There is absolutely no denying the fact that cardio workouts benefit the body in terms of overall fitness and cardiovascular health. By changing a traditional Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio session into a HIIT workout, you maximize the benefits and minimize the time commitment. In other words, you can spend 45 minutes to an hour 5 days a week or work harder for 20 to 30 minutes, 3 days a week for even better results.

HIIT cardio is also a better choice for most people compared to steady state cardio since it burns fat without turning to protein synthesis for energy. 

Make Any Cardio Activity a HIIT Cardio Workout

Variety is the spice of life and so it goes with exercise routines as well. Repeating the same activity over and over leads to boredom and limits the muscle groups that supply the work. By mixing up your cardio activities, you maintain a positive attitude towards your workout and create a better, more evenly toned body.

Remember, the key to HIIT workouts is to alternate high intensity work and moderate intensity recovery over the entire 10 to 20 minute workout. Choosing the ‘right’ intervals is a matter of personal choice based on fitness level – that is why HIIT is great for individuals of all ages and abilities! You do what is comfortable for you just as long as you are hitting close to 90% effort during the intense sections of the intervals and dropping down to no more than 60% effort during the recovery phases.

Sample Cardio Workouts

There is no set routine for any HIIT workout – it can be whatever you choose. Try a few options, see what works best for you and fill out a plan of action from there. It can simply be cardio or include aspect of cross-training, endurance or weight lifting. For any HIIT cardio workout, you need to begin with a simple 5 minute warm up to get your body ready for the hard stuff.

Bicycling

Adjust the seat so that your legs are not quite completely extended. Hold the handle bar gently but securely and crouch slightly forward. Don’t strain against the handlebar – you are simply using it for balance.

Cardio Kickboxing

Starting with some stretches and a brief cardio warm up, cardio kickboxing takes a number of forms that incorporate resistance training and circuit training using heavy bags, training pads or martial arts movements. A full body workout can be achieved at a gym or at home.

Cardio-Kickboxing

Jumping Rope

If you’re sure you won’t tie yourself up in the rope, jumping rope (with the single foot method as if you are running in place) is an easy way to reach maximum intensity. After 60 seconds of high intensity, slow down for the next 60 seconds and work through 10 or 12 sets for a total of 20 to 25 minutes. Keeping your elbows in and forearms parallel to the floor, turn the rope with your wrists and forearms. Since this is pretty tough on knees and ankles, jump rope on a rubber gym floor or some other padded surface. To determine the right length of rope, stand on the rope and hold the handles up roughly to your armpits.

Roller Blading

Smoother and easier on the joints than running, inline skating provides a complete aerobic and anaerobic workout that improves overall endurance, cardiovascular function, flexibility and strength. Greater use of inner thigh and buttock muscles than required for most other activities helps those 2 problem areas.\

Spinning

Spinning or working out on a stationary bike allows you to set the speed and resistance. When you begin to go too fast on a bike, you risk losing control so increasing resistance as you become accustomed to the workout helps you maintain the intensity.

Sprinting

If you have access to a track or a safe stretch of road, sprinting is a terrific way to build up cardio out in the fresh air. Finding a hill to run up then walk down is the perfect way to increase intensity. With the intensity of the HIIT workout, though, sprinting is hard on the knees and other leg joints.

Sprinting

Swimming

Follow the same procedure as for the other cardio workouts by warming up then alternating intense swimming for 60 seconds with treading water for 60 seconds. This is an excellent exercise to target the whole body – arms, legs and core – with reaching and stretching for each stroke.

Treadmill

When a track or open road is not available, a treadmill can provide the same sprinting options. After 5 minutes warming up, set the speed to an all-out run for 60 seconds then bring it down to a jog for the next 60 seconds. Be careful of the possibility of falling off, though! 8 to 10 sets should have the heart pumping and the sweat pouring off, but don’t forget to cool down.