You’re stoked to jump into your weightlifting routine until mid-week when it’s cardio day. Among weightlifters, the traditional view of cardio is not a favorable one. Most people would prefer to skip cardio and get themselves back into the weight room. This is understandable if you associate cardio with walking on a treadmill for an hour. Today, cardio is quite different. The norm today is to use a type of exercise called high intensity interval training.
Also known as H.I.I.T., high intensity interval training is an ideal way to boost strength, burn body fat, and support lean muscle mass gain. We love it because it saves you a ton of time. Let’s take a look at what HIIT is, the acute variables behind it, and how you can use it for your cardio day to promote weight loss.
HIIT: Muscle-Building Cardio
High intensity interval training is quite the opposite of the traditional view on cardio called steady state training. Let’s breakdown the differences between the two:
Steady state training is probably what you think of when you hear the word “cardio.” Walking or jogging on a treadmill, riding at a comfortable pace on the exercise bike, and stepping in place: these are all examples of steady state training.
Nothing changes much, especially the intensity level. The duration is usually around 45 to 60 minutes. Admittedly, this is a good approach for beginners as your body is adjusting to the demands of the new exercises. The problem with steady state training, or cardio, is that it is a low-intensity, long duration approach to cardiovascular exercise that doesn’t challenge the body in the way you need for serious gains. Your body needs new challenges. Steady state can’t provide that, but high intensity interval training can.
With H.I.I.T. workouts, your body is introduced to constantly changing variables. You’ll move through different intensity levels and movements while supporting your lean muscle gains. What’s more, studies show that H.I.I.T. is an effective way to scorch fat, build muscle, and improve endurance.
Science of High Intensity Interval Training
Hight intensity interval training has been shown to induce a greater caloric and fat burn than traditional cardio. It will also spike your excess post oxygen consumption (EPOC) levels as well. This is the number of calories that your body will continue burning well after the workout has finished. In other words, you’ll continue burning calories for hours after you finish your workout.
Check out our article to read more about the benefits and science of HIIT.
To sum it up: Cardio day doesn’t have to be boring. H.I.I.T. ensures you’ll love cardio and get the results you want.
Acute Variables of H.I.I.T.
Variables will range based on the workout. For example, a beginner-friendly H.I.I.T. workout is not going to have the same acute variables as an advanced CrossFit-based workout. However, each H.I.I.T. workout does follow a general set of acute variables.
A high intensity interval workout starts with building an exercise list of no more than six or seven movements. You should base this around your current fitness levels. These exercises should be bodyweight-based and incorporate as many muscle groups as possible.
Compound movements are best for activating the most muscle groups in one movement. For example, squats and burpees are excellent high intensity exercises.
Once you have your exercises, you will decide on a set number of repetitions to complete. Try to set them to just above your ability level so you can perform the movement but you find it slightly challenging.
When performing the H.I.I.T. workout, there will no break in between exercises. You must complete all of the exercises on the list before taking a break. A rest break will last around two to three minutes and then you begin the list again.
Muscle Building Cardio Workout
Since most people pair their cardio day with a core workout, we’ll supply you with both. The following workouts can be done on the same day or separate. Set it up to complement your current workout routine.
High Intensity Cardio Workout
- Skipping Rope: 2 x 60 seconds
- Push-up: 2 x 30 seconds
- Jumping Jacks: 2 x 60 seconds
- Mountain Climbers: 2 x 60 seconds
- Step-up with Knee Raises: 2 x 30 seconds
- Burpees: 2 x 60 seconds
- Jogging: 2 x 60 seconds
High Intensity Core Workout
- Crunches: 2 x 10
- Hindu Push-up: 2 x 8 to 10
- Mountain Climbers: 2 x 8-10
- Lying Leg Lift: 2 x 10
- Superman: 2 x 10
- Side Plank: 2 x 8 to 10
- Leg Pull-In Knee-up: 2 x 10
- Plank: 2 x 15 seconds
Will You Use HIIT for Your Cardio Day?
If so, will you use the workouts above or will you create your own HIIT workout? Have a video of yourself crushing a HIIT workout? Tag us on Instagram so we can share!