What is a Cardio HIIT Workout?

By Melania Armento

Published 23 September 2020

Cardiovascular training – it not only improves your aerobic fitness for the strength of your heart and lungs, but also supports your body’s ability to handle stressors and even encourages better quality sleep. Cardiovascular exercise helps you lose weight, get fit, and is an essential element to your overall training routine.

Cardio fitness is also important when it comes to workout recovery and proper oxygen delivery to your muscles. So, what is the most popular workout to hit the cardio scene? You guessed it- it’s High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT.

HIIT has become the golden child of the fitness world, mostly due to its ability to maximize results (read: lose fat and increase fitness) while simultaneously minimizing the time spent actually working out. So, what is a HIIT workout? In this article we’ll go over all the details you need to know in order to get started and make the most of your cardio HIIT workouts!

What is the best way to do HIIT?

HIIT is a type of cardiovascular exercise categorized by short, super intense bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest, recovery, or even a lower intensity exercise. There are a ton of different ways to workout using HIIT, various combinations of work to rest ratios and thousands of different exercises that can be incorporated into a HIIT routine, all of which can be changed, modified or made more difficult depending on your fitness level.

But regardless of the type of HIIT you do, the most important factor – the one that will allow you to burn the most calories and the one that means the most success you’ll see in the long run – is that you go all out during the work phase of the exercise. Because of this intensity with regard to cardio HIIT routines, you are able to get in a great workout in minimal time and reap a myriad of health benefits as well. If you want to know more about all the benefits HIIT has to offer, check out our article.

Can you do HIIT every day?

A typical HIIT workout should last around 15-20 minutes, plus a warm up and cool down. Any longer than this – especially if you feel like you could keep going longer, and you most likely are not working as hard as possible during the exercise periods. Instead of trying to go another round or perform another circuit, re-evaluate your effort during the exercises and try pushing yourself a little harder.

The breakdown of your HIIT workout can look many different ways, and any HIIT workout you find online or take part in in a group exercise setting will recommend specific work and rest periods as well as how many rounds to complete. This could look like 30 seconds work to 30 seconds rest for a 1:1 work-rest ratio, 15 seconds work to 45 seconds recovery for a 1:3 work-rest ratio, 20 to 60, 30 to 90, and so on and so forth.

The actual work to rest ratio you should choose is the one that best relates to your current fitness level, allowing you to work as hard as possible with enough time to sufficiently recover before starting again. 1:3 is a good place to start, working up to a 1:1 ratio and eventually to a longer work time than recovery time as your fitness level improves.

Types of HIIT Workouts

There are also a few common types of HIIT workouts that fall under the larger umbrella term, like Tabata (20 seconds of work and 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds), AMRAP (“as many reps as possible” of a certain exercise or circuit of a few exercises within a given time), and EMOM (“every minute on the minute” performing a given number of reps to be completed within that minute, the only rest being if you finish your reps before the minute is over), among others.

While steady-state cardio was the go-to for years, HIIT has certainly taken the world of cardio workouts by storm. If hitting the treadmill or the elliptical as your cardio workout is something you absolutely dread, it might be time to give a HIIT routine a shot. There’s no denying that HIIT is hard – if you’re doing it right it’s tough and it hurts. You’ll sweat, your legs will burn and your heart will race, but it will be over before you know it and the results will speak for themselves.

Melania Armento

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