HIIT It Hard: Everything You Need to Know About High Intensity Interval Training

hiit cardio

One of the biggest realizations a person can have on their fitness journey is that it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Everyone’s body responds differently to various workout styles and eating habits, which is why the secret to fitness success is to find what works for you.

Maybe you’ve been doing well with the diet you’re on, but you’re not the biggest fan of running on the treadmill every day. Maybe what you need to do is spend more time lifting weights instead of doing cardio, or at least try HIIT cardio.

The more you explore what kind of workout styles are available to you, the better you start to understand your body and how to best get the results you want.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about HIIT.

What Is a HIIT Workout?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It’s a fast-paced workout style where you rotate between working hard and giving it your all, taking a quick break, then doing a certain motion at 100% again. It’s possible to do HIIT with various forms of cardio and with low-weight free weights, too.

The key to HIIT is to do 5-10 rounds every time you do one set – like 7 rounds of sprinting and walking or 5 rounds of shoulder presses, bicep curls, and tricep dips. The repetitiveness makes the workout effective and keeps you on your toes.

Some people love HIIT from the very first workout they try while others need a little more time to get adjusted to it. Try it on the treadmill with sprints, on the bike with hills, or by the free weights as a warm-up for your workout. You may realize you like doing HIIT a lot more than you think!

The Benefits of Doing HIIT

It’s one thing to understand how HIIT cardio and lifting works and another to realize how effective it can be. There are many benefits to this kind of workout.

Five of them are listed below.

1. Save Time During Workouts

One of the biggest excuses people have for not working out is that they don’t have the time. It is hard to give yourself a whole hour at the gym when you have a lot of work to get done and/or a family to take care of.

What if you could cut your workout time in half, though? Imagine getting in and out of the gym in 30 minutes or less – or not even having to be in the gym at all!

HIIT cardio can provide that. It’s a fast-paced workout style that gets your blood pumping quickly and keeps your heart rate working hard from start to finish.

You can’t match that by lifting heavy weights or even with an hour on the treadmill. If you want to make your heart work harder, you need to pump it up in short, effective intervals.

2. Boost Your Resting Heart Rate and Metabolism

The more you work your heart rate while exercising the stronger it is while you’re laying down or just hanging out. Over time, HIIT cardio starts to make your resting heart rate perform better, which boosts the speed of your metabolism.

If you don’t understand what any of this means, you’ll definitely start to feel the difference. A higher resting heart rate will give you more energy throughout the day whether you’re working out, at the office, or at home. This makes it easier for your body to digest its food. Your metabolism will better be able to flush out toxins and utilize the nutrients you’re giving your body.

3. Burn Fat

Another reason to start doing HIIT cardio is how effective it is for burning fat!

The results are two-fold. For starters, a HIIT workout gets you sweating like no other. It’s a great way to build up a pump and challenge your body, which is essential for losing weight. Add in the faster metabolism you’re going to feel once you’ve been doing HIIT on a regular basis and the results are sure to blow you away.

HIIT is great for people who are obese and struggling with weight and for people who want to slim down without losing muscle, too. It targets your fat without compromising your strength.

4. Enjoy Diverse Workouts

Keep in mind that not all HIIT cardio and weight exercises are the same. It’s possible to create a HIIT routine that challenges every major muscle group. Or, you can stick to the classic cardio-focused HIIT workouts for a whole-body exercise to get you sweating.

For example, if you were to do a HIIT circuit as a burnout on leg day you could do free squats, then lunges, then burpees. You’d do this over and over for a set amount of time or until a certain number of rounds were completed. You could even incorporate weights into the mix by doing weighted lunges or wall balls instead of squats.

On the other hand, a strictly cardio HIIT routine would be the repetition of one motion done quickly then slowly in intervals. You could sprint then walk on a treadmill or row for a certain amount of time then rest on a rower. You could also create a series of calisthenic movements like push-ups, jumping jacks, and high knees.

If you don’t know what you’d prefer to do, try a group interval training class to get some HIIT workout ideas.

5. Workout Anywhere, Anytime

This may be the best benefit of all – you don’t need a gym to do a HIIT routine. All you really need is an open space and the right workout attire. Weights and other equipment can be incorporated as mentioned above, but they’re entirely optional.

Even if you want to do the most basic HIIT routine of all, sprinting then walking, you don’t need the treadmill. You can sprint up and down your street or driveway in intervals and get the same results.

Get the Results You’re Looking for with HIIT Cardio and Circuit Training

You can read about HIIT cardio and circuit training all you want. But, until you get on your feet and try it out you won’t really understand just how amazing this workout style is.

You don’t have to go all-in with HIIT and forget about all the other workout styles you’ve been doing. In fact, the best way to train using HIIT is in conjunction with things like weights and resistance training.

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