Most of us have heard of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for a serious cardio workout in 30 minutes or less but lately I’ve been using some of the HIIT principals in my strength-training workouts.
I used to spend hours in the gym, casually going from station to station and resting in between exercises. In fact, most people I see at the gym do this when they work out. Which is great if you want to spend 90 minutes with sweaty gym rats but not so great if you want to have a life outside of working out!
After trying some super high-intensity workouts earlier last year, I was really impressed with the results I was getting in a relatively short period of time. After just 20 minutes of this style of training, sweat was pouring, muscles were burning, and my calorie burn was off the charts. And the best part? My whole workout was over in 30 minutes or less.
By keeping my heart-rate up in between strength-training exercises (i.e. 60 seconds of butt-kicks in between bicep curls or 30 seconds of mountain climbers in between shoulder presses), I get a higher calorie burn in a shorter period of time. It’s quite simple — while everyone else is sipping on water bottles, I’m doing back-to-back exercises. While they’re “recovering” with eyes glued to the gym TV, I’m doing bursts of cardio.
When I added kettlebell to this style of high-intensity workout, the two together radically transformed my body by building a tremendous amount of lean muscle mass (without bulk) and a major fat burn! If I had just started with these two training elements way back in 2006, I’m positive that I would have reached my weight loss goals much faster.
To get an even better calorie burn during your next strength workout, all you need to do is:
- Come ready with your workout planned and written down.
- Pay attention to the clock — don’t rest for more than 30 seconds while transitioning between exercises.
- After every other exercise in your set, throw in a 60-second period of burpees, butt-kicks, high knees, jump rope, sprinting, or any other cardio exercise.
- Once you’ve completed an entire set (that should be about 5-8 exercises), rest 3 minutes before repeating the whole thing for a second time.
I do feel the need to caution you that doing some styles of workouts as back-to-back exercises can be dangerous — but that’s why I love the idea of adding bursts of cardio. If you choose your cardio bursts wisely (i.e. don’t do full push-up burpees if you’ve just done a chest exercise), then the muscle group you just worked out is getting a bit of rest and recovery while you do the cardio interval. It keeps your heart rate up but lessens the fatigue on your worked muscle.
Other people in the gym will probably look at you like you’ve lost your mind — but it’s most likely because they’re jealous that you’re walking out the door while they’re still warming up.