Not all cardio is created equal, which is why it’s important to choose a form of cardio that meets your goals. Studies have compared groups doing slow cardio for 30-45 minutes and groups doing high intensity interval training.
The groups have had similar weight loss, but the high intensity interval training group (HIIT) in most cases have shown a significant higher loss of bodyfat.The HIIT group also typically have gains in muscle mass while the slow and steady group loose muscle mass.
You have probably seen the difference between a sprinter and a long distance runner, there are usually a big difference in muscle mass and physique. Too much long distance and aerobic activities can actually lead to decreased testosterone levels, increase your cortisone production and handicap your strength gains. This doesn’t mean that you never should do cardio training, but you should do cardio that supports your ultimate training goals.
Other studies have shown that high intensity interval training will improve your aerobic system (cardiovascular) and your anaerobic system (muscle) more than slower and more steady cardio workouts. Performing high intensity interval training will give you another benefit as well, the afterburn effect. This means that you will burn calories for hours after your initial workout.
If you are looking for short and effective training routines you can do at home or anywhere else you would like, HIIT may be something to consider. If you are new to this way of training, be sure to get enough recovery between sessions. I recommend at least 48 hours of rest between your workouts.
There are a lot of different ways to perform HIIT, with external weights or just your bodyweight. In this article I am going to focus on different high intensity interval workouts with your bodyweight only. This means that you can do them anywhere with minimal equipment.
Tabata – Short and Effective Workouts
Tabata training is a high intensity interval training workout, featuring exercises that last four minutes. This training style was developed by Japanese professor Dr. Izumi Tabata to train Olympic speed skaters. Different forms of Tabata are practiced everywhere in the world with a lot of different exercises. Because it is more of a system or way to set up your intervals, you can pretty much use every exercise you would like. You will get the best effect using basic exercises that activates big muscle groups.
A tabata workout consists of eight rounds where you push yourself to the limit. Technically, all eight rounds should be performed with the same exercise. The reason behind this is to go all out on a muscle group. You will of course get a good workout if you alternate with different exercises, but that is not the tabata system.
The system is easy to remember; 20 seconds of hard work – then 10 seconds rest. You repeat this cycle eight times for a total of four minutes. It sounds short, but be prepared to work hard! If you’re not exhausted after a tabata workout you need to step it up.
Tabata Workout routines
You can use a lot of different exercises in the tabata system, preferably basics that activate big muscle groups. I am going to give an example of a tabata workout routine with five different exercises, that means five eight-round cycles.
1. Jumping Jacks – 8 rounds (20 seconds work – 10 seconds off)
2. Burpees – 8 rounds (20 seconds work – 10 seconds off)
3. Squats – 8 rounds (20 seconds work – 10 seconds off)
4. Pushups – 8 rounds (20 seconds work – 10 seconds off)
5. The Plank – 8 rounds (20 seconds work – 10 seconds off)
This workout routine lasts only for a total of 20 minutes without warm up, but if you are doing it the right way this should tear you up! Remember to get at least 48 hours of recovery after a routine like this.
You can do this in a lot of different ways and with other exercises. Even one four minute cycle with a single exercise will give you results. You can also use the tabata system for sprints and other cardio exercises.
Bodyweight circuit training
Another way to perform a high intensity interval training are by doing a bodyweight circuit training. You can use the tabata system intervals or something similar, the difference is that you alternate between different exercises. As an example I am going to use the same exercises as before.
1. Jumping Jacks – 1 round (40 seconds work – 10 seconds off before you move on to the next exercise)
2. Burpees – 1 round (40 seconds work – 10 seconds off before you move on to the next exercise)
3. Squats – 1 round (40 seconds work – 10 seconds off before you move on to the next exercise)
4. Pushups – 1 round (40 seconds work – 10 seconds off before you move on to the next exercise)
5. The Plank – 1 round (40 seconds work – 10 seconds off before you move on to the next exercise)
Repeat this circuit for a total of 3-5 rounds. This will also give you a great workout, and you can use a variety of different exercises.
Freeletics is an app with a lot of different bodyweight strength routines and exercises that utilize HIIT. There is a lot of different programs, but most of them will give you a great and intense interval training.
In most of the routines you are performing multiple exercises with a set number of reps, but the goal is to do one round as fast as possible. After one round you rest for 60 seconds before you move on to the next. Here is an example of how that would look like:
1. Burpees – 25 reps
2. Squats – 30 reps
3. Pushups – 25 reps
After one round you rest for 60 seconds before you move on to the next. Repeat this for a total of 5 rounds. The freeletics app will give you a number of exercises and routines for free. If you would like to check out my Freeletics Review, you can find it HERE.
There are a lot of great high intensity interval training out there. If you are looking for a highly effective workout that you can do anywhere and anytime, HIIT can be your answer. It will get you in better shape, build muscle and lower your bodyfat levels.
All the best,