One of the most common questions we receive from Conscious Muscle coaching clients involves options for cardio when you’re short on time or when you are bored of your routine. My solution for both of these questions is the same: a special blend of high intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT involves repeated intervals of hard efforts followed by recovery intervals. Research on the benefits of HIIT is very impressive, with HIIT resulting in improvements in cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, and abdominal fat. Additionally, HIIT is not associated with muscle loss like other types of cardiovascular activity. HIIT also provides something called EPOC, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. This means that, after a HIIT exercise session, you consume more oxygen and, hence, burn more calories.¹
I learned one of my favorite HIIT workouts from the book One Minute Workout. Yes, the name is enticing but a bit of a misnomer. Sorry to say, the workout will take you longer than one minute, but not too much longer. This book also presents some very impressive scientific evidence to support the benefits of HIIT and a number of HIIT protocols. My favorite involves 10 repeats of a 1-minute hard interval followed by a 1-minute recovery interval.
I pick 5 cardiovascular / monostructural movements: stationary bike, running, jumping rope, stair climbing, rowing, burpees etc. After a proper warm up, I do 10 rounds of 1 minute hard effort followed by 1 minute of active rest (e.g., walking). I do each of my 5 movements twice to make up the 10 rounds. After I complete all 10 rounds, I do a general cool down, and I’m done!
Here’s one workout I recently completed using the protocol above when I had access to some gym equipment. I alternated between a ‘fan-style’ bike, rower, jump rope, ski erg, and running up and down stairs.
Here’s another workout I completed with access to no gym equipment. Really, the only limit is your creativity!
We encourage you to give HIIT a try next time you’re pressed for time to workout or need a change. We’d love to hear the combinations you try!
American Council on Exercise (2014) Personal Trainer Manual. Fifth Edition. San Diego, CA. Author.