I love running for my cardio when I can but I realize it’s not everyone’s favorite. But guess what? It can be! One way to love running is by doing cardio intervals on the treadmill! This is a form of high-intensity interval training often referred to as HIIT. By doing running intervals, you can break up the boredom of running at the same pace the whole time and instead varying your speed and tempo. But that is not the only benefit of incorporating intervals into your workout routine. It can also be a great way to burn extra fat especially if your weight loss has stalled.
Now that I have piqued your interest in just a couple of the benefits of interval running, let's break them all down to get the full picture of why you will want to incorporate this style of training into your workout program.
Benefits of performing high-intensity interval cardio:
Helps you to lose weight faster than steady-state cardio. High-intensity interval workouts have been the craze for many years now, as they yield the best results with burning fat overall and specifically belly fat. The goal is to burn the most amount of fat in a short amount of time. I will dive deeper into this in the next section.
It can help you bust through a weight loss plateau. HIIT can be a great plateau buster because when you perform the same cardio routine each week, your body can get too comfortable burning the same amount of calories each day. When you switch up your runs by increasing your speed, the incline, or distance weekly, you can push your body out of its comfort zone and start burning fat again. I recommend switching your cardio routine often to prevent this. If you have a personal trainer, they can do this for you in a methodical way that will maximize your results.
It can help improve your cardiorespiratory fitness which refers to the efficiency with which the heart and lungs work together to supply oxygen and energy to the body during a workout. When your cardiovascular efficiency improves and you are at rest, your heart and lungs work more efficiently which helps you to perform physical activities easier, leaving you less tired and helps you to live a healthier, longer life.
You can workout anytime, anywhere since intervals don't require any special equipment. While a treadmill can make your life easier by being able to adjust your speed and incline with the touch of a button, you can just as easily use your smartwatch timer to perform intervals.
Helps to reduce your stress levels which can reduce belly fat. High-intensity interval training running can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol. As you may know, cortisol increases your appetite and cravings and is also responsible for breaking down muscle tissue.
It can help you by building both aerobic (endurance) and anaerobic (power) capacity which will help improve your run running performance during races.
It can give your metabolism a boost by stimulating the production of human growth hormone (HGH). Studies have shown that doing HIIT can stimulate HGH by up to 450% for about 24 hours after you have finished your workout. HGH is a complex set of hormones that can help to speed up healing after an injury and repair muscle tissue after a workout and can also increase your caloric burn. It's also known to help you look younger as it plays a vital role in cell regeneration and growth.
You can increase your training intensity without overtraining. “Overtraining” is when you’re not properly programming your workouts. For example, taking an hour-long spin class on Monday, then doing a tough leg workout on Tuesday, then going on a long run Wednesday, followed by another Spin class on Thursday. You want each muscle group to have time to rest between sweat sessions. If you push too hard in your workouts, for too long, you might find that you have overtrained. It's important to avoid overtraining because it can cause the following symptoms: decreased performance, not able to move as fast or able to move your body for the same length of time as it usually moves, body fatigue, or chronic soreness that doesn’t seem to recover. Stress hormones will increase, causing moodiness and cortisol levels to rise. This can prevent you from being able to perform well during other workouts in your weekly routine and set you up for potential injuries if you try to push through them. Remember that it's possible to overtrain with HIIT workouts as well which is why they are just a complementary part of your routine and not something you incorporate daily.
High-intensity interval training for weight loss
As I stated above, another reason to love interval running is it can help you to lose weight. I touched briefly on the benefits that HGH can have on increasing your caloric burn after an intense workout but that is not the only way that HIIT can help you achieve weight loss.
A lot of my readers have reported that they struggle with losing stubborn belly fat. The area around our midsection, unfortunately, is the last area of our bodies to lose fat. Hormones, stress, diet, and metabolism all play a role in how fast or slow we lose weight, especially in the "love handles" area.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has the best research behind it with its ability to burn higher rates of fat overall in a short amount of time by doing bursts of high-intensity activities followed by a short recovery period. While in general, you can't spot-reduce fat in specific areas of your body, studies have shown that high-intensity interval training could help to reduce belly fat in women.
Research in one study found that in a 12-week study group made up of women, half who performed a training regimen of HIIT routines and the half that performed moderate-intensity cardio, the women who performed HIIT, lost more belly fat.
After you exercise using HIIT, your body goes into a state of increased metabolic output. This is called the "afterburn." Simply put, this means that your body will continue to burn extra calories long after you have put down your last set and left the gym. On the other hand, if you stuck with a long session of steady cardio, your calorie-burning would stop quickly after you hopped off that treadmill. I don't know about you, but I like the concept of burning more calories after I'm done exercising. Talk about a bonus! Say goodbye to steady-state cardio and embrace a whole new fitness philosophy centered around HIIT and watch how quickly your body begins to transform!
How interval running can improve your race performance
Once you start incorporating the treadmill interval workout I give you below, you might just decide you like running more than you thought and want to start running races. Many people start with a 5k race, then get addicted and move onto longer races. If the desire is to be a better runner then interval running might be crucial to your race training. Of course, you will also want to also do longer steady-tempo runs when race training, so intervals would be a training add-on rather than a daily practice.
When you run intervals, it helps to build both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity which will help to improve your endurance and speed in races.
According to Runners Connect "When running anaerobically, the muscles begin to break down sugar, but instead of producing just CO2 and water, they also produce excessive amounts of lactate. Unfortunately, lactate is more difficult to reconvert back into energy and has a downside compared to exhaling out water and CO2. In the absence of oxygen, your body can’t clean up the extra hydrogen ion created by lactate and this is what causes that burning feeling in your muscles."
So when running races you don't want to run anaerobically too early because you will grow tired and fatigued.
But when you perform high-intensity running intervals that produce lactic acid, the body can adapt better by burning lactic acid more efficiently. By improving your ability to burn lactic acid, you can run for longer periods of time at a higher intensity before you start feeling pain and fatigue that can slow you down. This will be very beneficial when you are running a long race.
Try the workout below next time you HIIT the gym. Time will fly by and before you know it, your workout for the day is done! Try adding this fat-burning workout into your routine this week.⠀⠀⠀⠀
25 Minute Treadmill Interval Workout for Beginners
(for an advanced workout bump up the speed by 1-2 levels)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- 5 minutes at 3.6 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 2 minutes at 3.6 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 1.5 minutes at 4.5 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 1 minute at 3.6 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 2 minutes at 4.5 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 1 minute at 5.5 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 1 minute at 4.5 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 2 minutes at 4.7 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 1.5 minutes at 5.6 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 1 minute at 5.0 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 2 minutes at 4.7 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Run 1 minute at 4.0 speed⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- 3.5 speed at 5 minutes⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Plank 2 sets of 30 seconds⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- Stretch for 10 minutes⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Now that you have your workout, don't forget about your pre and post-workout nutrition to maximize the benefits of your workout.
The best pre-workout nutrition
What you eat before your workout is very important because your body will use that food as fuel to give you energy to workout and it will also help you to perform better. If you workout without anything in your stomach, you're going to be operating with low glucose levels in your blood, which can cause you to pass out or vomit. Think of your body as a car, it needs gasoline to run. I recommend eating a homemade granola bar or something containing complex carbohydrates such as a piece of sprouted grain toast and peanut butter 30 minutes to an hour before a workout.
The best post-workout nutrition
Don’t skip your post-workout meal! This is just as important as your pre-workout meal. When you fuel your body post-workout, you are helping to decrease muscle breakdown and increase muscle growth. This meal should be high in protein and include complex carbs such as almonds and fruits, or a protein bar to refuel and restore your body.
Still not sold on interval running for cardio? Check out this blog post: At-Home Cardio: Jumping Rope.⠀Where you can learn all about jumping rope and how you can use it to burn just as many calories as running.
High-intensity workouts are not all just cardio-based, you can also do a HIIT workout made up of intervals of boxing, squat jumps, side lunges, kettlebell swings, butt kick, jumping rope, burpees, plus many more explosive beneficial exercises for a full-body workout. There are so many variations of these high-intensity workouts that you can do to get you great results to help you reach your goals. As a bonus, since they are shorter, more intense workouts, they can make the perfect lunch-time workout to squeeze into your busy workday or when your kiddos are down for a nap. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Remember if you want a fit body and weight loss is your goal, then exercise MUST be a consistent part of your life. You can’t exercise hard this week and then take the next two weeks off and expect to see results. Results come from consistency. So whatever high-intensity cardio routine you choose to add into your fitness routine along with weight training, do something that makes you happy enough to stick with.
Want more awesome workouts? My H Method classes are a mix of kickboxing, pilates, and HIIT training. The focus of my classes is to tone and define your trouble areas while performing high-intensity interval training that can be easily modified to your fitness level. Come join us in the online studio for a semi-private group workout! Or if you need personal 1-on-1 support from me or my team of trainers with help creating a personalized workout plan, then send me a message and we will make it happen. We are here for you!