Posted: August 21, 2012 in General Health

There is definitely a time and a place for cardio, especially when trying to obtain the greek god like body. While I have expressed my personal vendetta against distance running, I do try to incorporate some type of cardio into my workouts when I am not in a strength phase. The method I use is called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short. This method has become very popular recently and the research backs it’s hype.


So let me start explaining HIIT by boring you with a quick science lesson that makes me sound smart.




For those of you who don’t have your magnifying glasses handy, the top graph is for light to moderate exercise (steady rate) and the bottom graph is for heavy exercise (HIIT). Steady rate exercise is simply the same movement continuously at the same speed aka jogging. Steady rate is more commonly known as catching your second wind, or the part of the run where your body figures out how to become the most efficient and maintain that level of exercise.

To simplify the graph, focus on the difference in recovery time. In HIIT, steady rate takes a much longer time to occur, or does not happen at all. The constant starting and stopping uses more energy since the stimulus on the body is continuously changing.  Consequently, it takes the body longer to return oxygen consumption to resting levels. The result is a larger EPOC, which is primarily fueled by the breakdown of fat for energy. Also, it can keep your resting metabolic rate raised for up to 48 HOURS after your workout. In layman’s terms, you could be burning calories while reading this article. Burn more fat, for a longer period of time, and burn more calories while you sit around. It’s a win-win-win.

Bonus Note: It is critical to consume a 3:1 carb:protein ratio after this (or any anaerobic) workout. Carbs are not the anti-Christ in this situation, conversely they are fuel on the fat burning fire. Muscle cells are very insulin sensitive after working out. If carbs and protein are provided, the insulin will help synthesize muscle protein and muscle glycogen extremely fast. If the fat cells are in a insulin sensitive state, as they would be while you are laying on the couch, insulin will promote storage of carbs as fat.

The downside of HIIT is it sucks. It is really hard if you are pushing yourself. You are also required to sprint, which most of us don’t do on a regular occasion.

Because sprinting is such an explosive movement (hopefully), you must have a proper warm up or pulling a muscle is likely. I would suggest a few minutes of jogging followed by a dynamic warm up like high knees, butt kicks, hamstring kicks, etc.

There are a few ways you can go about HIIT. If you prefer to run outside, figure out the distance (100 yards) you can SPRINT in a given time (15 seconds). Then, I would suggest starting off with a 4:1 work to rest ratio so if you sprint for 15 seconds, rest for 45 seconds.

Personally, I prefer the treadmill. I can control the variables (speed, incline) more easily and I can’t slack. This involves jumping on the treadmill while its moving so please do not kill yourself while trying this. Using an incline has an exponential effect on the amount of calories you burn so I highly suggest using an incline or hill, if running outside.


My HIIT workout is below:


10 sets

15 seconds on: 45 second rest= 1 set

10 mph on 10% incline


I try to increase by .5 mph or .5% incline each time or as I find it getting easier.


What kind of HIIT are you doing? Please post your workout or any questions in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them. Any feedback is appreciated.

  1. […] today to try it. I had heard a lot about it, but never had the courage to try it out. I am a fan of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and was looking for something new so I figured what the […]

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