Guest post by Fit & Me
With summer kicking into high gear, there has never been a better time to achieve that killer beach body. For most folks, this means dieting and hitting either the weights or elliptical machines.
But you can achieve a lot more with just 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) than you can by running on the treadmill for a few hours. HIIT burns fat and encourages muscle growth like no other activity out there, and you need little more than your own bodyweight and some space. It should be a staple for anyone who’s looking to build themselves up or tone down.
Here are some killer workouts that can trim your waistline and tighten up your entire body:
1. Muay Thai
You can shed a ton of excess fat just by going to work on a heavy bag for a dozen rounds, but why not do it while getting a great full-body workout and learning how to defend yourself? Muay Thai is known as the art of the eight limbs because its practitioners use their fists, elbows, shins, and knees to pound their opponents into submission.
A typical one-hour session begins with either jogging or three rounds of jump-roping before moving onto bag-hitting or partner-assisted padwork. Roundhouse kicks and other devastating techniques are taught and drilled until they become part of your muscle memory, and light sparring is closely monitored to ensure that you can handle yourself in the ring safely and effectively.
Regardless of whatever your instructors make you do, Muay Thai is so intense that you can expect to lose anywhere from 800-1000 calories per class.
Why head to the gym when you could simply run really fast? Dr. Daniel V. Vigil, Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says that you can burn up to 400 calories by running at a moderate pace for an hour and the same amount if you run faster for half that allotted time.
That’s where sprinting comes in. Either walk or start at a moderate pace, then run as quickly as you can for a short burst before resting or resuming as you would normally. Rinse and repeat for as many sets as you can comfortably perform. As part of their series on HIIT, Men’s Fitness recommends you sprint 73 yards in ten seconds and rest for 30-50 seconds before repeating the set at least 10-20 times.
Remember to stay hydrated and run with proper form to prevent injuries.
3. Row or Bike HIIT-style
If it’s raining cats and dogs outside or you’re one of those folks who can’t run for any reason, then you apply the same principles listed above when you row or bike to get an effective workout. When you row in intense intervals, you can burn as many calories as you do when you run but without the enormous strain on your joints. Personal trainer Eric Cressey says that this is a great workout because you can do it often without having to rest for too long.
Begin by rowing as you normally would, then doing so in an intense burst for a short amount of time before returning to your usual pace. Cressey recommends either a session of 500-400-300-200-100 meters with 60 seconds rest between sets or a 5 x 300-meter row with rest intervals that diminish in length between each set. You could also put on your favorite song and row as fast and as far as you can.
The downside to cardiovascular exercise is that you could still remain doughy, regardless of how long or how hard you work out. Bodybuilding also has its drawbacks for folks who want to avoid getting too bulky.
That’s where the total-body resistance training provided by kettlebells can help: Even a brief workout can build lean muscle and shed a hefty chunk of flab. Certified Kettlebell Instructor Mark Riverside writes that you can increase your functional strength while building a lean and muscular physique.
A typical kettlebell workout will usually include a healthy dose of swings, snatches, cleans, high pulls, and Turkish get-ups supplemented by bodyweight classics like push-ups and lunges. You don’t need to concern yourself with isolation exercises like bicep curls here; all of these exercises are guaranteed to strengthen different parts of your body at the same time.
Insanity refers to a series of 30-minute HIIT workouts, all packaged in one easy-to-follow 60-day DVD program. Each one begins with an active warm-up before proceeding to sets of non-stop exercises that usually include — but aren’t limited to — squats, push-ups, shuffles, suicide runs, basketball drills, and dips.
In their review of the program, TIME Magazine adds that you may be able to transform your body and drop several sizes if you supplement the program with a good diet. Make no mistake: If you’re looking for a fat-burning program with which you can track your progress, Insanity might just be what the doctor ordered.
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