alternated with short periods of low-effort "recovery" time. HIIT has been around for decades under different names and variations, but it raced to mainstream prominence in recent years thanks to a steady stream of research showcasing a host of benefits.

Interval training has been shown to burn fat while preserving muscle mass, increase circulating growth hormone in the body, greatly improve cardiovascular capacity, and increase the metabolic rate for hours or even days. But these don't even cover my favorite part about HIIT: that it can take less than 20 minutes.

cardio is important, but, if you are new to exercise, don't rush into it or your results may suffer.

It sounds like magic, and for this reason, all kinds of fit people have been recommending HIIT to all kinds of non-fit people. My message to novices: Don't jump in too quickly, because HIIT can be taxing on the central nervous system. Ease into it as you would if you returned to heavy lifting after an extended layoff. I also suggest no more than two HIIT sessions per week, especially if you're also hitting the weights hard.

Got that? Then let's fire the starting gun.

Option 1: Go On A Sprint-Walk

The simple acceleration from a walk to a sprint will do small wonders for your cardiovascular endurance.

Sprint-walks are the classic example of HIIT training that can be done just about anywhere. If you have access to a track, you could sprint the straightaways and walk the curves. If a track isn't your style, just sprint in any direction and then walk back to the same starting point. I do this in the parking lot at my gym after my resistance work.

Warm your body up by running at a slow-to-medium pace for about 5 minutes. The sprint portions should last between 10-20 seconds, and the walk portion could last between 20 seconds and 2 minutes, depending on your fitness level and the progression of your training session. The walk portions tend to increase as the session unfolds.

If that sounds like a lot of timing and measuring, use the infrastructure to your advantage by running along a road. My running route has telephone poles spaced every 100 feet. I use them as my markers.

Three phone poles is roughly equivalent to a 100-yard dash, which takes me about 15 seconds (OK, so I'm not Usain Bolt, but neither are you). After that, I'll walk for a series of phone poles until I feel I can sprint again.

It's just as simple as it sounds, but use caution if you're not accustomed to sprinting. Sprinting is a dynamic movement that's notorious for causing injuries such as ankle sprains and tears of the Achilles tendon, hip flexor, and hamstrings (how many baseball players have you seen pulling up lame after legging out a hit?). Most muscle tears are a result of your CNS triggering a muscle to contract at the wrong time in a dynamic movement, so it's crucial to give your nervous system time to gradually adapt.

Accelerate in a controlled manor and avoid jackrabbit starts, especially on your first training session. Otherwise, you'll find yourself limping home mumbling all kinds of nasty things about me and my bright ideas.

Option 2: Sprint Up, Walk Down

At first, that hill may seem insurmountable, but once you reach the top and see how far you came, the fear dies. After that, you'll just want to climb it faster.
Step 1

Find a steep hill. You probably have one within a half-mile or so of your house, even if you've never noticed it. It doesn't have to be much. Walter Payton did sprints in a landfill for crying out loud, so keep an open mind.

Step 2

Jog to the hill and then run up it as fast as you can. You'll be warmed up by the time you reach the top. You might feel like you're barely able to imagine running it again, because hill sprints generate a tremendous pump in the legs, very quickly.

Step 3

Walk back down the hill and repeat as many times as you can. The great thing about hill sprints is that they dictate the pace of your run. After four repetitions, my heart always feels like it's going to burst out of my chest. The light jog back to your house is your cool-down.

Option 3: Ride the Machines

You might think that I'm going to advocate sprint-walks on a treadmill here, but honestly, I find that it's a pain to have to press the buttons and change the speed. Instead, I think intervals work best on machines where you set the pace, such as bikes or elliptical machines.

For interval training, ellipticals and bikes work better than treadmills; it's just easier to switch speeds.

If I use a stationary bike, I choose "Quick Start" and set the resistance to the highest level so it's difficult to pedal. After a warm-up of 5 minutes or so, I'll start my sprint phase by standing up and pedaling as fast as I can for 30 seconds.

Then I'll sit down and pedal for 30 seconds at a slow pace for my "walk" phase. There are many different sprint-rest combinations you can try, but I find that after 20 minutes of 30/30, my legs will be so pumped I can barely walk.

On an elliptical, again use "Quick Start" and increase the resistance. However, I recommend not holding the moving handles, because they limit your sprinting speed.

You can hold the stationary handles but I prefer not to hold on to anything, because it increases core activation and will improve your balance.

Again, perform 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds at a slow pace. At the end of some of the "walk" phases, I'll come to a stop and reverse direction. You'll find that you can't sprint as fast in reverse, but it stresses your leg muscles in a much different manner.

Suffer and Love it

I've always been of the opinion that if you hate doing something, you won't do it for long, so you'd better find some way to do it that you don't hate quite so much. So yeah, HIIT has more benefits and it takes less time than traditional cardio, but if you're serious about it, prepare for a grueling workout.

At least you're in good company. Back in 1796 the French writer Madame de Stael was asked her opinion of steady-state cardio vs. HIIT, or something, and she simply stated "One must, in one's life, make a choice between boredom and suffering."


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About The Author

Jim Vaglica is a full-time police sergeant and on call 24/7 with a regional SWAT team.

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Kovenant

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Kovenant

Good Article. I got some up hills, I do in my Bike one have 18% elevation 1.2 km, other one have 19-21% 900 meters, and the other one have 10-17% 1.8 km that's uphill are the 3 way to comeback to my house when I fatigued from being biking 3-4 hours lol.

Sep 12, 2013 7:04pm | report
 
nfrench805

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nfrench805

I jog 5 mph for about a half mile, and then do intervals of 30 seconds at 11.3 mph, 60 seconds at 5.3 mph. I can manage 7 of those before I'm almost ready to pass out.

Sep 12, 2013 7:32pm | report
 
Simplymeinpa

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Simplymeinpa

I love doing HIIT, can't see how people can be on a machine for 45mins. Training for a marathon soon though so I'll have to start getting use to that slow and steady stuff,

Sep 12, 2013 7:41pm | report
 
Simplymeinpa

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Simplymeinpa

I love doing HIIT, can't see how people can be on a machine for 45mins. Training for a marathon soon though so I'll have to start getting use to that slow and steady stuff,

Sep 12, 2013 7:41pm | report
 
tycali17

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tycali17

great article, love the quote at the end.

Sep 12, 2013 9:12pm | report
 
crumpledoor

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crumpledoor

I loved cardio until I drop a lot of body fat and then it just became laborious and boring. Then I tried HIIT and although it was great in the sense it took a lot less time, I still found that I was hating it. Now I have started Jim Stoppins Shortcut to Shred which incorporates HIIT into my rest periods and I love it. Constantly burning fat, sweating bullets and after my workout I dont feel like I have been slugging away for 20 - 40 mins doing cardio, it is awesome!!

Sep 12, 2013 9:24pm | report
 
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'10"
  • wt: 181.88 lbs
  • bf: 11.8%
jenlp

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jenlp

I like to do intervals on the big stairclimber....that gets my heart jumping through my chest in no time!

Sep 12, 2013 10:14pm | report
 
BaBbu38

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BaBbu38

Great Article, Specialy i like Phone Polls System. I got Sucess With HIIT. And i am still doing HIIT while I am Doing my Weigh Training.

Sep 12, 2013 10:50pm | report
 
mrquincy

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mrquincy

I incorporate HIIT its awesome. This helps my heart rate stay up while I'm working out. People in the Gym Think I'm Crazy!

Sep 12, 2013 11:30pm | report
 
Djjcrick

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Djjcrick

awesome article thumbs up giong to start HIIT from today

Sep 13, 2013 12:15am | report
 
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'11"
  • wt: 178.57 lbs
  • bf: 12.0%
Cale1975

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Cale1975

I always tell people who want to lose some weight that they should do some HIIT training. But they are stuck in the old school ideas of jogging/biking for hours on end, and not seeing results, then moaning about it.

Sep 13, 2013 4:24am | report
 
TadN9ne

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TadN9ne

Werd like son!

Sep 13, 2013 4:01pm | report
mexicanalinda18

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mexicanalinda18

Anyone with results from HIIT? Want to try it.

Sep 13, 2013 8:43am | report
 
Mudvayne24

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Mudvayne24

I feel like I'm leaning out slightly and getting slightly stronger at the same time. I've only been on the cardio wagon for a couple of weeks though. I go to the closest highschool parking lot and push my car around. I stretch first then push as hard as I can for 25-30 seconds (closing in on failure) and then rest for 1.5-2 minutes while the car rolls back to where I started. After about 6 or so my heart is racing and I can feel my lungs expanding pretty rapidly. Great convenience to not have to do 45 minutes of boring running and get a nice pump in my legs and my cardio system.

Sep 14, 2013 2:16pm | report
TonyP40

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TonyP40

You could try fitnessblender.com. Its a great source for HIIT with different intensities to choose from, can be done in your house.
I use it 3-4 times a week as well as strength training 3-4 times a week.

Sep 15, 2013 6:18am | report
mrsJNO

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mrsJNO

I love a good heart pumping HIIT session. 20-30 minutes and I'm done! The thought of having to do an hour of cardio makes me want to scream!

Sep 13, 2013 8:44am | report
 
RelaxImJoking

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RelaxImJoking

I just lift weights faster.

Sep 13, 2013 10:01am | report
 
XxmetallicaxX

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XxmetallicaxX

from the looks of things you need more cardio or HIIT

Sep 13, 2013 4:14pm | report
RelaxImJoking

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RelaxImJoking

From the looks of things your not very positive towards your bb.com peers and not very well informed on their fitboard humor postings.

Sep 16, 2013 11:54am | report
HeftyMann

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HeftyMann

Great article. I always hear so many people saying how great HIIT is. I have been doing it for some time myself and it is so much better than the steady state cardio.

But with so many people talking of HIIT, why are there still people grueling away on the treadmill for hours?

Sep 13, 2013 10:29am | report
 
judge218

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judge218

I love that line by Madame. Also a great suggestion for those with treadmills at home or frequent user of it at the gym...just like Jim mentioned about always going to have to mess with the buttons when doing HIIT. So what has worked very well for my friends and I is to set your speed to your max...run for 10 secs....get feet off treadmill (placing feet at sides) for 10 secs ..then back on and running 10 secs...then feet off 10 secs....on..off..on...off..10 secs for just 10 mins. Can take short break and then do another round if you're still feeling it.

Sep 13, 2013 11:47am | report
 
TadN9ne

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TadN9ne

I just did sprints up and down this bridge close to home recently, felt pretty great.

Sep 13, 2013 4:00pm | report
 
alwayswinter303

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alwayswinter303

HIIT is where its at. I was able to keep a steady fat loss while maintaining muscle and only doing 2-3 20min sessions a week. Works perfect on a cut.

Sep 13, 2013 4:03pm | report
 
mrmagassi

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mrmagassi

high intensity cardio is the only way to go... !

Sep 13, 2013 4:08pm | report
 
Coco1993

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Coco1993

there's a lot of treadmills you can just select interval training on! I'll set my run speed and then set my jog speed and all you have to do is push one button to go between the two speeds

Sep 13, 2013 5:29pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 35 Comments

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