How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

5,386 Views

How to calculate your HIIT heart rate target training zones

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m discussing how to do HIIT cardio correctly, including how to calculate your HIIT heart rate target training zones.

And I have to say “correctly”, because most people think HIIT cardio is something that it really isn’t.

This is the third video in our “Truth About Cardio” series.

But before I share how to do HIIT cardio correctly, I have to be 100% upfront.

If I’m going to talk about how to do HIIT cardio correctly, I have to admit, I used to be one of those people who did it wrong.

In the past, I’ve incorrectly classified a few of my follow along YouTube workout videos as HIIT cardio.

Don’t get me wrong, they were still awesome workouts, but technically they should have been classified as metabolic training workouts, not HIIT workouts.

Here’s a video post on the difference between metabolic training workouts and HIIT cardio workouts.

The main difference between metabolic training and HIIT cardio is the recovery time.

Let me break this down for you.

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training

Note the word “interval”.

However, most people think HIIT cardio needs to be an all out, max effort workout, that is short due to having little to no rest.

For example, lets say you complete:

Most people would classify this as a HIIT workout, and it could be.

But for most people, it probably isn’t.

Here’s why.

Here are two ways you’re probably doing HIIT cardio workouts wrong:

  1. You’re not pushing your body hard enough to increase your heart rate into the high intensity target zone.
  2. You’re not allowing enough recovery time to allow your heart rate to drop down into the low intensity target zone.

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

How to calculate your HIIT cardio heart rate training zones:

When it comes to HIIT cardio, the two heart rate training zones you should be familiar with is:

  • high intensity heart rate training zone
  • low intensity heart rate training zone

High intensity interval training heart rate target zone calculation:

Typically, the high intensity interval should increase your heart rate to 85-90% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).

Your maximum heart rate, in beats per minute (BPM), is calculated as:

  • 220 – your age

Here’s a simple formula to calculate your high intensity heart rate target zones:

  • (220 – your age) * 0.85

For example, I’m 38 years old, so my HIIT heart rate target zone would be calculated as follows:

  • (220 – 38) * 0.85
  • My high intensity heart rate zone = 155 beats per minute (bpm)

Low intensity interval training heart rate target zone calculation:

Typically, the low intensity interval should allow your heart rate to drop back to 65-70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).

  • (220 – your age) * 0.65

My low intensity interval training heart rate target zone would be calculated as follows:

  • (220 – 38) * 0.65
  • My low intensity heart rate zone = 118 beats per minute (bpm)

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

How to do HIIT cardio correctly

By paying attention to these heart rate calculations, this is how to do HIIT cardio correctly.

Here’s one of my favorite HIIT cardio protocols.

A 20 second high intensity interval treadmill sprint, at a fast enough speed and incline, to allow your heart rate to reach the high intensity target zone.

I prefer high intensity intervals in the 4-60 second range.

This is because the body mainly taps into the creatine phosphate (ATP-CP) and anaerobic glycolytic (lactic acid) energy system.

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

Without getting to technical on energy systems, these are the energy system sprinters tap into for the explosive 100, 200, and 400 meter dash.

Anything over 2 minutes of intensity and you’re pushing into the aerobic energy system.

This is when the body can potentially enter the catabolic muscle breakdown state when completed over a much longer period of time.

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

So lets get back to the example.

After the 20 second high intensity interval is over, you begin the low intensity interval.

You lower the intensity for however long it takes to drop your heart rate back into the low intensity target zone.

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

This is where most people get HIIT cardio wrong.

They don’t take a long enough recovery period to drop their heart rate.

During your low intensity interval, you’re still moving, but at a reduced intensity to allow your heart rate to lower.

I use this heart rate monitor chest strap and sync it with the free app on my iPhone, so I can monitor my heart rate.

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, I tell my clients to reduce their intensity long enough so you can carry on a normal conversation.

For the first few low intensity intervals, your heart rate will typically slow down quicker.

For example, it may only take 60 seconds to drop during the first 2 intervals.

However, the longer you go, the more time will be needed to lower your heart rate.

The fitter and better conditioned you are, the faster your heart rate will drop back down.

This means for a conditioned trainee, it could take only 40 seconds to drop your heart rate, but for a beginner, it could take more than 60 seconds.

This is one of the ways to measure if your cardio conditioning is improving.

Basic HIIT cardio workout:

  • 3-5 minute warm up: elevate heart rate to 60% of maximum heart rate
  • High intensity interval #1: 20 seconds at an intensity to elevate to 85% of maximum heart rate
  • Low intensity interval #1: as long as it takes to lower to 65% of maximum heart rate
  • Repeat: until 20 minutes is up

How to scale HIIT cardio workouts for beginners

Most HIIT cardio workouts last 20-25 minutes.

This typically includes 10 sets of high intensity intervals and 10 sets of low intensity intervals.

If you’re a beginner to HIIT cardio, one way to scale your HIIT cardio workouts is based on time, rather than a set number of intervals.

This way, if you need extended recovery periods to allow your heart rate to drop, you can simply stop your HIIT cardio workout after 20 minutes, rather than completing a set number of intervals.

That’s it.

You now know how to do HIIT cardio correctly.

Welcome to Live Lean Sprint 2.0!

Live Lean Sprint 2.0

If you’re looking for the best HIIT cardio, LISS cardio workouts, and the nutrition plan to burn belly fat as fast as possible, go pick up a copy of my brand new Live Lean Sprint 2.0 program.

We’re also hooking up the first 250 people who buy the program with a copy of our brand new TeamLiveLean.com 30 day Fat Melting Power Sets resistance training program.

Thanks for watching and keep Living Lean.


READY TO BEGIN YOUR LIVE LEAN JOURNEY?

Start by taking our FREE Live Lean Body Quiz to get access to the best program specific to your goals!


6 responses to “How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *