Not seeing results as fast as you’d like?
If you’ve fallen into a rut, don’t worry!
There are more exciting and effective ways to stay fit than the traditional treadmill. For example, Zumba is a social dance experience that most people consider more fun than fitness.
Or you can try High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which upgrades the results of cardio in a fraction of the time.
Of course you can always do both, but which exercise form will help you accomplish your fitness goals?
Zumba is part dance class, part intense aerobics. In the 1990s, aerobics instructor Beto Perez forgot the aerobics tapes for his aerobics class. Instead, he used traditional salsa and merengue music he happened to have in his bag. Thus, Zumba was born!
Zumba is typically a one-hour class taught by an instructor. The instructor teaches class members a few easy steps per song and encourages them to move to the beat.
Work Your Whole Body. To many people, Zumba feels more like dancing than working out. It incorporates hip and abs gyrations of Latin dancing with more traditional aerobic moves like lunges and squats. The combination of two styles works muscles you may not have known you had.
Adapt Your Workout to Your Fitness Level. Young and old, fat and thin can Zumba. As long as you move to the beat, you’ll have fun. Simply modify the dance moves to your ability. If you want a more challenging session, try to match the energy of the instructor: you’re guaranteed a good workout!
Release Stress. Exercise is a great way to forget about day-to-day worries. Zumba is interactive: it forces you to concentrate on moving your body to the music. It also releases endorphins, a chemical that improves mood.
Work Out With Friends. Whether you drag a bunch of people with you or meet new people in your class, Zumba is a social experience. Get fit and have fun at the same time.
Let the Time Fly. Most people don’t even notice the hour is over; they’re having too much fun!
If you’ve ever been on a sports team at the mercy of a coach, you’ve experienced high intensity drills. They are a great technique for increasing agility, building endurance, and raising heart rate. High-intensity interval training is a variation of this technique.
Get your heart rate up to near maximum (so you’re breathing hard enough to make talking difficult) for a minute or two. Then take it easy for half that time. Repeat the pattern 10 times. A HIIT workout can last as little as 20 minutes with results.
Better still, you can do any activity with this technique: swimming, running, cycling, even weightlifting.
Burn Fat Faster. A 20-minute HIIT workout, repeated 3 times a week, has the same fat-burning effect as three 50-minute workouts of moderate-intensity activity. The high exertion improves the body’s repair cycle so more fat and calories are burned even after your workout.
Burn Fat More Efficiently. This may seem like a repetition, but studies show people who use HIIT burn the same amount of fat in less time than they would doing moderate-intensity exercise. They also burn more fat by doing less exercise.
In one study, those who used HIIT burned nine times as much fat as those who participated in endurance training. The HIIT subjects also worked out for less time and used less energy in their sessions.
Gain a Healthier Heart. The high-intensity part of HIIT pushes your heart into the anaerobic zone. A study showed only 8 weeks of HIIT workouts helped subjects bicycle significantly longer than they could at the beginning of the study.
Lose Weight, Not Muscle. Surprisingly, steady cardio tends to burn muscle along with fat. HIIT has the unique quality of using fat stores for energy and mostly leaving muscle alone.
Challenge Yourself. HIIT may seem like a miracle workout, but it isn’t easy. You have to work hard and concentrate to constantly move from high to low intensity exercises. But for gym rats and newbies alike, HIIT offers a way to see results fast.
Zumba and HIIT have benefits and drawbacks, depending on what you want from a fitness program.
Zumba is more focused on dancing and fun, with fat-burning tagging along as a welcome side benefit. HIIT is firmly dedicated to burning fat fast. It is more draining than fun but provides unmatchable results.
Of course, combining the two provides the ultimate exercise program: fun and fat burning. What could be better?
 Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. “Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism.” Metabolism. Jul 1994; 43(7):814-8.
 Ziemann E, Grywacz T, Luszcyk M, Laskowski R, Olek RA, Gibson AL. “Aerobic and anaerobic changes with high-intensity interval training in active college-aged men.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Apr 2011; 25(4): 1104-12.