The Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

If you’ve ever belonged to a gym, you’ve no doubt noticed the cardio crowd—that group of people appearing on the same treadmill, elliptical or stationary bikes day after day, week after week.

These people (sadly, this crowd consists mainly of women) diligently spend 30 to 60 minutes three to five days a week on these machines, usually going at a steady pace, often reading a magazine, and never, ever leaving their sacred cardio area.

And yet, despite their dedication, this cardio crowd always seems to look the same.

While the weightlifters sculpt their bodies and gain strength and endurance in the process, the cardio crowd’s bodies have gotten used to their daily routine… and as a result are not changing at all.

Maybe it’s been months since they’ve seen a shift in their body mass or upped the speed on their machine.

But one thing’s for certain: 99% of this cardio crowd is experiencing a state of constant plateau.

Sure, there are some good reasons to do long, steady cardio. For one, it’s good for your heart.

And if you’re training for a marathon, a full triathlon, or any other type of race that requires a steady, sustained pace for a long period of time, you’ll obviously need to condition for the event by doing long bouts of cardio.

But for the average person, low intensity cardio training just won’t get you to where you want to be.

The better cardio solution: high intensity interval training (or, HIIT).

So what is it?

Interval training is any sort of aerobic activity that alternates periods of high and low intensity training. It can be used with any sort of exercise—running, biking, jump roping, rowing, resistance exercise, etc.

It means you’ll work as hard as you can for a very short amount of time… rather than working at half speed for a long period of time.

Interval training has tons of benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Higher calorie burn in less time
  • Overall improved athletic performance
  • Helps prevent or overcome plateaus
  • Allows for greater VO2 (oxygen) intake
  • Prevents injuries associated with repetitive endurance training including minimizing the risk of overtraining
  • It’s great for your heart
  • Allows you to accomplish a greater amount of work in a shorter amount of time (so you can get in shape quicker)

In short, it’s a better, more efficient way to go about doing cardio.

But in order for it to be effective, you have to work harder than you ever thought possible.

HIIT rocks my world. And if you do the workouts I put together for you on the 12 Minute Athlete, it will rock your world too.

Happy training.

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