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How to take your HIIT workout to the next level

So you've got on board the HIIT train. Maybe it was because you saw the studies which show that HIIT is fantastic for fat loss.[1] Maybe it's because the idea of getting your cardio done in as little as 10 minutes or less was just too good to pass up.

Either way, you're here now, and you're starting to wonder if there's more to this whole thing than just doing sprint intervals on your treadmill.

Well, without further ado, here's a look at some ways you can spice up your HIIT workout and kick it up to the next level.

Throw in some Tabata training

Tabata training is named after Japanese Dr. Izumi Tabata, who conducted exercise-based trials on subjects. His research found that those who did a high-intensity, 4-minute training session four days a week for six weeks, experienced much greater aerobic and anaerobic benefits than subjects who did a 1-hour moderate intensity training session five days a week for six weeks.[2]

Tabata training is a classic HIIT approach. It involves starting with a 20-second all-out effort on a given exercise, followed by a 10 second rest period, and then a repeat of the 20-second max effort.

Tabata training is extremely tough, extremely time-efficient, and extremely versatile. It can be applied to any exercise (or group of exercises) you could imagine -- be it a combination of bodyweight or weight training moves.

An example of a Tabata workout circuit could be:

Push Ups (4 minutes)

Burpees (4 minutes)

Squats (4 minutes)

In this example, you would do the pushups using the Tabata cycle of 20 seconds effort, 10 seconds rest, and repeat until all four minutes were up. You'd then rest for one minute before moving onto the burpees, following the same cycle for 4 minutes, then switch to the squats. You can also try our free HIIT workouts suitable for all fitness abilities and designed to help you lose weight and tone up.

Train with a prowler sled

Training with a prowler sled is one of the most effective ways of exhausting your entire body ever invented by mortal man. It also does a fantastic job of strengthening the posterior chain -- including glutes, hips, and back, which improves your deadlift performance and overall strength. By the time you're done with a prowler workout, your whole body will be on fire -- and with regular practice, your explosiveness and athleticism will skyrocket.

Using a prowler sled for HIIT couldn't be "easier." Simply load on the appropriate amount of weight to really challenge yourself, push the sled as hard and fast as possible for the allocated time, and then take a break.

You could follow the Tabata structure when using the prowler -- 20 seconds of max intensity pushing, 10 seconds rest, and repeat for 4 minutes. On the other hand, you could use a more straightforward approach and push the sled until you just can't push anymore, at which point you'd jog around for a minute before attacking the prowler again.

Turn your martial arts drill into an HIIT session

Martial arts drills are a great way of increasing not only your fighting skill, but also your cardiovascular fitness and even your muscular endurance (try punching or kicking a heavy bag as hard and fast as you can for 10 minutes, and you're bound to feel the burn).

With a small tweak or two, you can seamlessly integrate HIIT principles into your regular martial arts practice. Not only will you reap the benefits of HIIT, but your art will also improve (provided you force yourself to maintain correct form and protocol) by getting you used to fighting while stressed and exhausted. Needless to say, that's a useful skill to have, either in a self-defence situation or if you're planning on competing.

To do this solo, find a heavy bag or training dummy, and attack it as hard and fast as you can for a set period of time. When the time limit's up (or when you're completely exhausted), step back and practice your attacks on the bag in a slow, controlled fashion while catching your breath. Then attack with full force again and repeat.

You can also do this drill with a partner, by having one of you hold a striking pad while the other attacks it and presses forward. Then simply switch over and repeat.

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