With my 6-week postpartum checkup long gone, I've started exercising again! What I'm about to say next will probably make you want to punch me in the face, but I LOVE to exercise and couldn't wait to get back into the gym (a.k.a. my basement) to get this jelly-like body back into shape. One of my regular cardio choices includes a 30-minute, uphill, brisk walk on the treadmill. While there's nothing wrong with walking or running on the treadmill at a steady pace, there's a more effective way to burn calories that I've know about all along but never incorporated into my treadmill routine...
How To Burn More Calories In Less Time
As much as I love taking my brisk, steady, uphill strolls on the treadmill, having two young kids means I have less time to do everything I want to. How can I burn more calories in the same amount of time? By incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into my treadmill routine. I’ve blogged about the benefits of HIIT before on B&P and while I love doing bodyweight/strength training HIIT workouts that I find on YouTube, it never occurred to me to apply HIIT to my treadmill routine.
HIIT incorporates alternating periods of maximum effort (which I refer to as “cardio bursts“) followed by active rest periods (e.g. moving at a much slower pace to recover). Not only does HIIT burn more calories than steady state cardio, but it also has “after burn” effects that continue long after you’ve finished your workout. Studies have shown that HIIT workouts increase your resting metabolic rate up to 24 hours after exercise, which leads to more calories burned in the long run. Other benefits include:
*Improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles (great for PCOS sufferers like me).
*Significant spikes in growth hormone levels (which aid in fat loss).
*Post-exercise appetite suppression.
HIIT is great for people who are short on time and/or hate cardio, because you can burn more calories during an intense 20 minute HIIT session than you would running on a treadmill for 1 hour. In addition, HIIT encourages fat loss while preserving muscle, as opposed to long, steady state cardio sessions that can begin to use muscle as fuel.
Creating A HIIT Cardio Session
Whether you’re using a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, or just running outside, you can make any cardio session into a HIIT session. First of all, you will need to get an interval timer. There are many interval timers on the market that you can buy and carry with you, but I simply downloaded an app called “Tabata Timer” on my cell phone that was free.
Using my interval timer, I created a HIIT workout that consisted of a warm up period, an alternating series of cardio bursts followed by rest periods, and then a final cool down period. My original HIIT workout started out with alternating 1 minute cardio bursts (e.g. full out running on the treadmill) followed by 3 minute rest periods (brisk walking on the treadmill). As I got better at my workouts, I decreased my rest period from 3 minutes to 1 minute, so that my current 30 minute HIIT treadmill workout looks like this:
*4 minute warm up period
*1 minute cardio burst, followed by 1 minute rest period – repeat 12 times for 23 minutes (no rest period after the last cardio burst)
*3 minute cool down period
What’s The Key To A Great HIIT Cardio Session?
To get the maximum benefits of a HIIT workout, you have to really push yourself during your cardio bursts so that you get close to your maximum heart rate (e.g. the point where your heart feels like it will explode, but not quite). If you’re pushing yourself hard enough, you should be looking forward to your rest periods.Be sure to take full advantage of them so that you can go all out during your cardio bursts.
When you’re first starting out, make sure your rest periods are longer than your activity periods and then gradually reduce your rest periods to keep your body challenged and maximize your calorie burn.
Want an extra challenge? Add an incline every so often!
Enjoy your workout!
*Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only. Please contact your physician before starting any new exercise plan.