Focus: HIIT Training
High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is an awesome way to get your heart rate up, build cardiovascular endurance, stay lean or get leaner, build functionality, and maintain body strength. I do ten minutes of HIIT every day before my lift because I want to stay lean. But doesn’t that mess with your gainz? Yes and no. The more cardio you do, you do lose your mass or rather you do not look as “big” as you would if you stuck to only lifting (which is why MANY bodybuilders and lifters hate cardio). However, when you do cardio, you build your body functionality, endurance, and mobility. Sometimes the simple pushups, burpees, jumping jacks, and planks, help your muscles look more shredded and furthermore, let your muscles move in different ways than just the lifts you do in which your muscles have already developed muscle memory for.
I believe in both cardio and lifting. I do not do as much cardio as I used to because I wanted to build bigger muscles (especially le butt) and look swoler, however I still do cardio to help keep my metabolism up and keep definition in my muscles. Let me be clear, you are burning calories and developing your metabolism when you are lifting, but cardio allows your heart rate to increase which is important for being healthy. Cardio has muscles constantly moving which is why it leans you out. I just didn’t want to be this jacked girl who died after a hike or running a few miles or wheezed after a flight of stairs (which I am not gonna lie, I think I will always wheeze when it comes to stairs). For this post, I am going to focus on HIIT as a form of cardio, and trust me there are thousands of ways to get your cardio in.
HIIT is only efficient and timely because you are going basically as fast as you can for short bursts of speed with minimum rest. I used to teach 50 minute HIIT classes and boy was I lean. I think an ideal cardio HIIT session is 15-20 minutes, any longer and I think it has diminishing returns. You can do a HIIT set with anything really—body exercises, running, biking, even some lifts. My go to set is 30 seconds of four different exercises back to back with no rest in between, one minute rest after I finish all four exercises, and then repeat it four times through. I match the exercises to the lift that I am about to do, so if I am benching that day, I will do pushups, planks, burpees, and other exercises that will warm up my upper body. Sometimes I don’t do intervals but rather just a lot of repetitions of different exercises with minimal rest. On the treadmill, sometimes I will alternate my speeds between sprinting, jogging, and fast on the same incline for a couple of minutes. If I want to warm my legs up, I keep the same speed but alternate the incline of the treadmill. I am trying to lean my arms out, so I will do I bicep exercise with low weight but just curl for 20-30 seconds with ten seconds rest in between each round and repeat 8-10 times. Like I said, you can do it with anything, but the key is to keep yourself moving at a fast pace with minimal rest in small time increments.
It is IMPERATIVE that you have stretch and warm up properly before you start and eat very little beforehand. Don’t just walk into the gym, get on the treadmill and start running at 100 miles per hour–that is great way to blow out your knee while throwing up. Also, while HIIT is great for losing weight, it will also make you VERY hungry by the end of it. So, make sure you do a HIIT set for a time period that will work up a good sweat, but will not drain you to the point where you are so hungry afterwards that you eat anything and everything in your path. Complex carbs are your friends, do not neglect them, because they are important for muscle recovery and energy sustainability. You can eat more of your carbs for the day after the HIIT workout so you don’t get famished or feel unsatisfied, and then eat less cabs in the rest of your meals for the day. I would recommend doing these sets in the morning for a few reasons. One, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you can afford to eat the most at breakfast time. So, after a HIIT set, you can eat more and still have the food be converted into energy. At night time, food generally just turns into sugar because you are not active. Second, the cardio session releases a lot of endorphins so you have a lot of energy and your mood is improved which would serve you much better before work rather than before bed. Three, you are limber and relaxed in the morning which means your muscles will be better activated rather than at night, in which a stretch/yoga session would be more beneficial for your body and that night’s sleep. I have attached a mini HIIT workout in the feature image so try it out! See how you like and feel free to comment your thoughts!