I have good news for you: You don’t have to trudge away on the treadmill for an hour at a time to get a great cardio workout in. In fact, as Thrive trainer Alex Keft points out, doing shorter bursts of high-intensity intervals—where you alternate short bursts of sprinting with easier bouts—could make your cardio workouts more effective and way more efficient. (If a 12-minute cardio workout isn’t efficiency at its finest, tell me, what is?)
Here’s why: “The reason most people do steady-state cardio is because they believe it’s the best way to lose fat,” Keft explains. (For the uninitiated, steady-state cardio means means running or walking or doing another aerobic activity at the same intensity for an extended period of time.)
The thing is, if fat loss is your goal, going all-out for shorter periods of time, while it might seem counterintuitive, can actually be more effective.
With HIIT, Keft says, “your metabolism stays elevated well after your workout, allowing you to continue burning calories.”
But don’t get it twisted: It’s not that steady-state cardio is bad. While Keft notes that it’s not as efficient as HIIT, it’s still great for your cardiovascular health, so those treadmill sessions that double as Netflix marathons certainly have their place. Instead of going all-in on one, Keft suggests finding a balance of the two in your workout regimen.
If you’re not sure where to start with high-intensity intervals on a treadmill, not to fear: Keft has designed two treadmill workouts to get you started, one with the added challenge of incline and one without. Check them out below.
HIIT Treadmill Workout
Hop on a treadmill and set your incline to 0. To warm up, walk slowly for 2 minutes, then walk briskly for 3 minutes. Then follow these steps.
1. Run at an intensity that’s 100 percent of your maximum effort for 30 seconds.
2. Rest, either walking at an easy pace or standing still, for 20 seconds.
That’s 1 round. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for a total of 8 to 10 rounds. (Note: If you’re just getting back into the gym, Keft says that substituting a brisk walk for running is perfectly fine.)
HIIT Treadmill Workout with Incline
Hop on a treadmill. To warm up, walk slowly for 2 minutes, then walk briskly for 3 minutes.
Then set your incline to 10 to 15, and follow these steps.
1. Run at an intensity that’s 70 percent of your maximum effort for 1 minute.
2. Rest, walking at an easy pace, for 30 seconds.
That’s 1 round. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for a total of 8 to 10 rounds.
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