A Free Workout + The What and Why of HIIT Cardio

HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio seems to be all the rage right now, as it should be. People used to think for the longest time that more (as in time) cardio = more fat loss, and while that’s not entirely false, it’s also not entirely true (thank goodness!)

This was literally the best news I ever heard when I first starting getting interested in fitness, but I was also super skeptical about it. It seemed obvious to me that because running for 30 minutes was way "harder" than doing a few sprints, it was a more effective way to burn calories.

Here’s the big fat (or not so fat) truth, though:

weight loss = calories out > calories in.

It’s a hardened formula backed by any fitness expert or guru out there that means you will lose weight (literally scientifically proven) if, and only if, you burn more calories than you consume, aka, you are in a caloric deficit.

 Simple as that. It has nothing to do with how long it takes to burn those calories, or how hard it is to burn them. 

So then what’s with the HIIT fad?

Well, it’s definitely not a fad. It’s for real. Interval training, when done effectively, is arguably more efficient for fat loss than it’s counterpart: steady state cardio. Steady state cardio is what it sounds like: maintaining a steady heart rate for an extended period of time. Spiking your heart rate up and down for anywhere between 10-20 minutes = HIIT cardio. 

It’s not so black and white as to say one is “better” than the other, but the two offer different results in terms of fat burning. 

The biggest benefit of HIIT cardio is that you are not only burning calories while you’re hitting (pun intended) those intervals, you’re also continuing to burn them post workout, which is awesome. 

In steady state cardio, you are definitely burning calories/fat, but once your steady state session ends, the calorie burning ends, too. This is why it’s not fair to say one is “better" than the other, it just depends on your goals, as well as your preferences. 

It’s also unfair to say one is “better” than the other because steady state cardio offers advantage likes cardiovascular strength, that HIIT cardio does not. (At least not as effectively.) Still, if you haven’t tried HIIT or don’t trust it enough to work it into your routine, I challenge you to substitute some steady state for HIIT next time you have a cardio session. 

I love HIIT cardio because of it’s versatility. You can turn so many different activities into HIIT workouts. I like to do battle ropes when my gym is empty enough, sprints when I’m really feeling my playlist, jump rope when I’m feelin’ funky, or even make up my ownroutine every now and then to mix things up.  

There are plenty of videos on the internet and Youtube you can try, but this bad boy right here really toasted me last time I did it, and I have bookmarked it for the next time I don’t feel like going to the gym but feel like sweating. I tried this one day in my bedroom thinking I’d see what it was like and just do some sprints outside afterwards if it wasn’t taxing enough. 

22 minutes later, I was flat out taxed, y’all. It was super hard, but went by so fast that I hardly had time to complain. This 22 minute video uses 10 bodyweight exercises, for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, with each exercise repeated for 4 cycles (aka Tabata training). Sounds easy enough, right? “You can do anything for 20 seconds,” I told myself before I started. 

Well, I did it, and I was a sweaty mess well before half way through. Give it a try and tell me I’m not the only one who underestimated the power of a little HIIT!

Stay tuned for a post next week on how to create your OWN HIIT cardio routine!