Logan Williams, Staff Writer
Many people are aware that cardio exercises are important for improving overall health. However, people aren’t always aware of all the options available to them. Running, swimming, biking, and playing sports are the common forms of cardio.
Just think of a gym: rows of treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes come to mind. Yet, one of the most effective forms of cardio is high intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT is more of a training method rather than a specific cardio exercise. What this means is that it can be applied to running, swimming, biking, and other activities. It is a template that can fit into any type of cardio exercise.
The premise of HIIT is to do short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by low (but active) segments of exercise. For instance, a HIIT workout for jumprope may call for 10 seconds of jumping as fast as possible, then 20 seconds of medium to slow pace, then 10 more seconds of jumping as fast as possible. This pattern would continue for a specified amount of time. Depending on fitness level, HIIT workouts run from 10-30 minutes; 30 being the level of elite fitness.
For example, let’s say the person is a beginner so they are going to jumprope for 10 minutes. Following the template, they would do 10 seconds fast, 20 medium to slow, 10 fast, 20 medium to slow, and so on, until they reach 10 minutes. This would figure out to be 20 circuits.
Jump rope is just an example of an exercise that HIIT can be applied to. Let’s look at running, swimming, and biking. For each exercise, most people tend to focus on either distance or time. For HIIT, you need to focus on time. Keeping track of the distance is useful, but only necessary for the more advanced.
When running, swimming, or biking, break down the workout into intervals of high intensity and low intensity. During the high intensity segments, it is important to go as fast as you can without overexerting. After your high intensity intervals, you should be out of breath, but not to the point to where you are going to pass out. Try for 75-80 percent of your maximum when you first start out, and work on moving that number up to 90 percent as you get into better shape.
For the low intensity segments, you do not stop. If this means jogging slowly then that’s okay. If you have to resort to doing a slow sidestroke then that’s okay. The point is, you can’t stop moving. HIIT workouts are short in nature and in order to get their maximum result, you need to stay moving throughout the whole workout.
But, why HIIT? Why not just run for thirty minutes? Well to start, HIIT has been proven to boost the metabolism for up to 24 hours. What this means is that even after your workout, you are still burning calories. So when you are on the couch watching TV, you can thank HIIT for still burning more calories. With regular running, when you stop, the calorie burning stops.
The second reason to try HIIT is because it is highly efficient. You get in, you get out, and you get results. No more long 30 minute runs, or an hour on a stationary bike. With HIIT, you can burn close to 300 calories in 15 minutes, and a few 100 more over the next 24 hours.
So, as busy college students, think about adding HIIT to your workouts to help save time without sacrificing results. As always, happy training!
Disclaimer: HIIT is high intensity in nature, so make sure to warm up properly before starting your workouts.