That dreaded word.
I used to be one of those people who did 30 minutes on the treadmill, the same on the bike, and finish off on the cross trainer. The true definition of a cardio bunny. That was until I saw the light that is the weights room…
I now find cardio ridiculously boring compared to weight and resistance training, but I also acknowledge the importance of cardiovascular exercise for a) all round good health and b) to burn fat.
But what’s more boring than running on a treadmill?! I need to make sure my cardio is interesting and done as quickly as possible so I can get my ass into the weights room.
I’ve found that HIIT is the type of cardio that I don’t mind doing (well…) and it’s actually been found to burn more fat after finishing than steady state cardio (link).
Okay, so what’s HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training is short bursts of exercises followed by a period of rest. The idea is to work at your maximum; HIIT is hard work, but in 10-15, even 20, minutes you’ve completed your cardio – and that’s a winner in my eyes!
What do I do?
I do different types of HIIT to mix it up a bit.
Treadmill incline sprints
I have a love hate relationship with these. I sprint at an incline of 6.5 for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds, for 10 rounds. I’m a sweaty mess by the end of it but it’s definitely worth it!
I’ve recently incorporated these into my cardio and I really like them. I do 30 seconds of sprinting as fast as possible and 30 seconds slow/rest. I did this after leg day the other day and it finished me off.
HIIT circuits allow you to incorporate weights into your cardio, which is all kinds of fun. I pick 4-5 exercises and do them for 12-15 minutes. Do all exercises with no rest in between, and once you’ve finished the circuit rest for one minute.
An example of a circuit I do looks a little like this:
Mountain climbers 30s
Press ups x10
Russian twists 30s
Squat and press x10x6kg med ball
Bicycle crunches 30s
Of course, there are some days where I want to get some cardio in but I don’t feel up to pushing myself doing HIIT (and that’s okay!) so that’s where LISS comes in.
Absolutely love acronyms don’t I. LISS is low intensity steady state cardio, such as a brisk walk or cycling at an even pace. It’s more relaxed and performed for longer than HIIT, but it’s a good way to fit in some cardio if you don’t feel like fully exerting yourself.
What do I do?
I only do LISS on occasion, and when I do I’ll whack the treadmill up to around an incline of 12 and the speed up to about 6.5, which for me is walking at a good pace. I do this for 15-20 minutes but I’m going to start doing more cardio so I’ll whack that up to half an hour.
Of course, the amount or type of cardio you do is completely different from person to person, but I’ve found HIIT especially to be effective and enjoyable (to an extent!)