We’ve all been told that cardio is the BEST exercise. In the 80s it was the stair master, in the 90s it was step class, then came running races and so much more.
But recently, HIIT has been a hot topic. So what exactly is HIIT?
HIIT or High-intensity interval training is characterized by bouts of high and low intensity in various ratios. Picking up your speed/intensity for a set time, then recovering and repeating is the essence of a HIIT workout. Instead of the steady state cardio most do, it’s a way to mix things up, increase your metabolism and get the most bang for your buck.
Numerous studies have shown HIIT to be superior to steady state cardio for maximizing lean mass and fat loss while being comparable to OR better than steady state cardio for cardiovascular health.
Many are afraid to try it thinking it’s going to be painful(to the muscles). An easy way to start would be a 15-second on/30-second rest on any piece of cardio equipment or heading outside for a walk/run. Run to one light post and walk to the next. Repeat a few times to start and increase the number of times you run as it gets easier.
There is no perfect amount of time for the intervals. If you are just starting out, I’d recommend 3-5 sets of the above time. Always include a 5-minute warm-up, a 3-5 minute cool down, and a stretch!
The elliptical is gentle on the joints and a great piece of equipment to try HIIT on. After warming up for 5 minutes at level 1 or 2, increase the resistance to 3,4, or 5 and speed it up for 15, 20, or 30 seconds. You will be breathing hard. This is good! Then put the level back down to 1 or 2 until your breathing returns to normal. Start slowly with a few sets! As you continue to do this, you will have to raise the resistance. This is a good thing, you are getting more fit!
Start adding one session a week. After a few weeks, add another one. The great thing about HIIT is, you can switch up your equipment. One day you can use the elliptical, one day use the bike, one day get on the treadmill or head outside!
This is the most effective way to get your heart rate up, keep your metabolism running high, and have some fun! Yes, it’s fun. You have to stay tuned into the workout as opposed to steady state cardio where you literally can zone out.
It’s not always easy to try something new. But, the great thing about HIIT is that your first workout can be done in less than 12 minutes! You are so much stronger than you know.
Now get out there and go for it!
– Pam, Master Trainer at b-untethered