4 Cardio Workouts That Maximize Your Afterburn

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One of the great things about exercise is that, not only do you get the benefits during your workouts, the rewards keep on coming…that is, if you’re doing the right kind of exercise.

That reward is what we call the afterburn, also known as post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The afterburn refers to the amount of oxygen your body consumes above resting level after your workout. Or put another way, it’s how many calories your body burns before it gets back to its pre-exercise state.

Workout 1: Rolling Interval

This is the perfect workout for generating afterburn. The idea is to start at a moderate intensity and increase the intensity to hard and then very hard by using speed or incline, repeating that through three different intervals.

Keep track of your perceived exertion and change the settings for each segment as needed to match the RPE. In other words, you don’t have to (or may not be able to) stay at the same speed or incline for the entire workout. 
Time Intensity/Speed RPE
6 Min Warm Up, gradually increasing speed and/or incline to reach moderate intensity. This is baseline Working up to a Level 5
5 Min Start at Baseline and increase incline 1-2 increments each minute Working up to Level 8
 

Rolling Interval 1 – Incline:

Time Intensity/Speed RPE
1 Min Moderate: Increase your incline to 6%, choose a pace that allows you to work at a moderate intensity Level 5
1 Min High: Increase incline to 8%, Level 6-7
1 Min Very High: Increase incline to 10%, adjust your speed to maintain a very high intensity Level 7-9
 

Rolling Interval 2 – Speed:

Time Intensity/Speed RPE
1 Min Moderate: Bring your incline to 1% and set your speed to moderate Level 5
1 Min High: Increase speed to work at a hard intensity, incline remains at 1% Level 7
1 Min Very High: Increase speed to work at an even harder intensity, incline 1% Level 9
 

Rolling Interval 3 – Incline:

Time Intensity/Speed RPE
1 Min Moderate: Baseline: Incline at 6.5%, speed at a moderate intensity Level 5
1 Min High: Increase incline to 8.5%, same speed or lower if necessary Level 7
1 Min Very High: Increase incline to 10.5%, same speed or lower Level 9
5 Min Cool down at an easy pace Level 4

Workout Time: 25 Minutes

 

Workout 2: Tabata Training

Tabata training is a form of HIIT that really gets your heart pumping, resulting in an amazing afterburn. The idea is to work as hard as you can for 20 seconds and then rest for only 10 seconds. You repeat that 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. This workout includes 4 blocks in which you’ll alternate two exercises for each Tabata

Warm Up Tabata – 4 Minutes

  • Step out squat: Step out to the right with a wide step. Now take a wide step to the left, getting as low to the ground as you can while taking the widest step you can.
  • Straight leg kicks: Lift the right leg, keeping a slight bend in the knee, to hip level or higher. At the same time, circle the right arm around and down, as though you’re trying to touch the right toe (you probably won’t…that’s okay). Lower and repeat on the other side, going as fast as you can.
Alternate each exercise, doing each for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds between exercises. Repeat the series 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Take a short rest and go to the next Tabata.

Tabata 1 – Burpees and Mountain Climbers – 4 Minutes
  • Burpees – Place your hands on the floor, jump the feet back into a plank, jump the feet back in and stand up. Add a jump for more intensity, or walk the feet back instead of jumping if you need a modification.
  • Mountain Climbers – While on the floor in a plank position, run the knees in and out as fast as you can.
Alternate each exercise, doing each for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds between exercises. Repeat the series 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Take a 60-second rest and move on.

Tabata 2 – High Knee Jogs and Jumping Jacks – 4 Minutes

  • High knee jogs – While jogging in place, bring the knees up to hip level, circling the arms overhead to add intensity.
  • Jumping jacks – Jump the feet out wide while circling the arms up overhead. Jump the feet together as you lower the arms. Go as quickly as you can.

Alternate each exercise, doing each for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds between exercises. Repeat the series 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Take a 60-second rest and move on.

Tabata 3 – Squats and Plyo-Lunges – 4 Minutes

  • Bodyweight squat: With feet hip distance apart, sit the hips back into a low squat position and then return to standing.
  • Plyo-Lunges: Start with feet together and jump up, landing in a lunge with right leg forward left leg back, bending the knees in a lunge. Jump up, switch feet in the air and land with the other leg forward.

Alternate each exercise, doing each for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds between exercises. Repeat the series 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. Take a 60-second rest and move on.

Tabata 4 – Ski Hops and Speed Skaters
  • Ski Hops – Keeping feet together, bend the knees and jump to the right as far as you can. Jump to the left and continue going from side to side as fast as you can.
  • Speed Skaters – Jump to the right, landing on the right foot. Immediately take another lateral jump to the left, jumping as far as you can and keeping low to the ground rather than jumping up in the air. When jumping to the right, touch the left hand to the right foot when you land. The left foot comes behind the right and stays off the ground. When jumping to the left, the right hand can touch the left foot and the right foot stays behind and off the ground.

Cool down: Take 5 minutes to cool down, allowing your heart rate to slow down. End your workout with a well-deserved stretch.

Total Workout Time – 25 Minutes

 

Workout 3: Mixed Interval

This mixed interval includes high-intensity intervals, alternating speed, and hill or resistance work as well as longer aerobic intervals. The differences between the aerobic intervals are subtle, so pay attention to your intensity and make adjustments throughout the intervals to stay within the suggested perceived exertion.

You can do this workout on any cardio machine or even outside if you’re walking, running, or cycling.
 
Time Intensity/Speed RPE
5 min Warm up at an easy-moderate pace 4-5
1 min Baseline: Increase speed gradually to slightly harder than comfortable 5
1 min Increase speed/resistance to work harder than baseline 6
1 min Increase speed/resistance to work harder than previous interval 7
1 min Increase speed/resistance one more time to work as hard as you can 8
2 min Baseline 5
90 sec Hill – Keep your pace the same and increase incline/resistance to that you’re working hard 7-8
60 sec Recover at a comfortable pace 4-5
90 sec Speed – Increase pace so that you’re working hard 7-8
60 sec Recover 4-5
90 sec Hill – Increase incline/resistance to that you’re working hard 7-8
60 sec Recover 4-5
90 sec Speed – Increase pace so that you’re working hard 7-8
4 min Cool down at an easy pace and stretch 3-4
Total: 25 Minutes
 
 

Workout 4: Outdoor Circuit

One way to spice up an outdoor workout up while creating more afterburn is to sprinkle some high-intensity moves throughout your walk or run. You’ll do sprints and/or hill climbs, depending on your terrain, and some plyometric moves that will work every muscle in your body and send your heart rate soaring.

Time Activity RPE
5 min Warm-up – Brisk walking or a light jog 4
2 min Baseline: Walk or jog This is your baseline pace. You should feel slightly breathless. 5
20 reps Jumping Lunges In a reverse lunge stance, jump up and switch the feet in the air, landing with the opposite foot forward. Repeat for 20 reps. 6-7
1 min Speed walk, Sprint or Hill Climb Pick up the pace or, if you’re at a hill, climb it as fast as you can. 7-8
1 min Walk or jog Slow down enough to lower your heart rate back to baseline. 5
20 reps Jumping Lunges In a split stance, jump up and switch the feet in the air, landing with the opposite foot forward. Repeat for 20 reps. 6-7
1 min Speed walk, Sprint or Hill Climb Again, sprint or climb a hill as fast as you can. 7-8
1 min Walk or jog Slow down to get back to baseline. 5
1 min Sprints Choose an object in the distance (a tree, mailbox, etc.) and run/walk to it as fast as you can. Walk for 10 seconds and repeat the sprints for the full minute. 8
2 min Walk or Jog Slow down to baseline. 5
20 reps Plyo-Jacks Jump in the air and land in low squat. Jump the feet back into a squat, going as deep as you can. Repeat for 20 reps. 6-7
1 min Speed walk, Sprint or Hill Climb Spring or hill-climb as fast as you can. 8
20 reps Plyo-Jacks Jump in the air and land in low squat. Jump the feet back into a squat, going as deep as you can. Repeat for 20 reps. 6-7
1 min Speed walk, Sprint or Hill Climb For your last sprint/hill, see if you can go faster than before. 8
2 min Walk or Jog Slow down to baseline. 5
3 min Cool down with an easy walk. 3-4
 

Total Workout Time: 25 Minutes

Try one or two of these workouts per week to generate more afterburn, using the other days for more moderate cardio, weight training, and stretching. Not only will you burn more calories, you’ll bump up your endurance, making all your other workouts feel easier than ever. Not a bad bonus.

Written by Paige Waehner from www.verywellfit.com

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