Go to any gym in America and you will see people plodding away on a treadmill, elliptical or bicycle for much longer than they probably want to be there. In this age of more is better, some people believe putting in all that time is the only way to get fitness results. However, there are many fitness experts who would argue that when it comes to a cardio workout, less is more...less time that is, but not less intensity.

It is called high-intensity interval training or HIIT, and it is now considered one of the most effective types of exercise methods.  It is basically any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. The difference between HIIT and other forms of exercise is that you only stay at an intensive level for a short period of time.

HIIT is a super-efficient workout ideal for busy schedules. In fact, research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training three times a week than that guy jogging on the treadmill for an hour.   I don't know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Among its many benefits, HIIT burns a lot of calories quickly, it can reduce fat, build muscle and improve blood pressure, blood sugars and our cardiovascular system. Some of the calories burned from high-intensity intervals come from a higher metabolism, which lasts for hours after exercise.

Most HIIT routines are no longer than 30 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down. HIIT can be used with almost every type of exercise. Sprinting, biking, jumping rope, bodyweight exercises or any cardio machine workout can be performed as a HIIT workout.

Here are a few simple examples of HIIT workouts from Healthline:

  • Using a stationary bike, pedal as hard and fast as possible for 30 seconds. Then, pedal at a slow, easy pace for two to four minutes. Repeat this pattern for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • After jogging to warm up, sprint as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Then, walk or jog at a slow pace for one to two minutes. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Perform squat jumps as quickly as possible for 30 to 90 seconds. Then, stand or walk for 30 to 90 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes.

So if you are looking for an effective, quick and efficient workout with tremendous benefits, be sure to include high-intensity interval training in your workout routine.