Sweating your butt off in a packed HIIT workout class is all the rage, with science backing up the shorter, more intense workout trend. But what if you absolutely hate HIIT training? How can you effectively build muscle and burn fat?
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Here are seven HIIT alternatives that help you burn roughly the same number of calories and give you some of the same awesome benefits — but without that sense of dread beforehand.
Switch up your strength training workouts and start seeing results by revamping your strength training program. Supersets involve alternating sets of two different exercises without a break in between movements. For example, alternating between doing a set of bent-over rows and a set of chest presses until you've completed all the sets.
This strength-training method can boost performance, build muscle and endurance, burn fat and cut your workout time in half. And supersets burn more calories during and after workouts than traditional strength training, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
While there are many types of supersets, one great variation is supersetting using opposing muscle groups, says Dianne Villano, a certified personal trainer in St. Petersburg, FL. For example, she has her clients doing supersets that pair a push-up with a Superman, burpees with swimmers or a dumbbell shoulder press with a bent-over row.
This ultimate stress-busting workout will have you feeling empowered while changing your body composition. And yes, there will be push-ups in a typical boxing workout class. (Hello, toned arms!)
Boxing pushes your cardiovascular system to the max in a group setting where everyone is ready to kick butt and sweat hard. Plus, you're getting a full-body workout, since each explosive punch requires core, leg and upper-body strength. You'll also feel a burst in confidence knowing how to defend yourself.
3. Maximal Lifting
Heavy lifting one, two or three reps boosts muscle growth by activating the release of the hormones testosterone and HGH. To start, you can use this test to find your one-rep max. Just make sure you have at least six month of regular strength training under your belt so you don't injure yourself.
To do these heavy, low-rep moves, use compound moves such as the deadlift, bench press, front squat, back squat and shoulder press. Ensure that you're warmed up for these moves by doing a set with lighter weights or even just your body weight. And remember that when you perform these types of lifts, your body needs a longer rest period — about three to four minutes in between sets — since you're maxing out each lift.
Maximize your time while increasing strength with kettlebells for a complete, total-body workout where you'll burn just as many calories as HIIT training! Kettlebell workouts are a fun way to mix resistance training with cardio, and you'll scorch up to 20 calories a minute, according to a study by The American Council on Exercise.
"Kettlebells help you lose weight, because the U-shaped handle changes your center of gravity which challenges your balance and requires stabilization," says Lisa Balash, creator of the Kettlebell Bombshell DVD Series. "It burns fat because it's an anaerobic and aerobic workout that also strengthens your core. Burning fat will expose lean defined muscles."
5. Salsa Dancing
Who says a workout has to be in a gym? Skip counting down the minutes on a machine and check out a dance class near you to learn the basics. Or you can crank up some salsa hits in your house or pop in a dance fitness DVD for a cardio workout that won't disappoint. When you're dancing, you're not thinking about burning fat, you're dancing the stress of your day away!
Though calories burned per minute depends on your age, height, weight and intensity of the workout, a fitness tracker can give you a tailored estimate. Start with 30 minutes three times a week to see results.
Indoor cycling is a fairly low-impact workout, which is perfect for those who want to give their knees a break from running or other high-impact workouts. It's also the perfect excuse to rock out to your favorite music. And if you enjoy group classes, you'll have the added bonus of working out with other people which boosts your motivation.
"You're getting sustained cardio for a long period of time, which is great as you're using anaerobic and aerobic systems while gaining motivation from others around you," says Jaimi Jansen, certified personal trainer and founder of Santa Cruz Core. Most gyms now offer dedicated themed spin classes where you can rock out to your favorite boy band hits or 80s rock jams.
The TRX Suspension Trainer is a staple in many gyms (and home gyms), since using your own body weight gives you a killer workout in a time crunch. "TRX is probably the best gym-in-a-bag solution one could travel with," says Chris Hale, certified personal trainer of Awakened Nutrition and Training. "You can attach it to a door jamb inside or hook it around a tree outside in the park and go."
It'll also increase your heart rate, which, in turn, will boost your caloric burn. "Using the TRX to train forces your body to work harder to stabilize your joints and your trunk really helping to turn on and engage muscles on a deeper level," Hale says. "Since the TRX allows full freedom of movement you really can use it for everything from stabilization work to explosive plyometric exercises." Now that's worth skipping HIIT for!
Read more: 16 TRX Moves for a Full-Body Workout