Cardio shouldn’t take forever
Studies since Tabata’s Method in 1996 have shown that short, intense bursts followed by brief rest periods do more for the body in less time than longer, steady-state cardio routines. Although steady-state cardio (longer, slower cardio) definitely still has it’s place, more can be achieved in less time with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
HIIT increases our metabolism (RMR) for up to 24 hours after training due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, according to Jeffrey King’s 2001 thesis for East Tennessee State University. It may also improve maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) more effectively than doing the more traditional steady-state routines.
In short, you get better results in less time when you bust your arse for short, intense bursts, followed by brief rest periods.
Two bird’s with one stone: losing fat while improving athleticism
Having a sports background, I’ve always had different twists on my cardio routines. Whereas most cardio routines involve one method of training – usually running or the bike. I like to throw in a number of different exercises into the mix.
By working the full body, rather than simply doing sprints (sprints are awesome, not knocking sprints), you’re burning more calories in more areas. You’re also improving your strength, muscular endurance, and athleticism.
Sprints are my “go-to” cardio exercise. But variety is always a good thing, especially if I can throw in some plyometric exercises that’ll help improve my speed and power, but also burn fat at the same time.
What exercises should I do?
Pure sprinting is awesome. I’ll always sprint. It’s actually easier on your knees than the steady pounding of a long run because there’s more gliding involved and less friction on the knees.
Burpees are a highly effective exercise that help burn a ton of fat. Add a push up at the bottom, or a chin-up at the top to take this exercise to the next level.
Doing bag work is another great form of cardio that attacks the system in a whole other way than running. For the best results, mix up your pace and duration. Go ‘all-out’ for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Or, you can do the traditional 3 minute rounds followed by 45-60 seconds of recovery time.
Whatever exercises you’re doing, make sure you’re performing them at full speed. Not half speed, or almost full speed. You want to spike your heart rate, improve your performance and VO2 Max. You want your body craving oxygen after the workout is finished. You’re not going to accomplish this with a half-assed approach.
Quick and effective cardio workout
Do each exercise consecutively, resting for 30-60 seconds when all four have been completed. Repeat this circuit 3 times.
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