Getty ImagesAlexander Tamargo
Getting a good cardio workout doesn’t have to mean slogging for hours around a track or on a machine — thankfully, there are tons of quicker, more exciting workouts you can try to ramp up your heart rate.
If you’re short on time, you can use intervals to make the most out of a single session. You’ve probably heard group fitness instructors talk about one of the most popular protocols, high intensity interval training (HIIT), which uses bursts of intense activity interspersed by active rest periods to jumpstart a killer calorie burn. Trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S., pushes clients to their limits using the training method on a stationary bike as a SoulCycle Master Instructor.
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“HIIT workouts are a great way to maximize time in the gym,” Atkins says. “Beyond that, it’s a great anaerobic exercise that can improve your cardiovascular fitness or burn off some fat.”
Tabata training takes HIIT principles to the extreme. The 4-minute, 8 round workouts are defined by 20-second bouts of all-out activity, followed immediately by 10-second recovery periods. You can apply the protocol to just about exercise you can imagine to add a cardio element to your workouts — but if you really want to tap into its fat-burning potential, Atkins recommends giving the stationary bike a shot.
“You can control the resistance on an indoor cycling bike, which means you can make it has hard or easy as you want,” says Atkins. “It’s easy on the joints and maximizes the lower body while also requiring some core work.”
To perform the workout, you’ll need a spin bike or Assault bike and a timer to keep track of your active and rest periods. Set the clock, mount the bike, and get ready to push the pace.
- Add a hefty about of resistance on the bike. You should feel like you’re climbing uphill.
- Start pedaling for a 5-second count before the first period to get loose.
- Run into resistance for 20 seconds as fast as you can.
- Recover for 10 seconds, pedaling more slowly.
- Repeat that cycle without stopping to rest 8 times, for 4 minutes of total work
You can use this routine as a quick cardio finisher, or as a full workout when you’re struggling to fit time for fitness into a busy schedule. Just don’t overdo it with the intensity — according to experts, you should use the HIIT protocol sparingly to allow your body to recover. Aim for one session per week.
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