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HIIT Cardio: What is it? Exercises, Benefits, & More

hiit cardio benefits

What is HIIT Cardio

HIIT cardio, High Intensity Interval Training, is a workout routine that alternates between both low and high intensity exercises. Interval training has been around for many years. In 1912 a long-distance runner, Hannes Kolehmainen, used interval training to prepare for the Olympics.1

HIIT cardio is one of the most effective and efficient ways to burn fat. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that when doing high intensity exercise, your body burns more fat. The second reason is that interval training lets you exercise at a high intensity for longer than if you were just working out at a high intensity for your entire workout.2

Although the types of low and high intensity cardio exercises can vary, the basic outline for HIIT cardio remains the same – a short, intense period of working out followed by a longer period doing a lower intensity exercise.

HIIT cardio interval exercises can include bodyweight exercises, such as squats, jump rope, and push ups. Sprinting or using equipment can also be used, including weights, and treadmill and elliptical machines.
Who is HIIT cardio good for? HIIT is ideal for anyone wanting to lose fat and weight without losing muscle. It’s also a good workout for people to want to raise their endurance level and improve their cardiovascular system. HIIT is often paired with a supplement regimen include a natural testosterone support like HexoFire Supplements.

Here’s all you need to know about HIIT cardio including the benefits, how to do HIIT cardio, and examples of HIIT cardio.

HIIT Cardio Benefits

Other workouts aren’t as effective as HIIT cardio. For instance, both aerobic and endurance workouts don’t burn fat as effectively as HIIT workouts.

As well as burning fat, high intensity cardio workouts have several other benefits, particularly for men who often want to lose fat without losing any of the muscle they’ve developed.

Lose weight – With most diets and exercise plans, as you lose weight you also lose muscle. With HIIT cardio you’ll lose weight without muscle loss.

Increase your endurance – When you’re in the high intensity part of HIIT training, you need to go hard and exert a lot of energy. This helps to boost your endurance.

Improve aerobic capacity – When you’re doing HIIT cardio, your body uses more oxygen, therefore your oxygen intake increases.3

Gain muscle – Studies show that you can gain muscle by eating more daily calories and protein in combination with HIIT cardio. This is one of the reasons why HIIT cardio for men is so popular. You can build up muscle while losing fat.

Increase your metabolism – Doing HIIT cardio increases your body’s metabolism by stimulating the production of HGH, the human growth hormone, up to 24 hours after a workout. Not only is HGH good for an increased metabolism so you burn more calories, it may also slow down the aging process. 4

No special equipment required – You can do HIIT cardio anywhere, without having to use any special equipment. Using only your body weight, you’ll be able to get an effective workout with the same results you would get using a bike, jump rope, or dumbbells.

hiit cardio benefits

The top benefits of HIIT Cardio.

HIIT Cardio Exercises

Doing HIIT cardio at home is just as effective as working out at the gym or in a HIIT class. Here are some HIIT cardio examples that you can add to your workout routine.

HIIT cardio workout #1

• Warm up for 5 minutes with a combination of light cardio such as knee lifts, step touches to the foot, and walking in place.
• 30 sec of jumping jacks followed by 60 seconds marching in place. Repeat 8 times.
• 30 sec of lunges followed by 60 seconds of step touch. Repeat 8 times.
• 30 sec of squat jumps followed by 60 seconds of knee lifts. Repeat 8 times.
• 30 sec of burpees followed by 60 seconds of marching. Repeat 9 times.
• 30 sec of jogging with high knees followed by 60 seconds of step touch. Repeat 9 times.
• 30 sec of speed skaters followed by 60 seconds of marching. Repeat 8 times.
• 30 sec of side jumping lunges followed by 60 seconds of step touch. Repeat 8 times.
• Cool down for 5 minutes with a combination of marching in place and step touch.

HIIT cardio workout #2

• Warm up for 5 minutes with a combination of light cardio such as knee lifts, step touches to the foot, and walking in place.
• 45 sec of butt kicks, rest 15 sec. Repeat twice.
• 45 sec of burpees, rest 15 sec. Repeat twice
• 45 sec of jump squats, rest 15 sec. Repeat three times
• 45 sec of alternate side lunges, rest 15 sec. Repeat three times
• 45 sec of mountain climbers, rest 15 sec. Repeat three times
• 45 sec of jump lunges, rest 15 sec. Repeat twice
• 40 sec of mountain climbers followed by 20 sec of forearm plank hold, rest 1 minute. Repeat twice.
• 40 sec of plank jacks followed by 20 sec of forearm plank hold, rest 1 minute. Repeat twice.
• 40 sec of lateral plank walk followed by 20 sec of forearm plank hold, rest 1 minute. Repeat twice.

There is no best HIIT cardio workout – doing those exercise activities that you enjoy the most will be effective when used in interval training. As well, you can use the treadmill and elliptical for an intense HIIT workout.

HIIT Cardio Treadmill

The treadmill can be an effective piece of equipment for your HIIT cardio workout. Set the incline and speed to a setting that you’ll only be able to sustain for about one minute. After you’ve been running at this setting for the one minute, slow down the intensity to a light jog for the next two minutes. Repeat the HIIT intervals before a cool down.

HIIT Cardio Elliptical

Using the elliptical is another way to get a good HIIT cardio workout. It offers a low-impact workout without putting stress on your joints. Set the elliptical speed, height, and level of resistance to a setting that’s going to challenge you. Alternate between one minute of high intensity followed by two minutes at a lower intensity, slowing down but not stopping.

HIIT vs Cardio

HIIT is all about training in intervals at different levels of intensity. Cardio, also known as steady state training, is when you train and work out at one consistent level of intensity and speed for your entire workout.

When you’re doing cardio training, you need to work out for longer periods of time in order to burn enough calories for weight loss. It’s easy to reach a plateau with steady state cardio because your body is doing the same exercise over and over again. This can also lead to boredom with your exercise routine, making your workouts tedious and difficult to maintain. As well, cardio can cause repetitive-stress injury when you do the same movements over and over again.

With HIIT cardio, your body burns more fat in a shorter period of time. You’ll burn fewer calories than in a steady state workout, but this works to your benefit by increasing your metabolism, so you continue to burn calories after your workout. The variety of exercises you can perform in your HIIT cardio routine is more effective at keeping you interested in working out.

HIIT Cardio for Beginners – How to get started

If you’re new to the HIIT cardio workout, it’s important to start out slow and build up the intensity of your workout. Before starting with HIIT, you should be able to exercise and work out for at least 20 minutes without any difficulty. HIIT workouts are physically demanding on your body, so take the time to build up your cardio slowly.

When you first start doing HIIT cardio, go at your own pace and modify any exercises you need to. If you’ve had an injury, don’t push yourself too hard or you may aggravate the injury or risk a new one.
The key to a successful HIIT cardio routine is to listen to your body and focus on your form when performing any of the exercises. Here are some further HIIT cardio tips for beginners:

• Warm up for 5 minutes before your HIIT workout to stretch your muscles.
• Cool down for 5 minutes after your workout.
• Stop when you need to.
• Slowly build up your endurance level over a period of two to four weeks.
• Only work out five days a week, taking at least two days for adequate recovery.
• Lower exercise intensity when tired rather than stopping completely to avoid feeling dizzy.

Research Cited
  • 1Zuhl, M. & Kravitz, I. (2012). HIIT vs. Continuous endurance training: Battle of the aerobic titans. IDEA Fitness Journal. 9(2), 34-40. Retrieved on December 20, 2018 from View Reference
  • 2Zhang, H. & Tong, TK. (2017). Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women. J Diabetes Res. 2017: 5071740. Retrieved on December 20, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237463/
  • 3Jabbal, AS. & Baxter-Jones, A. (2017). Does High Intensity Interval Training Improve Aerobic Power Development More Than Endurance Training? USURJ. Vol 3 No 1: January 2017. Retrieved on December 20, 2018 from https://usurj.journals.usask.ca/article/view/211
  • 4Vijayakumar, A. & Yakar, S. (2011). The Intricate Role of Growth Hormone in Metabolism. Front Endocrinol. 2:32. Retrieved on December 20, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356038/