You probably should be doing more cardio. It’s good for your heart, your health, your fitness, and can help shave off a few extra calories if you’re trying to watch your weight.

But it’s BORING! Thank the gym gods HIIT was discovered, reducing our weekly cardio workouts to short-sharp bursts of effort, leaving us sweaty but done in 30 minutes or less.

However, there’s another cardio acronym that you may not be as familiar with, and it could actually be more helpful if your overall goal is to bulk up and build muscle.

High-Intensity Continuous Training (HICT)

The difference between HIIT and HICT should be fairly obvious from the name, while HIIT has you working in short intervals, HICT involves working continuously in what is essentially a slow aerobic session, keeping your heart rate below approximately 150 bpm.

Now, don’t confuse this with steady state cardio, which is your typical continuous cardio, such as going for an hour-long jog or bike ride. HICT involves performing one explosive rep of a loaded exercise every few seconds continually for roughly 5 minutes.

HICT as active recovery

Slower aerobic exercise like this is a great way to help your body recover and prepare for your next weightlifting session. HICT works to improve both your aerobic conditioning, but also the stamina of your fast-twitch muscle fibres; the ones that have the greatest potential for size and strength. By targeting them with a single move, you’ll be working them without ever exhausting them, thereby boosting their endurance.

This means you’ll be able to handle heavier loads for longer durations the next time you lift.

HICT exercises to try

Image: instagram @leonardhous

Stationary bike -> high resistance, 1 full rotation = 1 rep

Weighted step up on a box -> step up onto a box without resting your back foot on it, repeat on the other foot = 1 rep

Stairmaster -> high resistance, one step with each foot = 1 rep

Exercise sledge -> load up the sledge and push or pull with a rope, switching hand positions = 1 rep

Choose one of the pieces of equipment listed above and perform one rep, as powerfully as you can, every 5 seconds or so for no more than 7 minutes. Rest for up to 5 minutes (trust me, you’ll need it), then repeat 2 more times.

The goals is to keep your heart rate between 140 to 150 bpm. If it drops below you can add more weight and vice versa if it goes above.

No heart rate monitor? Then breathe exclusively through your nose during the workout. If you can’t maintain this breathing pattern, then you’re going too hard or you need to lower the resistance.

Need more workout ideas?

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