What Is HIIT Cardio?
HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is a workout approach focusing on intensive training in a shorter time frame. These workout sessions focus on doing intense and high-energy exercises for a short time and follow it up with a longer low-energy break. This makes one cycle (or a “rep” as the pros call it), and the session continues by repeating the cycle multiple times.
HIIT cardio sessions are a lot shorter than traditional workout sessions. It is because HIIT cardio burns more calories than traditional workout sessions.
Benefits of HIIT Cardio
This is probably the part everyone is waiting for. Why should you get into HIIT? What are the benefits, and is there any catch? The answer is no. But there are plenty of benefits of HIIT cardio. The time effectiveness itself is a pretty big benefit. You can squeeze in a quick session in your schedule without any trouble, and you won’t even need any equipment for that. But what other benefits can you get? Let’s see.
1. Intense Calorie Burn
HIIT cardio burns more calories than usual workout routines, and yes, this claim is backed by science. Multiple studies show that the people who do HIIT cardio workouts like riding a stationary bike burn more calories than people who do regular workouts in the same time frame.
HIIT sessions burn 25-30% more calories than weight training, running, and regular biking. Another study shows that HIIT increases human growth hormones (HGH) in people, which HIIT results in burning more calories.
2. Improved Sleeping Habit
Messed-up sleeping cycles are surprisingly common among people now, especially the younger age groups. Many people struggle to fall asleep or have a quality sleep, which can cause many problems. HIIT cardio can help with this too.
A review study published in 2021 shows that if you perform any HIIT workout for 16 minutes (or more) for 8 weeks, your sleep quality can improve. And if you do HIIT cardio at least thrice a week, you’ll spend less time awake on your bed. In both cases, the studies were done on adults.
3. Increased Metabolism Rate
HIIT cardio can also improve your metabolism rate, but it will be more effective after your workout sessions. Most people would assume the metabolism rate will be high during working out and then go down but that’s not the case with HIIT.
HIIT burns more calories than a regular workout which triggers the fast metabolism process. But that’s not the most interesting part, though. HIIT workout sessions burn more calories for the recovery phase (since it is a high-energy workout routine), and it lasts multiple hours after you stop working out. Multiple studies support this so you know it is a valid benefit.
4. Fat Loss and Muscle Gain
Another highlight of HIIT cardio is its physique-boosting benefits. HIIT cardio is surprisingly good at burning fat tissues, especially around the midsection of your body. You can also target fat tissues of a specific area and work your way to shedding them.
HIIT cardio can also help you gain muscle, but that’s usually more of targeted growth. You’ll only grow muscles in the parts you use most for your HIIT sessions. Studies also show that muscle gain from HIIT cardio happens most if the target person had a sedentary lifestyle before. You probably won’t grow muscles if you’re already into working out.
HIIT Cardio Practices
So, what exercises should you start with? You should discuss that with your trainer first because they’ll give you the best advice. But just to give you some ideas, here are some HIIT cardio exercises you can do.
HIIT exercise is all about the reps, so make sure you introduce some variety. The best practice would be making an exercise schedule based on where you want to focus. You can pick individual exercises from here or mix them to make a full routine.
1. Mountain Climb
This is a good option for you if you’re a beginner. Start with getting on all fours and then rise to a high plank. Make sure your knees are off the ground, and your feet are shoulder-width apart. Keep your hips down and bring your left knee to your chest. Engage your glutes and core as much as you can. Set your leg back and quickly follow up with your right leg. Keep doing this for about 20 seconds.
2. Bike Sprint
This is a good option if you’re in a real-time crunch and don’t want to engage with difficult exercises. Get your station bike and add some resistance to it. Then pedal as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Then slow down and pedal slowly (with low energy) for a minute. Go back to fast pedalling again and repeat this for 10-20 reps.
3. Battle Ropes Blitz
If you want to keep things simple, this is for you. Pick up a pair of battle ropes and start doing slams (or waves, whatever you like) as fast as you can. Continue for 30 seconds, then let your heartbeat come down for 1 minute. After that, go back to the battle ropes!
Are There Any Alternatives to HIIT Cardios?
Of course, there is. If you don’t like HIIT cardio much but want some of the benefits, you can pick any of these exercises instead.
Want something that will engage your full body? Go with boxing. Boxers usually do a combination of strength training and interval training, so you’ll be in luck. Pick a heavy bag for training and take breaks between practicing your moves.
Swimming is a really good exercise, especially if you want to focus on your upper body. Swimming engages your core and arm muscles for exercise and is a good breathing control builder.
HIIT cardio is practically a gold mine for people who don’t have time for a full regular workout session. It also has plenty of other benefits and is a good option if you want to lose fat effectively. But whatever you do, make sure to discuss it with your trainer to save yourself from possible injuries.