Improving your level of cardiovascular fitness is important for burning calories, maintaining a healthy bodyweight, and decreasing your risks of disease. Knowing why cardio is important is the easy part. Knowing what type of cardio you should be performing can be a little trickier.
There are two types of cardio methods to choose from, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and steady-state cardio. Let’s take a look at HIIT versus steady-state cardio to determine which is right for you.
What Is HIIT?
HIIT workouts involve short periods of time exercising at maximum effort followed by short periods of exercising at low to medium effort. HIIT workouts are very short and to the point. I wrote two popular blog posts on HIIT workouts you can use: HIIT Workout Emphasizing Glutes-Stair Step Machine, and HIIT Cardio Workout Emphasizing Quads and Hamstrings:
What Is Steady State Cardio?
Steady-state cardio is where you perform and exercise continuously and at the same effort. This cardio method is low-impact and usually takes substantially longer to complete. Common exercises that you will see used with steady state cardio would be jogging, swimming, biking, and rowing.
HIIT Cardio Benefits
When performing HIIT workouts, you can expect to see reduced body fat, improvements in your libido, increased energy, and metabolism improvements. There is also the added cardiovascular benefit of eliciting excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
EPOC is your body’s way of replenishing energy supplies after a hard workout such as HIIT. While performing HIIT workouts, EPOC continues for several hours after you finish. This means that even after you’re done with your workout, your body continues to burn calories.
Steady State Cardio Benefits
While HIIT provides some serious cardio benefits, this isn’t to say that going for a nice run has no benefits as well. Steady-state cardio will still burn calories, lower bodyweight, and improve your overall aerobic fitness.
HIIT vs. Steady State Cardio
It may seem like HIIT would clearly be your winner, but there are some other factors to consider. Steady state cardio is may be better suited for someone with knee or back issues due to being performed at a much lower intensity.
Overall, the edge goes to HIIT. There are two main benefits that HIIT has over steady-state cardio:
Time Efficiency– HIIT can be completed in as little as 4-15 minutes. This leaves a lot of extra time in your day to complete other tasks. It also gets rid of the most common reason for not exercising—not having enough time.
Breaks Up The Monotony– When compared to steady-state cardio, HIIT is much more exciting. You don’t have to do 1 exercise at the same speed. With HIIT you will be able to perform 4, 6, or even 10 different movements during your workouts.
[box type=”shadow” ]A study by Gibala et al found that 2 1/2 hours of HIIT produced similar biochemical muscle changes as did 10 1/2 hours of steady-state cardio, and that it produced similar endurance performance benefits. [/box]
Let the results of the above study sink in: 10 1/2 hours of benefit from only 2 1/2 hours of cardio work. In fact, imagine getting that ratio (greater than 76% savings) of time spent-to-benefit in any aspect of your life!
While both methods of cardio vascular training are beneficial, HIIT workouts provide you with more variety, they’re faster, and you will burn calories long after completion. This would make it seem that HIIT is the way to go.
I have created some free HIIT workout music that allows you to focus on your workout and NOT watch a clock:
As always, I encourage you to be a part of the conversation by sharing and/or commenting.
Good Health is the Greatest Wealth.
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Tech Tip from Web By Webb:
- Livestrong.com A List Of Benefits of Cardiovascular Endurance
- Gaiam.com What Is Steady State Cardio?
- DrAxe.com Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Self.com How High-Intensity Interval Training Can Maximize Your Calorie Burn
- MensFitness.com 3 Tips for Maxing Out A HIIT Workout
- Bodybuilding.com Going Steady: 5 Reasons To Do Steady-State Cardio
- The Journal of Physiology Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease