What makes a good fasted HIIT workout?

What makes a good fasted HIIT workout is dependent on each person. Your morning workout could look very different from your accountability partner but the overall impact can make a difference in your appearance and body fat.

HIIT training is a good way to knock out your cardiovascular exercise whether you are short on time or looking for a way to vary your cardio sessions.

woman doing high knees for fasted hiit workout

What is fasted cardio?

Fasted cardio refers to cardiorespiratory exercise performed in a fasted state.  A fasted state is one in which you have completely digested and absorbed your last meal and your insulin levels are at a low or baseline level.  

In general, this would be at least three to four hours after a meal.  In most research studies, fasted exercise is performed in the morning before the first meal of the day, and you have not eaten for eight to 12 hours.

What is High-Intensity Interval Training?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts involve repeated short bursts of high-intensity intervals followed by shorter recovery times. These intense workouts can involve cycling, walking, swimming, running, bodyweight exercises, plyometrics and even weighted exercises.

High-intensity workouts boost your heart rate fast and create a good lactic acid burn. These workouts allow you to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

How long are HIIT workouts?

HIIT workouts tend to be very short – ranging from 4 minutes to 20 minutes. Most people have more than enough stored glycogen to do a short and intense workout without eating beforehand.

Some studies show that doing a HIIT workout in a fasted state will help to release more fat cells AND burn those fat cells more efficiently, ultimately leading to more fat loss.

What exercises are good for HIIT cardio?

You can do a variety of exercises for a fasted workout. The type of exercise you do is highly dependent on you.

Here are a few you can include:

Jump squats improve agility and develop strength in lower body muscles. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, lower into a squat, and then push through your heels to jump explosively in the air. Land into the squat position and repeat

Standard squats are less explosive than jump squats but still effective. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and maintain a neutral spine position. Bending your hips and knees, lower into a squat, as deep down as possible. Pressing through your feet return to the standing position.

Lunges can be done in either direction and hit quads and glutes. Stand in a split stance with one foot in front of each other at shoulder width apart. Bend your knees until your rear knee touches the floor, and then extend them to return to the start.

Push-ups work improves the strength of your upper body including your chest and shoulders. This body weight exercise can be used in conjunction with other exercises for a HIIT workout.

Jumping rope can be done anywhere and a workout all by itself. If you don’t have a jump rope, you can do jumping jacks in its place.

Cardio equipment to use

You can use equipment like a step or bench. You can pull together a number of exercises together and use the aerobic step to create a workout.

A rowing machine workout is another option for a HIIT workout. You can change the length of the distance rowed for different intervals.

woman in orange tank top using rowing machine

Opt for kettlebells as a way to target your upper body and lower body. It allows for bursts of cardio during high-intensity exercise. A kettlebell is shaped perfectly for a variety of different exercises and adds to your functional strength because its weight shifts during your workout.

woman doing reverse lunges with kettlebell

Benefits of fasted cardio

Are the health benefits of fasted cardio that make rolling out of bed for a morning workout worth it?

May increase fat burning

Fasted cardio has shown to increase the percentage of fat oxidation, meaning that more of the calories you burn during the workout comes from stored body fat.

Burn stored energy

The type and intensity of exercise have an impact on the way your body chooses to fuel your workouts.

Time saver

You can save time because you are basically waking up and knocking out your cardio. You don’t have to worry about fitting it into your day later on.

Fasted HIIT workout FAQs

Should you eat after your workout?

Yes. You should replenish your body with a combination of macronutrients including protein, carbs and healthy fats. The least you should do is a protein shake and a complex carb.

How long should a fasted HIIT workout last?

A HIIT workout can last between 4 and 20 minutes of time.

Is fasted cardio better than steady-state cardio?

Both cardio workouts have a place in your workout routine. How you add them depends on your overall fitness goals.

Wrap up

You can do fasted cardio regardless of your fitness level. YOu always can vary the intensity of aerobic exercise with the length of interval periods and rest periods. You will find that doing a workout on an empty stomach won’t bother you much because most people have enough glycogen stores for up to a 20-minute workout.

You will find with proper nutrition that you may also see your body composition change over time.

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