It’s winter, and the slick roads and snow-covered sidewalks can make running outdoors a survival-of-the-fittest contest.
So maybe you’ve taken your running indoors. And you are starting to hate every minute of your treadmill workouts because they’re boring.
I don’t blame you.
Running on the treadmill is boring. It works your muscles differently than running outside. And … it’s boring (yes I already said that but it’s worth repeating).
What if I told you there was a way to still make use of your treadmill, and get an even better workout – while keeping your running chops intact? Without having to brave the slippery outdoor conditions?
The Kamikaze Cardio Workout
Welcome to the Kamikaze HIIT cardio workout.
I first started doing these workouts 10 years ago (wow!), when I was training for my first figure show. Lucky for me, my coach was a little ahead of her time, embracing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) before it was cool.
And not only that, but she introduced me to functional HIIT workouts, that used both bodyweight and weighted exercises to build strong abs and a powerful core.
With workouts like this kamikaze cardio workout, the whole idea is to warm up, then do some functional exercises before getting on the treadmill for 3 to 5 minutes for sprints/jogging/brisk walking (whatever you can muster).
And then you get off the equipment and repeat the exercise/cardio cycle a few times through, for a total of 20 to 30 minutes.
This style of workout remains my favorite way to get my cardio done. It’s awesome for people who have short attention spans, or who like to push the gas pedal to the floor with their own performance.
Why HIIT is a Hit
This style of workout has a number of impressive benefits for your body.
1. Benefit: Increased VO2 Max and Stamina
VO2 max is your maximal oxygen uptake. Basically, it’s one factor that measures your stamina and can predict your performance when it comes to cardiovascular endurance. (1)
First, it gets you into shape fast by pushing your body to (and maybe a little past) your limits. It requires your body to become more efficient at taking in (and using) oxygen to fuel your muscles.
2. Benefit: Increased Fat Loss
Studies show that for many people, high-intensity interval training boosts fat loss better than steady-state cardio. (2)
The level of effort required by total-body HIIT workouts like this Kamikaze cardio workout has a calorie-burning bonus. You will burn more fuel (calories and fat) both during and after your workout, as your body has to work hard to get your heart rate, blood pressure, and more back to its “normal” state post-workout. (3)
Now, this isn’t a ton of extra calories – not enough to justify a post-workout splurge – but every little bit helps, right?
3. Benefit: You’ll Maintain Valuable Muscle
With this kind of workout, you are actually using all the muscles in your body instead of simply going through the motions on a piece of cardio equipment. By challenging your muscles, you help improve muscular stamina and strength.
4. Benefit: Less Visceral (Dangerous) Belly Fat
Doing HIIT workouts like this one has been shown to be effective in targeting abdominal fat, more than some other types of workouts. (4)
5. Benefit: Less Chance of Repetitive-Use Injuries
Have you ever spent a good amount of time using the same cardio machine, over and over, and end up with an issue like a strained hip flexor or plantar fasciitis? You’re not alone.
Mixing up your workouts is vital to avoiding overuse injuries. (5)
Cardio Machine Intervals
You don’t HAVE to use the treadmill between rounds — you could use pretty much any machine that gets your heart rate up, although I think maybe using a rowing machine for this would be brutal (but hey, if you’re into that, give it a try and let me know how you do!). Also brutal: using a jump rope.
Before the Workout
You want to go into this one well warmed up. Start with 5 to 10 minutes on a piece of cardio equipment (elliptical, bike, treadmill, etc.) and then perform a series of dynamic exercises to get the muscles limbered up:
- Reverse lunges
- Frankenstein walks
- Lateral lunges or X-band walks
- Arm circles
Kamikaze HIIT Cardio Workout
After you’re warmed up, do:
- 20 Walking Lunges (use weights if you want more intensity)
- 10 Pushups
- 15 Jump Squats (can’t jump? hold a weight in front of your chest and do goblet squats)
- 12 Skaters each side
- 10 Burpees
- 10 Wood Chops each side
- 15 Mountain Climbers each side
- 10 Crab Taps (5 each side)
- Get back on the treadmill/elliptical/stairclimber and go for 3 to 5 minutes for a period of brief recovery before starting to ramp up intensity again
- Repeat for a total of 20 to 30 minutes
Cool down thoroughly when you’re done with 5 to 10 minutes of light treadmill walking/etc./before hitting the shower.
Save this image to your phone or device for easy access during your workout.
Do This Twice a Week
For best results, limit your HIIT workouts to two (or maybe three) times a week for optimal results. Because these workouts are tough, your body needs plenty of recovery time between bouts of working at a high intensity.
Fat-Loss Pro Tip
If you’re looking to change your body composition – lose fat, or lose fat and gain muscle – here’s a suggestion.
Unless you’re feeling shaky or in need of immediate fuel post-workout, wait 45 minutes or so before you have something besides water to drink or eat.
That’s because your body will likely have just begun to burn up all its quick fuel stores (glycogen) when you’ve finished doing this workout, and only fully entered the “fat-burning” zone. If you eat something immediately after, you’ll be shutting this down.
Wait a little while after you workout to get a bonus burn. And if you don’t wait, don’t fret: you won’t undo your gains (or losses). The difference isn’t huge, but every little helps, right?
Join the Strong Core Challenge!
Think doing endless crunches is the way to getting flat abs? How about trying a few simple changes for 6 days, and see what happens? By making slight adjustments in your workout AND your nutrition, you can start to feel a huge difference in your core, fast! Want to know more?
Sign up for the FREE 6-Day Core Challenge!
Just click the banner below and you’ll be on your way to flatter, leaner abs.