Picture this: you’ve finished your weight training session at the gym. Now you are face-to-face with the elliptical machine for your 45 minute cardio routine. Your muscles ache and your mind is already checked out. The last thing you want to do is yet another boring cardio session.
Well, what if everything you’ve been taught about cardio is wrong? What if you could change the way you think about exercise? What if all you needed was a 20 minute cardio session three times a week to reach your goals and lose weight? Too good to be true? But it is! And even better, it is more effective – and more fun!
Effective Weight Loss Doesn’t Mean Boring Cardio Workouts
To lose weight, the body needs a combination of a healthy diet with a calorie deficit, strength training to improve your metabolism and tone muscle, and cardio to burn extra calories and become leaner.
It seems to be widely accepted that the cardio prescription is a long and tedious session on the elliptical, bike, or treadmill, while keeping the heart rate at a comfortable yet steady pace. While this is a great place to start if you’re new to fitness, it is not the most effective way to incorporate cardio into your workouts. In fact, if you do regular weight training, long periods of cardio can hinder muscle growth and completely undo the hard work you’ve been doing in the squat rack!
HIIT, or high intensity interval training, consists of bursts of high-intensity exercise coupled with a few minutes of active rest, all done in intervals over 20 – 30 minutes. These workouts improve the rate at which your body processes excess glucose – which turns to fat if it is not burned – and conditions the body in a fun-packed workout.
During a HIIT workout, you need to do 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise all-out to the point of breathlessness. This is followed by one minute of active rest to catch your breath. Then you repeat the process. Not only is this a more effective way of burning calories, but the workouts go by quicker and can be mixed up with many different exercises.
How To Shake Up Your Cardio Workout
The next time you’re at the gym eyeing up that dreaded treadmill, try this instead: do a five minute warm-up on the stationary bicycle, followed by intervals of 30 second sprints mixed with one minute of active recovery. Before you know it, your 30 minute cardio session is done, and you are almost guaranteed to have burned double your regular calories!