For something different, today I’m sharing a cardio (yes, cardio!) workout from one of my previous newsletters. (Shameless plug: for more workouts and exclusive content, make sure you sign up for my newsletter here!)
When it comes to cardio, there has been a gradual shift towards HIIT (high-intensity interval training, whereby you perform short periods of maximum effort exercise followed by short periods of recovery) over the past few years. Why?
- HIIT may not be easy but it’s more time-efficient than regular cardio. Look at the person who just finished 10 minutes of all-out, gut-busting hill sprints and then look at someone who just spent 45 minutes leisurely reading their book on the elliptical. It should be obvious who had the better workout, and who saved a lot of time in the process (perfect for those of us that are busy!).
- Your post-exercise energy burn will be far higher after an HIIT session as it damages more of your muscle cells. I know this sounds scary, but it’s actually a good thing as it means your metabolism will be raised for up to 48 hours after an HIIT workout.
- Studies have shown that you are more likely to burn muscle as well as fat during moderate to long duration sessions of steady state cardio, whereas HIIT encourages your body to burn fat and conserve its muscle mass. This will produce better physical results.
- Your body will build up a tolerance to cardio pretty quickly. Within about six weeks, your body will burn only around half the amount of calories it did for the same amount of initial effort. This means that you have to either increase the duration or intensity (which is difficult when you are, say, running over long distances). It is much more difficult for your body to adapt to HIIT, as you are consistently working close to 100 per cent effort.
If you want to include HIIT in your regime alongside lifting, I recommend adding in one to three short (i.e. less than 20 minutes) sessions per week. This can be in the form of sprints (as in the workout below), plyometrics, sled pushes, barbell complexes or a light weight resistance training circuit.
The workout below only takes 20 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down, and is different to your standard 1 minute on/1 minute off sprint routine. You will increase the speed with each minute, taking the time to (actively) recover between each increase. Like a pyramid, you will reach a peak before coming down the other side, gradually decreasing the speed.
The speeds I’ve listed are what I personally use, but feel free to adjust as necessary.
Let me know if you try it!
Do you do HIIT and, if so, how often?