HIIT – the next level of cardio training

Hussein Bolt, Olympic gold medalist

Won't be long before you look like this guy

Jogging around your neighborhood is a great way to keep fit and build up cardio endurance. It’s also a great exercise for beginners, since it’s easy to see improvements in endurance really quickly. The problem with jogging is that fat burning during jogging really doesn’t start until about a half hour into your workout. So when you’re ready to amp up your cardio routine, try working out the HIIT way.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It involves training in short bursts (like, 30 seconds short) at maximum effort followed by longish periods of rest. Studies have shown that this method of training so depletes the muscle’s oxygen supply that for up to 24 hours afterward the body’s resting metabolic rate is increased. While the actual rates of RMR increase are still being studied, what this basically means is that for hours after a sprint session your body is still burning fat to try and repair the muscles.

Before you start an HIIT workout, be sure that you are properly stretched out and warmed up – tripping while running at high speeds can seriously hurt. The type of exercise you are doing should determine the length of each set. Runners should run about 80 – 100 yards absolutely as fast as possible and then take a break for about 90 seconds. Swimmers should finish 2 laps across a standard 25-yard pool, then rest. People doing things that don’t involve traveling, such as boxing or tire-hammering (more info on those to come) should shoot for 20 – 30 seconds at maximum effort. As you improve, try decreasing your rest periods and increasing your number of sets.

When you feel like you’re ready, try running hill sprints instead of flat. These will get your leg muscles shredded and prime them for the explosive strength you’ll need for sports like basketball. And if you’re looking for the ultimate challenge, try dune sprints next time you’re at the beach – just like hill sprints, except the ground is actively working to impede your progress, and each step is literally a fight against gravity.

If you’re new to working out, jogging is an excellent way to stay in shape. It’s also a good social activity for people who are primarily interested in having a good time. But if you want to get serious about your fitness, give HIIT a try. It can’t hurt…at least not until the next morning.

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