I’m on the HIIT bandwagon

21 Apr

The other day, I picked up a copy of  Muscle & Fitness HERS magazine that I had saved from last year. There was an article that I hadn’t remembered reading before about HIIT (a.k.a. “energy burst”) cardio training. It was about a woman who is 6’1″ that has always been athletic, but packed on 100 lbs after college.  After cleaning up her eating habits, she only lost a few pounds in a 4- month period. She was discouraged because she spent hours and hours doing cardio.

I don’t know what made her do it, but she switched to HIIT, reducing her cardio to just an hour for the entire week. Immediately the weight started flying off. Now, she looks like she stepped out of Super Model Figure School. The transformation is amazing.

From volleyball players to doctors, figure models and bloggers — I’ve read them all say that HIIT works. And not only does it work, they say it helps to prolong fat burning, increase HGH levels and build muscle.

Since January, I have incorporated HIIT along with long-term endurance cardio sessions. But I’ve been afraid of doing too little cardio, so I do about 5-7 hours of cardio weekly. I can’t help thinking, though, that what I am doing is inefficient. I also think I may be missing out on a great muscle-building opportunity.

HIIT almost sounds too good to be true — but then again, I keep hearing it, over and over again, so it doesn’t seem like a fad. I think, like me, most people are  afraid to let go of their long cardio sessions in fear of gaining weight. But if HIIT can keep my metabolism high and build lean muscle while burning fat, I have to try it, at least long enough to see if it works.

I’ve decided what is best for me is to do 20 minutes of HIIT cardio 5 days a week. I started this plan on Monday, doing it the way the article in M&F HERS suggested: 30 seconds of all-out intensity craziness followed by 90 seconds of cool down, and then repeat for 20 minutes.* The first day I was on the treadmill and this morning I was on the bike.

Even being a novice at HIIT, I know that the key with this type of exercise is to not slack off. The energy bursts have to be crazy intense — you pretty much have to look like a lunatic for 30 seconds. If it gets me results, though, I could care less!

Steph

Watch me do it!

*As an example, today on the bike (after warming up on Level 2 for 3 minutes), I put the bike on Level 10 and started cycling as fast and hard as I could for 30 seconds. Then, I brought my heart rate back down for 90 seconds by switching to Level 4. I repeated the same thing for 20 minutes, but I did the remaining all-out bursts at Level 12. By the third burst, my legs were burning and I was breathing hard. Time flies because just after you recover, you are back at it again, looking like a lunatic for another 30 seconds.

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2 Responses to “I’m on the HIIT bandwagon”

  1. slenamond April 21, 2010 at 2:47 PM #

    I would love for this to be true in my case. I love HIIT workouts and the time that they save.
    Please keep us informed as to your progress and what you find. I am like you SO afraid to let go of the longer cardio.

    • Stephanie April 21, 2010 at 3:05 PM #

      Absolutely! Unless I am seeing bad results, I plan to keep doing it for at least 3 months so I can give it a good shot. After just two sessions, my legs ARE sore today!

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