When people think of cardiovascular exercise, they think of long boring jogs or spending an hour on an elliptical machine. Other people avoid doing cardio as they don’t want to ‘lose muscle’ and end up with a skinny or smaller physique, and feel they would be better off doing a weight lifting session instead. This is all perfectly fine, there are ways around doing cardio, but the most efficient and effective way to keep healthy, fit and to help burn off any excess or unwanted fat is by doing some form of cardio along with weight sessions.
Let me tell you about a cardio approach that will allow you to keep your muscle, lose fat and get fitter in a short amount of time. HIIT training, also known as High Intensity Interval Training is an interval training method that involves short and intense anaerobic bursts of exercise with low intensity recovery periods. It requires you to give your max effort (80 -100%) during working sets, getting your heart rate level as high as possible. This form of training requires you to be strong mentally and physically - if you don’t know your limits, this will certainly show you them!
This method of training is far more effective than any steady state cardio for burning fat and getting fitter while minimizing muscle loss. It can also be done in a very short amount of time, due to the intensity and energy exertion during workout sets, you are working much harder than you would doing steady state cardio. So, for anyone looking to get their cardio training done fast and efficiently and to keep their muscle while burning fat, adopting this training method could benefit your body and performance.
Why does HIIT training work?
The whole concept of HIIT training is a relatively new training approach, but since its recent introduction studies and research have shown that people have increased their anaerobic fitness by up to 10 times more with this approach over steady state exercise approach. The theory of the HIIT training method is that a heart rate beating at its highest level (VO2 max*) for a longer period during these intervals will increase the anaerobic capacity of an individual as the heart will not have enough rest time to get back to a normal beat during rest periods – it is constantly working. This form of training doesn’t allow your body to adjust or get used to one specific intensity, whether it’s high during intense intervals or low during your rest periods. As HIIT training increases the bodies resting metabolic rate it means you burn more calories throughout your workout and then through the rest of the day, even up to 24 hours after your workout.
*VO2 max is the maximum rate at which a person’s heart and lungs can effectively transport oxygen to their muscles during intense exercise.
How to do HIIT training
When doing any form of HIIT exercise it is important to do a warm up and stretch before, you can do this with a five-minute active warm up to get the blood flowing to your muscles before you start.
One way of performing HIIT training is on a Spinning/Exercise Bike - This method of low impact HIIT training can be done conveniently indoors, whether it be at your local gym or training facility, or even from the comfort of your own home. It is suitable for fitness enthusiasts of all levels whether you are a beginner or an expert. This form of HIIT exercise is great as it limits the impact on your legs and back, and is often adopted by someone who has had any injuries or can no longer do intense running sessions. It involves short sprints on the bike at a high resistance during working sets, and low resistance during resting periods.
Or maybe Running HIIT training would suit you better – Doing HIIT training through the form of running is a great way to increase endurance, fitness and speed, along with all the other benefits such as burning fat. It can be done by anyone, whether you’re a beginner or an elite athlete, and can take place almost anywhere if you have a bit of running space. It involves sprinting your fastest over a time fixed distance during working sets, and then resting or walking for a fixed amount of time during rest periods.
Another way of training is Tabata HIIT training – it is regarded as one of the most effective forms of HIIT training for building lean muscle mass and improving aerobic and anaerobic capacity. This type of training involves numerous exercises including weight lifting, bodyweight exercises and short bursts of cardiovascular endurance exercises. One round of Tabata HIIT training typically lasts 4 minutes and has 7 – 10 exercises. You work on an exercise for a fixed amount of time, and then have a rest period for the same amount of time before you move on to your next exercise. You can repeat the sets up to 6 – 8 times.
Benefits of HIIT
You feel good and look better!!
There are lots of ways to do HIIT training, but it is a good idea to work with an expert who can help design the best HIIT programme for you. It is also great to do HIIT training in groups, because then you can share the ambition, the highs and lows and there’s always someone who motivates you to work harder and push to your limits.
Where can I try out HIIT training?
We love Hiit here at Swift. We include it in most boot camp sessions and even designed an entire 10 part video series all about it.
Check out our youtube below and start your 10 minute fitness Journey.
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