The Truth About Steady-State Cardio Vs. HIIT Workout

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Cardio Vs. HIIT Workout

This whole working out and living healthy has skyrocketed on a whole different level in the past couple years. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon because someone else is doing it. While this is an amazing thing, if you are not fully educated you might hurt yourself in the long run.

Most of us do long steady state cardio when trying to lose weight. Is that the only way? Let’s find out.

What is Cardio, and why is it necessary? 

Before we get into the details, let’s define cardio itself. Cardio is any form of exercise that raises your heart rate. They include jogging, biking, running, sprinting, cycling, swimming, and much more. Cardio helps with an increase in cardiac muscle mass, increases the diffusion rate of oxygen into other organs and muscle, increases fat oxidation, and eliminates diseases.

Types of Cardio

Steady-state Cardio

Steady-state cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is performed on an average of 70% heart rate for 30 min or more. These types of exercise are performed with the presence of oxygen in your body. This simply means, when you are working out at around 70% of your max heart rate, you can breathe in and out easily. Thus, providing enough oxygen to your heart and organs with an increased heart rate.

Aerobic exercises are fuel mostly by fat. You burn your stored fat as a source of energy in the presence of oxygen. This is why people always end up doing long cardio to lose weight. Did you know this? If not, now you know.

Types of Steady-state cardio

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling 
  • Dancing
  • Anything that raises your heart rate to 70%

Benefits of Aerobic exercise

  • Uses fat for fuel so it helps burn stored fat
  • Keeps your cardiovascular system in check
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Increases metabolism

 Disadvantage of an Aerobic exercise

  • If it’s done rigorously, you may put pressure on your joints. This generally applies to someone who does hours and hours of aerobic exercise in a day.
  • An excessive amount of aerobic exercise may cause muscle loss.
  • You won’t be able to gain strengths and muscles through aerobic exercise.

High-Intensity Interval training (HIIT)

HIIT is also known as an anaerobic exercise. It’s a split interval exercise where you give your max for 5sec-8min, then rest for couple minutes and get back to it again for several repetitions. They are called an anaerobic exercise because they are performed in an absence of oxygen at 90-95% max heart rate. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Simply put, you are maximizing your heart rate during a workout, so you can’t provide enough oxygen throughout the body.

Anaerobic exercises are fueled by stored glycogen (the simplest form of carbs). While you are working out at your maximum potential, your body uses carb as an energy source. During your rest period (in between your sets) your heart rate is still elevated but not maxed out, thus, your body uses stored fat as energy. Plus, even after several hours your metabolism is still elevated because of exercise muscles’ demand for oxygen flow. Therefore, you burn more body fat during this time compare to after effect of steady-state cardio. This is why HIIT is very beneficial at burning fat.

Types of Interval training

 You can combine any types of bodyweight exercise for interval training, but I have listed some here for you to get started.

  • Sprinting – slow pace running for 10 min at the beginning then sprint as fast as you can, giving your 120% for 30sec to 1 min. Walk or run slowly for 1 min, then repeat the same process for at least 5 to 6 times.
  • Burpee – give it all you got for 1 min, rest for a min, then repeat for at least 6 to 7 times
  • Jump squats – give it all you got for 1 min, rest for a min, then repeat for at least 6 to 7 times

Benefits of HIIT

  • Much more effective in burning fat because of after effect. Your metabolism stays elevated for several hours to even a day so you burn more body fat after you workout
  • Keeps your cardiovascular system in check
  • Preserves muscle mass
  • Short duration workouts
  • Increases metabolic flexibility – ability to burn fat before, at rest, and after workout and ability to burn carbohydrates during exercise becomes smoother.

Disadvantage of HIIT

  • If you are new to it, you have to start out slow as you might get injured.
  • Heavy lifters might want to consider slow pace cardio to give their muscle rest.
  • Extensive work with less rest will not help muscle growth. 

What activity should you focus on the most?

This comes down to what you like to do. If you don’t like what you are doing then chances are you will not stick with it. If you enjoy a long run, then go for it. On the other hand, if you want to get it over with, then do interval training. I think balance is the key here. I would consider mixing them both so that my body gets to recover from time to time.

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Susan Adhikari is a certified personal trainer and a nutritionist who is on a mission to help young women become stronger and confident through wholesome food and exercise. She believes on accepting who you are while trying to be a better version of yourself. She can usually be found over at her website Susan's Fitness or supporting her members on her Facebook community.

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