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5 Reasons This Quick Workout Will Get You In Better Shape Than Cardio

April 10, 2014

Despite a growing understanding in the fitness world that working out longer won't necessarily get you better results, many people still diligently put in an hour or more on the treadmill or elliptical machine three or more times a week, thinking it's the only way to burn calories and lose fat.

But not only does regular, steady-state cardio take way longer to actually do, it's also way less efficient overall than high intensity interval training (HIIT). In fact, if you gave up all regular cardio and replaced it with HIIT-style training, you'd not only have way more time in your day to do the things you really want to be doing, you'll also be in better shape because of it.

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Here are 5 reasons to ditch your regular cardio for HIIT today:

1. It’s more efficient.

I've mentioned this before, but it's worth pointing out again: HIIT is way more efficient than traditional steady-state cardio. That means you'll get way more done in a short amount of time (think 10 to 20 minutes versus 45 to 60).

With HIIT, you'll basically be condensing your entire workout in a few short, intense intervals—meaning you'll still have to work really hard, you just won't have to spend as long doing it.

2. It’s way less boring.

No more zoning out on the treadmill: since HIIT workouts constantly keep your body working through all those burpees, tuck jumps and jump lunges, you'll never have a chance to get bored.

Here's a tip: if you can read a magazine during your workout, you're definitely not working hard enough.

3. You can do it anywhere.

Since most HIIT-style workouts lend themselves perfectly for bodyweight training (think push-ups, jump roping and air squats), you can do them anywhere, rain or shine, in your tiny hotel room or at a nearby park.

That means you have no excuses not to work even if you don’t have access to a gym (unlike, say, elliptical training or using the recumbent bike).

4. You’ll get in better shape in less time.

Not only will you be spending less overall time working out, you’ll see results faster than with traditional cardio. A lot of people notice changes within just weeks of HIIT training, compared to a month or more for endurance training.

HIIT also helps you burn more calories than traditional cardio: new studies show that tabata and HIIT-style workouts can burn anywhere from 15 to 20 calories a minute, compared to less than 10 when doing average paced cardio.

5. It’ll get you strong.

Although regular cardio activities like running on a treadmill or hitting the elliptical machine will certainly help you burn fat and calories, neither does much in terms of muscle building—you have to have a whole other resistance building workout for that.

HIIT training, on the other hand, allows you to combine it all in just one short, efficient workout. Mix high knees and burpees in with strength building exercises like push-ups and lunges and you’ll not only be dripping sweat and gasping for air by the end of your workout, you’ll also be getting stronger as well.

Train hard!

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Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT
Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT
Certified Personal Trainer

Krista Stryker, NSCA-CPT is the author of The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Bodyweight and a leading expert on high intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight fitness. She currently lives in Venice, California, and is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

From trying her first push up in college, to teaching herself to do pull ups and handstands, Krista is living proof of her philosophy that everybody is an athlete. She has helped tens of thousands of people to unlock their full athletic potential through her 12 Minute Athlete HIIT Workouts app and 12 Minute Athlete blog. You can find her @12minuteathlete on all social platforms.