Dreading your next cardio session? Feel like you'd rather work on your taxes than grind it out again on the treadmill? Then ditch your traditional methods of cardio in favor of high-intensity interval training. If you aren't currently doing HIIT, you're missing out on several benefits:
- Fast paced? Check!
- Torches calories? Check!
- Fun to perform? Check!
- Effective? Check!
Research published in the Journal of Jahrom University of Medical Sciences showed that sedentary women on a six-week HIIT program experienced a decrease in body fat, BMI, and waist-to-hip ratio. They also noticed increases in adiponectin (a protein hormone involved in the breakdown of fatty acids) with increased exercise intensity. With HIIT, you not only burn calories quickly, but your metabolism also stays elevated for hours after the session, allowing you to burn fat for the remainder of the day and, sometimes, into the next day, as well.
Another study noted that when subjects performed HIIT, they improved not only their VO2 max, but also saw improvements in their O2 pulse (or oxygen uptake per heartbeat at rest), as well as a commonly used test of power output.
If you really want to enhance these workouts, take a quality pre-workout before you hit the gym, preferably one with L-citrulline, betaine, and beta-alanine. These ingredients will work in your favor to help improve oxygen delivery to the muscles, clear away lactic acid build-up, and help your body tolerate higher volumes of work.
With these three fun-and-fast HIIT routines, you can get in shape without even touching a single piece of cardio equipment. Instead, you'll be using a mix of bodyweight-based exercises along with lightweight dumbbell moves to get your heart rate up, get your muscles working hard, and get your body incinerating fat.
Workout 1: "Feel the Burn" Circuit
Chances are, when you hit the gym to train weights, you're typically working in a rep range of 8-12, depending on your goals. If strength is what you're after, you're pushing the bar for singles, doubles, and possibly up to 5 reps per set. But when was the last time you did a set of 30? Maybe never?
This workout is designed to raise your heart rate and boost your metabolism, so you torch calories faster and for hours to come. It's also going to train your muscles to keep working despite fatigue so that when you do perform those heavier sets, you'll know how to push through the rough reps and smash your PRs.
To make this workout harder, try to get more reps in for the allotted time period of each exercise. You ideally want to hit 15-20 reps, or higher as you progress, doing about 20-30 reps per minute. When you feel you can't do any more reps in that time, bump up the intervals from 60 to 90 seconds. There is always a way to advance this routine.
Workout 2: Core Annihilation
If you want a ripped midsection, this workout can help deliver it. You'll be making your way through a cardio move, a core exercise, and then a strength move that also works your core.
Fatigued, your abs will have no choice but to grow stronger. Warning: Never let your form slip during this challenge. If it does, pause and then rest for a few seconds before you carry on once again.
This entire workout should take you about 24 minutes. Add a quick warm-up and cool-down, and you'll be in and out of the gym in 30.
Workout 3: Burpee Challenge
This one is for those who like it intense. If you can't perform the above two workouts successfully, don't try this one just yet. You're going to alternate between burpees and other bodyweight exercises.
For this particular workout, rest as little as possible between each exercise as you move from one to the next. That said, you probably will need to rest at some point if you are going to maintain proper form. Take 20-30 seconds of downtime as needed and then keep going.
As you improve and become more efficient at this workout, try to reduce how much rest you're taking—this is the primary means of progression with this one. Once you can do that, know you've achieved HIIT greatness!
- Kordi, M., Choopani, S., Hemmatinafar, M., & Choopani, Z. (2013). The effects of six weeks high intensity interval training (HIIT) on resting plasma levels of adiponectin and fat loss in sedentary young women. Journal of Jahrom University of Medical Sciences, 11(1), 23-31.
- Astorino, T. A., Allen, R. P., Roberson, D. W., & Jurancich, M. (2012). Effect of high-intensity interval training on cardiovascular function, VO2max, and muscular force. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(1), 138-145.