Whether you are looking to lose fat, increase fitness, or achieve any other personal goal, you will probably be familiar with the two main methods of completing cardio in the gym. High Intensity Interval Training and Low Intensity Steady State divide the fitness world. Every person is, however, an individual case study. When deciding which one might be best for you, there are several factors to take into account. Below, we have given the main pros and cons of each to assist the decision making process!
High Intensity Interval Cardio (HIIT) combines short bursts of high intensity exercise with lower intensity recovery periods to recruit both aerobic and anaerobic systems. It causes heart rate to skyrocket, burns calories in a short period of time and can improve body composition by building muscle and causing the body to burn more fat even after the workout has ended. Examples include; sprints or some exercise classes.
Better cardiovascular benefits. HIIT pushes heart rate up much higher than LISS ever will in the working periods. This can be more effective to increase fitness levels. Implementing HIIT into your routine will quickly have you seeing benefits such as; lower resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure and being able to push yourself much harder in sessions.
You can get a lot of work done in a short time. An effective HIIT session might only last 10 minutes, as you are pushing yourself to maximal effort. By the end of an 'on' interval, you should feel that you could not possibly have given anymore. This is extremely rewarding and useful for anyone with a busy schedule. In contrast, 40 minutes of steady state walking on a treadmill might barely have you breaking a sweat.
Difficult to recover. HIIT is probably not the best option if dieting or prioritising strength training. This is because, it is so demanding to the anaerobic system, the recovery process is similar to that of a weight session. If HIIT causes serious leg DOMS and you are following a programme to increase your squat max... it will probably have to go. This comes down to what your goals for your training are. If you are an all-rounder, it is possible to do both.
Low Intensity Steady State cardio is performed for a longer duration at a constant maintainable level. Examples include; uphill power walking and the crosstrainer.
Easy to recover. Unless you are doing 40k steps a day, you shouldn't be too fatigued from your LISS sessions. Therefore, it will have less carry over into lifting while still having many health benefits such as; increased blood flow and burning calories.
Requires less motivation. It is much easier after a long day to motivate yourself to power walk than it is to do all out sprints. Planning cardio that you are likely to do will always be superior to cardio that you would rather skip. You can also use the time that you are doing LISS to watch youtube videos or check emails, whereas HIIT requires complete focus and intent.
Takes a long time. Achieving the same calorie burn as HIIT takes much longer when doing LISS cardio. This can make it difficult to fit into your day, especially if you are already struggling to free up an hour of the day for a weights session. As you adapt to the sessions, duration has to continue to increase to break past plateus, whereas HIIT can stay the same length but be done at a higher level.
In conclusion, ideally you will incorporate a combination of both to tap into different energy systems and balance endurance and strength to become the best athlete you can be, proving you are not training for a specific event, such as a powerlifting meet or a marathon.
Consume PhD Intra BCAA during your cardio for natural electrolytes from coconut water to keep you hydrated and increased energy without stimulants.