When I first started working out I remember spending hour after hour doing cardio. I eventually made it to the point where I could go a whole hour on the elliptical and not even break a sweat. While I was proud of this accomplishment, I got bored and wasn't really seeing the results I wanted to see. I began to research and realized that there are actually methods to doing cardio. Really? That seemed so silly to me. After all 60 minutes of cardio is 60 minutes of cardio, right? WRONG!!! All along I had been doing steady state cardio. From my research and cardio experimentation I realized that I can actually be more efficient with my cardio workouts by implementing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short)
So the big question is What is HIIT?
In simple terms it is alternating intervals of high intensity and low intensity in your workout which results in your heart rate going up and then coming back down.
There are a few things that you should remember when planning a HIIT session. You should always include a warm-up session before your workout and a cool down session afterward. When you are planning your intervals where you are alternating between working at your full capacity and giving it all you got (feel like you are dying but can keep going) and working at about half capacity (you are comfortable but still feel like you are working). You should have your high intensity intervals last about twice as long as the lower intensity intervals. For the most part a HIIT session should last no more than 30 minutes.
Here is what a typical HIIT session on the treadmill looks like for me. As a non runner, this workout absolutely exhausts me.
2 minute warm up walking at a comfortable pace
Repeat the following for 7 repetitions
1 minute running at 4.5 mph
2 minutes running at 6 mph
2 minute cool down walking at a comfortable pace
While I will be the first person to admit that HIIT really is a lot more physically demanding than steady state cardio, I personally have found that I can burn as many calories in 25 minutes doing HIIT as I can in 45 minutes doing steady state cardio. As a busy mom of 2, who works a full time job, that alone is a win for me.