Exercise is a critical component of any weight loss regime and when we think of exercise for weight loss, we think of cardio. Cardiovascular exercise is incredibly beneficial for the heart. In fact, the word ‘cardio’ is derived from the Ancient Greek word ‘Kardia’ which literally meant ‘heart’. Lately, more and more people have been performing HIIT as part of their cardio workouts, but is HIIT more beneficial than steady-state? That’s what we’re going to attempt to find out right now.
What is HIIT ?
HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is a form of training in which individuals alternate between periods of slow and steady exercise and fast-paced high-intensity exercise. The individual performing the workout will perform a short burst of slow and steady exercise, following by high-intensity fast-paced bursts of energy for a number of different rounds. A typical HIIT workout is over in far less time than a steady-state cardio workout, as it typically lasts just 15 – 30 minutes on average.
Benefits of HIIT
HIIT workouts are over in no more than 30 minutes on average. In fact, the average workout lasts just 20 minutes. During this time, you can burn off as many calories as you would with a one-hour steady-state cardio session.
Just because HIIT workouts are over quickly that doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective. HIIT workouts are incredibly physically demanding and in just 20 minutes you can potentially burn off more than 400 calories. Not only that, but because it is so physically demanding, your metabolism increases after the exercise are complete and you burn off more calories than usual, even whilst in a rested state. This is known as the afterburn effect.
Keeps things interesting
We wouldn’t exactly call HIIT workouts fun unless you’re a sadist, but we would say that they keep things interesting. A typical steady-state cardio workout performed on a treadmill is boring. You’re literally going at the same pace, looking at the same view for close to an hour. With HIIT, you’re constantly changing the workout, so things stay fresh and exciting.
Sample HIIT workout
• After warming up, get onto a treadmill, set it to a very slow pace, and walk for 60 seconds.
• Now, increase the speed and sprint as fast as you can for 40 seconds.
• Turn the speed to low, walk for 60 seconds, and repeat for as many rounds as you can fit in in the space of 20 minutes.
What is steady-state cardio?
Steady-state cardio is basically a continuous cardio-based workout performed at a moderate speed, for a long duration of time. Typically, a steady-state cardio workout will last 45 – 60 minutes.
Benefits of steady-state cardio
Easier – Steady-state cardio is much easier than HIIT, making it ideal for beginners
Better on the joints – Walking at a steady pace on a treadmill, or outdoors, is much easier on the joints than sprinting on a hard surface.
Burns calories – Steady-state cardio is still cardio, and it is therefore great for people looking to lose weight.
Sample steady-state cardio workout
• After stretching and warming up, either go for a long walk outdoors or jump on a treadmill and walk at a steady pace for around 45 – 60 minutes. It’s that simple.
Well, that’s an overview of cardio training and the difference between high-intensity intervals and steady-state cardio. In the next part, we will look at ramping up your exercise efforts and add resistance training into your weight loss plan.