HIIT is a form of cardio where you’ll do 20-30 second bouts of all out effort, followed by 30-60 second rest. It repeats 5-6 times and then you cool down. Most sessions are 15-30 minutes long.
HIIT is great to add 2-3 times a week. I love it for when I am tight on time and need to maximize calorie burn. With HIIT, you can burn as many calories in the 15-30 minutes as you would in a 30-60 minute steady state cardio session. It also has the benefit of the EPOC effect. The 3-4 hours after you train, your body is still burning calories trying to catch up to the high intensity demands you placed on it (keep in mind it isn’t a huge surplus of calories). Also, it’s great for the person who just likes to get after it. Regular cardio can get so monotonous and boring. HIIT can be done quickly, and as a circuit, using weights, or whatever you can come up with. It can be as boring or as fun as you’d like.
The best way to incorporate cardio without risking doing too much is using a variety of methods, and ONLY adding them in as NEEDED. Don’t feel the need to just add cardio the moment you start a diet. A lot of times, simply just lowering your caloric intake can be all you need to see the scale drop.
Keep Recovery In Mind
I’ve had too many clients come to me wanting to lose weight. Their biggest problem was doing too much cardio and not eating enough. The only way to fix that was to relieve the stress on the body by lowering cardio and increasing their food intake. As you can imagine that’s a hard pill for that client to swallow because those are literally the two OPPOSITE things of what they’d ever imagine doing. In fact, I’ve had a lot of clients not want to go that direction because they were convinced they’d add fat.
Remember, it’s called HIGH INTENSITY for a reason. If you do it too frequently, you risk chronically elevated cortisol which can lead to bigger problems down the road. It can also be hard on your joints, depending on which form of exercise you choose. More isn’t better. When I took clients doing too much cardio and still not losing weight, and cut their cardio back, they actually started to lose weight again because it gave their body time to catch up. Their metabolism sped up again back to normal levels once we reintroduced more food into their system. If you’ve been dieting and doing a lot of cardio try doing 1 week of maintenance to reset your metabolism and rev up your system again.
Tight On Time
HIIT is the best form of cardio, if you are in fact tight on time. Not everyone can be in the gym an hour every day. If that is the case, I do recommend adding 2-3 days of HIIT training a week. Please be wary of how your joints, and recovery feel though.
What I’d recommend supplementing it with is increasing your daily activity (aka NEAT). If you are on a time crunch, what you can still do is find ways to add movement sprinkled in your day in areas you may not have thought. Park a little farther than usual, take the stairs when you can, take the dog on a longer walk. Find current tasks you are already doing in your life and see if there is a way you can enhance it by adding extra movement. This is a less invasive way to both keep doing your HIIT, but getting extra calorie burn without putting too much stress on your body. Losing weight is ultimately about being in a caloric deficit and being able to sustain those habits. Finding these opportunities throughout your day gives you that caloric boost you need.