One of the first lessons I learned during my fat loss journey is that I hated doing cardio. When I say cardio, I’m thinking of spending a long 40 minutes (or more) on the treadmill while moving at a steady pace. While there are other forms of cardiovascular or aerobic activity to choose from such as yoga, step classes, tae bo, stairmaster, etc., most gyms are equipped with plenty of treadmills because running is one of the most popular cardio exercises. available. Running on the treadmill is also one of the most effective ways to burn fat.
By definition, cardio is basically any activity that forces your heart to work harder than normal. So if you’re used to sitting at your desk all day, even brisk walking can make your heart work harder than normal. Yes, you may benefit from brisk walking or just running, but chances are your progress will be excruciatingly slow.
The new way of cardio
At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard that running at your target heart rate at a steady pace is the best way to burn fat. Let’s call this traditional cardio (click here for definition of target heart rate). While this may be true, it takes a long time. boring and inefficient. I know because I’ve been there and I say this about traditional cardio because there is a much faster and more efficient way to challenge your heart.
One of the latest trends in the fitness industry today that is delivering great results is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Interval what? Ok, if this is a new concept for you, stick with me.
Interval training is a form of cardio (if you can call it that) in which a person goes from a period of low intensity to low intensity cardio in a matter of minutes. For example, yesterday I did my HIIT at the gym on the treadmill for 14 minutes with this:
- Warm up for 1 minute at 3.5 miles per hour (mph)
- Warm up for another 1 minute at 6 mph
- Run for 1 minute at 8 mph and 1.5% incline
- Run for one and a half minutes (90 seconds) at 4 mph and 1.5% incline
- I repeat steps 1-4 5-6 times and then cool down.
This is exactly what I did and believe me I was sweating a lot at the end of my HIIT. One of the things that makes HIIT more effective than traditional cardio is the high intensity. Running or performing cardio at a higher intensity challenges your heart and body to work harder, resulting in more calories burned during your cardio workout in a shorter amount of time. You would basically burn the same number of calories if you ran 6 mph for 40 minutes, but HIIT cuts that time by about 70%! What’s more important after my session is that my body kept working harder to restore my system to its “normal” state, even after I finished running. This results in burning even more calories after leaving the gym even if you are just sitting watching TV or sleeping.
Note: I must warn you to be conservative when you first do HIIT. Try to start at a speed that is comfortable for your high intensity and work your way up as you build your stamina.