We strive to keep ourselves physically fit by training as efficiently as possible. One variable that we need to account for is time. How can we get the most benefit out of our workouts, but without spending hours doing it? One popular way to accomplish this goal is to do high-intensity interval training HIIT.
HIIT workouts are vigorous workouts that ramp up your heart rate for cardio benefit. Also, the right program will target your full body. HIIT workouts are especially well-suited if you are striving to improve endurance. The level of intensity, plus a priority goal to increase and maintain heart rate, also can save time.
There are HIIT workouts designed for all types of exercise equipment and machines. One of the single best pieces of equipment to build endurance while achieving a full-body workout is an elliptical.
Let’s start by giving you a quick overview of the HIIT workout concept. We’ll talk about why an elliptical is such a good option and then finish with an excellent 20-minute HIIT workout works so well for building great endurance.
What is HIIT?
As we mentioned, HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. Personal trainers, certification programs and exercise scientists have rigorously researched the concept. Through each level of research, HIIT has met or exceeded expectations.
Without spending pages to try to explain the science behind the HIIT workout theory, we’ll give you the basic underlying principles behind why it’s so popular and likewise so successful. The first half of the acronym is the key.
A HIIT workout must include periods of high-intensity. This high-intensity focuses on your maximum target heart rate. To gain the full benefit of high-intensity, we need to hit this target pulse rate. In a HIIT workout, you ramp up your intensity to 80 to 95 percent of your maximum.
To get the cardio benefit of this portion of a program, you maintain this heart rate for 30 seconds up to eight minutes. The time and intensity are dictated by your fitness level. Now, this is where the interval portion of a HIIT workout becomes important. It’s a resting period that actually isn’t rest at all.
Unlike machine circuits or many weight training regimens, HIIT’s rest periods are short to non-existent. When you use a machine such as a treadmill or elliptical trainer, intervals are not times to rest. You simply ease off the gas a little to reduce the level of intensity.
During these brief interval periods, we lighten up on the intensity level. Whether it’s slowing down to a light jog or relaxing the intensity on an elliptical, we allow our heart rate to slow to around 50 to 60 percent of our maximum target rate.
These rest intervals of a full program are usually very brief. Advanced athletes may only drop their level intensity for 15 to 30 seconds, ideally just long enough to let muscles recover. Beginners to intermediate fitness levels commonly reduce the intensity for 1 to 2 minutes.
As soon as this short rest interval is over, we steadily ramp the intensity level back up. Again, we strive to reach at least 80 percent of our target maximum. Without even stepping, you can easily envision how this concept would dramatically improve endurance.
Why Is an Elliptical Trainer Good for HIIT Workouts?
If you dig into the history behind the invention, you’ll immediately see a key reason why this machine is so advantageous for cardio and endurance training. And if you buy an elliptical trainer that folds, you can easily store it when not in use. This makes it possible to get a great low-impact training in a small apartment or house.
A key idea behind cross-training theory is high levels of intensity spread across brief intervals of moderate rest. Sound familiar? It’s almost as if it was designed with HIIT workouts in mind. Elliptical trainers improve endurance, burn away calories while giving you a thorough full-body workout.
Just by the nature of the lower body motion using an elliptical, we can blend running, stair climbing and walking into one machine. Now, we can’t forget to mention how amazingly more joint-friendly these machines are over stationary bikes or treadmills.
In addition, there are two moving handles. If you’ve used an elliptical trainer, you’ll appreciate the benefit of these. At the same time, you’re vigorously training your lower body, including core, you’re moving your arms.
An elliptical trainer works your entire upper body. The push/pull motion works your back, arms, and chest. The slight turning motion as you stride also hits your oblique muscles. For full-body efficiency with the ability to build endurance through cardio intensity, it’s hard to beat.
To get you started or give you a program to add some diversity to the workouts you already have, here’s an excellent 20-minute HIIT elliptical trainer workout to boost endurance.
What’s the Best 20-Minute HIIT Elliptical Trainer Workout Boost Endurance?
The main thing to remember when building any HIIT workout is to include the rest intervals but to keep in mind what rest actually means. You should adapt the level at which you attack your maximum heart rate depending on your fitness level.
If you’re a beginner, start slowly and build up gradually. Beginners and intermediate levels will also have longer rest intervals than someone who is has a lot of training experience. You can tweak this 20-minute program to fit your personal goals while staying within your limitations.
Advanced HIIT Elliptical Trainer Workout
- Warm-up 5-Minutes – This should be a gradual warm-up. Begin slowly, starting a low-speed low intensity. Gradually increase everything about 10-percent every 20 seconds. By the time you get to the five-minute mark, you should flow right into your first circuit.
- Interval 1-Minute – Strive to reach at least 75 percent of your maximum speed and resistance during this first interval.
- Rest 1-Minute – Reduce to virtually no resistance and 50 percent speed.
- Interval 1–Minute – During the second interval, raise your intensity and effort to at least 80 percent of your maximum output. Advanced fitness levels can push for 100 percent max.
- Rest 30–Seconds – Reduce the intensity back to 50 to 60 percent of maximum effort
- Interval 1-minute 30-seconds – Add 30 more seconds to your second intense interval. Strive to push your target heart rate to 95 percent max. Beginners and intermediate levels can work towards hitting 80 percent.
- Rest 30-seconds – Second rest period, reduce back to 50 to 60 percent of maximum heart rate.
- Interval 2-minutes – The third interval maintains high-intensity for a full two-minute segment.
- Rest 30-seconds – This final rest segment is the shortest. Beginners and Intermediate levels can begin with only 1-minute intense training levels blended with 1-minute rest intervals.
- Interval 2-minutes – This is another full two-minute intense interval.
- Rest 30-seconds – This is the final rest interval in the 20-minute circuit. Highly advanced fitness levels can reduce the final two rest intervals by 15-seconds and add that half a minute onto the final interval making it another 2 minutes of intensity.
- Interval 1-minute, 30-seconds – This is the final interval circuit. Strive to reach the 95 percent plateau for your maximum target heart rate.
- Warm Down 3-minutes – Bring your intensity level back to 50 percent, and then gradually reduce the level until you are striding out at near-zero intensity for the final 60-seconds.
The key idea behind HIIT workouts is reaching a maximum target heart rate, maintaining that level during brief periods, while limiting the rest intervals. The design makes it a perfect machine to achieve these types of training goals.
Elliptical trainers offer an easy way to adjust the intensity, plus you can hit every muscle on your body with at least some level of focus. Jump on your trainer today and start your way to improving your endurance with a HIIT elliptical trainer workout one interval at a time.