March 18, 2010
Your Best Bridal Body: Part 2 — Turning up the volume on your cardio
So we’ve all heard, ad nauseum, about the importance of cardiovascular health. So we go to the gym. We become slaves to the elliptical or the treadmill. We pump out mile after mile. But, for me at least, traditional, endurance-based cardio doesn’t seem to provide the results I feel it should. Actually, other than improved endurance and cardiovascular health (which obviously aren’t to be overlooked, but let’s be honest, I’m talking about vanity and health here!) I saw very few physical benefits from cardio once I got settled into a routine.
What has worked for me has been a good mix of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weightlifting (more on that in Part 3).
HIIT is basically interval training on steroids. I do my HIIT on a 2:1 ratio of high intensity to lower intensity. What does that look like? I do mine on the treadmill (HIIT is best done on an outdoor track. But I live in Canada. And it’s March. So…yeah) with the following process: two minutes of walking at 3.5, one minute of running at 8.5, two minutes of walking at 3.5, one minute of running at 8.6, rinse, repeat until you reach the 20 minute mark (you can always start with 15 minutes and work your way up). You want your top speed to be whatever “all out” is for you. Basically, at the end of the minute of high intensity work you should feel totally spent. By the end of your workout you should pretty much feel like death (I know, I’m like so inspirational, right?!).
Quick (kind of) side note — I used to do HIIT going from a jog (5.5) to a sprint (8.5+), but I’ve recently changed to walking at 3.5 for the low intensity portions of my workout and this has been WAY more effective, because it means that I can really go all out when I get to the sprinting portions.
Not sure what the heck I’m on about? Check out this video for a great how-to on HIIT:
So the bottom line is this: HIIT is more effective for fat loss than steady state cardio. Why, you ask? Excellent question! Studies have shown a significant after-burn that goes along with HIIT. When you do steady state cardio you log your, say, 2.5 miles and burn 250 calories; the second you step off the treadmill, you cease burning calories at that higher level. HIIT, on the other hand, keeps your body burning calories well after your workout, so ultimately the burn is higher and your thighs/bum/tummy are smaller.
Get it? Got it? Good.
Next time we’ll talk about lifting some serious weights and why big weights can equal a smaller body.
Have your incorporated HIIT into your fitness routine? What kind of results have you seen?