Whether you are cutting or bulking, implementing cardio into your routine can be beneficial. We all know that the amount of weight we gain or lose is dependent on energy balance, so adding cardio into the mix allows ourselves to eat a bit more. This can definitely come in handy in the final weeks of our cutting stages where we may not be eating nearly as much.
The problem is a lot of cardio methods are simply boring. What can be fun about walking on a treadmill like a hamster for an hour? Nothing! That is why replacing that with doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) can come in handy. Now, you may be wondering what HIIT is, or how you do this sort of cardio.
The name itself is pretty self explanatory – high intensity. You will be doing high intensity cardio – but for how long? Well, what is recommended is that you go in short bursts of 15 seconds each time.After completing each 15 second interval, you will walk for 45 seconds to give yourself time to recover.
A lot of people wonder why you would only sprint for 15 seconds; after all, wouldn’t you be able to burn more calories by sprinting for a minute or even more than that? The answer to that is pretty easy – of course you would! However, if you’re really going “balls to the wall” with your sprints, then there really is no way you would be able to go that long. Be my guest and give it a shot if you want, but 15 seconds of sprinting as fast as you can will be enough to wear you out!
What are the benefits to high intensity interval training though? Why would one wish to do this rather than walking, running, using the elliptical machine, etc.? Well, put simply, it all comes down to personal preference. One reason why this choice would be better is that you will be able to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.
Secondly, it won’t be nearly as boring. When walking on a treadmill, you usually are just staring at a wall or perhaps watching television. This hour will go by as slowly as it sounds! It’s nearly impossible to get bored with HIIT since you won’t really have time to think about how long it’s taking. The first two 45 second breaks may seem a bit long but once you start fatiguing, then it seems like those 45 seconds of walking really begin to shorten!
Finally, doing HIIT can also help build your leg muscles up! Obviously, if you are in a caloric deficit, then you won’t really see these benefits since it’s nearly impossible to put on muscle mass while you are cutting; however, you could definitely see some benefits if you were in a caloric surplus. Of course, you would not just replace your leg day by doing HIIT since squats are the king of all leg exercises, but you would still see some leg growth if you did decide to do so.
The amount of time that you spend doing HIIT each session and how many times a week will really vary. I would not recommend doing them anymore than three times per week since you have to factor in recovery. By doing high intensity cardio excessively, you will risk performance in the gym to go down. As far as the amount of time each session that you spend doing them, it will all vary on how well you are conditioned.
As you can see, you will slowly be ramping up the amount of time that you will be performing this type of cardio each week. Eight minutes does not seem like much to start out with, but it can be quite tiring for those who are not very well conditioned. Some may be completely exhausted after only six minutes!
You may find that you enjoy this method of cardio more than the others, and you may find that you don’t enjoy it as much. It all comes down to personal preference, and it really doesn’t matter which way that you choose to burn the extra calories with. Weight gain or weight loss all has to do with energy balance at the end of the day.