Cardio for your Back: Bodyweight HIIT Training

by Marnie Bii | June 5th, 2014 | Assorted Workouts, Cardio

stretchingIf you want to work your back muscles while doing some cardio, consider this ladder workout using HIIT principles. HIIT routines focus on short, yet high intensity intervals broken up by short rest periods. At less than thirty minutes total, you can work brief ladder workouts into your day without straining your career or social schedule.

Stretches and Warm Up Routine

Since you will be hitting it hard with the HIIT routine, don’t even think about starting without stretching your body and warming up cold muscles. Go from head to toe activating your muscles using neck, shoulder, back, core, arm and leg stretches. Warm up by doing 20 to 30 seconds each of jumping jacks, squats, side bends and prone trunk rotations.

Bodyweight Exercises

Until you build strong muscles, bodyweight exercises offer enough resistance to keep your heart rate in the target zone. Consider these four exercises for your HIIT routine.

  • Pushups: A basic pushup will push you to your limits at first. Consider switching to grasshopper, triangle, one arm and medicine ball variations if you find the basic one too easy.
  • Squats: Starts with a basic squat routine to train your back and leg muscles to the same point. Then replace with pistols, shrimps, Bulgarian splits and box squats for a greater challenge.
  • Pull ups: Pulling exercises do the most for your back muscles, so embrace pull-ups as a part of your routine. Advanced pull-ups include close grip, wide grip, commandos and L-pulls.
  • Turkish Getups: The last exercise in your set should be one that activates all of the muscles in your body. Therefore, Turkish getups are the perfect finishing move for your HIIT routine.

These four exercises work well for HIIT routines because you can swap in their more advanced variations as you grow stronger. Remember, the goal is to keep your heart rate up to obtain a good cardio workout. Although these exercises build muscle, your main goal is working your heart.

Ladder Structure

Although choosing the right moves matters, the structure and intensity of your routine is the real focus. You want to hit each section as hard as you can to push your body to its limits. Using a ladder structure breaks up the intervals into manageable chunks. You want to start out strong, and then slowly decrease the intensity. This routine should last about 20 minutes from warm up to cool down.

The ladder structure should look like this:

  • 1 minute – Push ups
  • 1 minute – Squats
  • 1 minute – Pull ups
  • 1 minute – Turkish getups
  • 30 seconds of rest

Lower the intervals by ten seconds at a time until you work all the way down to 10 seconds each. Slightly lower the duration of your rest period alongside the interval time reductions.

Cool Down and Stretch Again

Finish up by slowly working through your warm up exercises to help your body cool down slowly. Do not worry about using high intensity, instead just focus on making it through the reps as your heart rate slows. Stretch your body from head to toe again to improve flexibility and prevent injury.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.