When most people hear the word "cardio," including myself, they cringe with images in their head of tortuous long-distance running.
That’s because we’ve been told this rigorous activity is the king of burning calories, losing fat, and being healthy overall.
But what if I told you there’s a way for you to run less, but at the same time burn more fat, lose more weight and feel healthier than dragging yourself through long, boring cardio?
This isn’t a magic pill or the kind of latest-and-greatest fitness fad you see advertised on late-night TV.
This is something called high-intensity interval training or HIIT for short.
HIIT is a form of exercise in which you alternate between very intense anaerobic periods and slower recovery periods for a shorter, more-efficient workout.
"The high-intensity intervals should be performed at near-maximum effort and the recovery intervals should be done at about 50%," says personal trainer Daniel Lagimodiere.
Now, before you delve into how you can start losing weight more effectively, you need to understand how different types of cardio affect the body.
How HIIT Could Make You More Fit
We’ve already learned what HIIT stands for: high-intensity interval training. However, on the other side of the cardio spectrum is LISS or low-intensity steady-state cardio.
This kind of cardio consists of low-to-moderate intensity work. An example would be walking on the treadmill or taking a leisurely bike ride.
To test how effective cardio work is on performance, scientists focus on two tests: the lactate threshold (LT) and the anaerobic threshold (AT).
Without getting into too much of the science, when both these thresholds are broken, the body experiences greater metabolic changes.
Bottom line: High-intensity training breaks both the LT and the AT causing your body to experience metabolic changes. When you are doing LISS cardio, you are considered below the AT and LT, and do not experience this metabolic change.
Essentially, what this means is that when you are performing HIIT workouts, you’re improving your metabolism — which should result in greater fat loss overtime.
And when I say overtime, I not only mean greater fat loss durning a period of months or even years, but also in a 24-hour period.
How’s that for fast potential results?
The Hard Truth Behind Hard Cardio Workouts
When performing LISS, you’re only burning calories at that precise moment. There’s no 24-hour energy expenditure (boost in metabolism).
This in turn actually causes a negative effect on the body. That’s because it will adjust to this slower-paced cardio and in the long run require you to burn more energy for longer periods in order to lose fat.
Long, boring cardio affects the body quite similar to that of an addiction. Over time, the body simply copes, not experiencing the same effects it once had.
This results in the body needing longer periods of steady running to burn the same amount of calories you once did initially.
But with HIIT, receiving this boost in metabolism revs up your body to continue burning calories … even after you stop your workout.
A study at Colorado State University found that just 150 seconds of intense exercise can burn as many as 200 calories over the course of the next 24 hours, thanks to a boosted resting metabolic rate.
Plus, aside from just the performance benefits of HIIT on your body, there may also be general health benefits to performing HIIT instead of regular long-distance cardio.
Consider some of these negative effects of hard cardio …
Running long distances consistently overtime has shown to increase risks of heart disease, osteoarthritis, immune system weakness, njury, and increased overall inflammation in the body.
This doesn’t mean longer cardio doesn’t have place in a workout schedule or a healthy lifestyle, but overdoing it can be just as bad as not doing anything at all.
As the saying goes, "the dose makes the poison."
How to "HIIT" the Ground Running … Without Running!
So how do you start doing HIIT? It’s actually quite simple. But even though long-distance running isn’t involved, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t provide an intense workout.
After all, there’s a reason intensity is in the title.
If you want to do HIIT right and receive the metabolic benefits, then you need to work hard and give it 100%.
As I said, HIIT is simply a form of exercise in which you alternate between very intense anaerobic periods and slower recovery periods for a shorter time. This kind of workout can last anywhere from five to 20 minutes depending on your experience and endurance.
If you’d like to get started with a HIIT workout, here’s an easy and effective routine:
- Stretch and warm up your muscles for three minutes.
- Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should be gasping for breath and feel like you couldn’t possibly go on after that time. It is better to use lower resistance and higher repetitions of what you’re doing to increase your heart rate.
- Recover for 90 seconds, STILL MOVING, but at a slower pace and decreased resistance.
- Repeat this high-intensity exercise and recovery seven more times. (When first starting out, depending on your level of fitness, you may only be able to do two or three repetitions of the high-intensity intervals. As you get increasingly fit, just keep adding repetitions, until you’re doing eight reps during your 20-minute workout session.)
- Cool down for a few minutes afterward by cutting down your intensity by 50%-to-80%.
Workout suggestion source: Joseph Mercola, MD
HIIT routines can also be performed with sprints, on a bike or using weights. However, the most important thing is that you perform a period of high-intensity work followed by slow-paced recovery.
That’s all for today. With your physician’s knowledge and support, this is another healthy-routine idea you can incorporate this into your healthy lifestyle to build a better you.
Happy and Healthy Investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily