Steady State Cardio vs. High Intensity Interval Training Cardio


Steady State Cardio vs. High Intensity Interval Training Cardio

K-11Cardio is important when working towards meeting your weight loss goals, but the way you do cardio will play a significant role in how much fat you burn and how quickly you lose it.  The two types of cardio most commonly performed by people looking to lose weight are steady state cardio and high intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio.

Steady State Cardio

Steady state cardio is cardio that is performed at a steady pace which consists of a low to moderate amount of intensity.  During steady state cardio the maximum heart rate at a low intensity is less than 65% of the maximum heart rate burning 5 calories per minute and moderate intensity is 65-85% of the maximum heart rate burning about 10 calories per minute.  The benefits of doing steady state cardio are it builds cardiovascular endurance and is a good start when beginning a fitness program.  It can also be beneficial to add after a strenuous workout with weights because there is an increase in blood flow to the muscles which helps in the recovery process.  The downside to steady state cardio is too much of it, such as long distance running, puts a lot of stress on the joints which can lead to injuries from overuse.  Excessive amounts of time spent doing steady state cardio can also breakdown muscle leading to decreased muscle mass and interfere with fat loss.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Cardio

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Cardio is exactly what the name says.  It is cardio that is done at a very high intensity for a short interval of time with a rest period in between.  During HIIT cardio the maximum heart rate is higher than 85% and burns 15 calories per minute.  HIIT cardio should only be done for a short period of time due to the intensity.  The benefits of HIIT cardio are it can increase muscle mass due to the fact that HIIT activates muscle fibers which can lead to muscle growth.  Performing HIIT creates something called excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC) which increases the rate of oxygen intake.  This causes the body to continue to burn calories even after the workout is over making the body more efficient at burning fat.  The downside to HIIT cardio is doing this type of cardio too many days in a row can negatively impact strength training by interfering with muscle growth.  For someone just starting a strength training and cardio program, HIIT may be too difficult and could possibly lead to injuries.  It also requires intense effort during the intervals, so unless you’re willing to push yourself to maximum exertion you may not see the results.

So which cardio should you incorporate into your fitness program?  Instead of taking an all or nothing approach, both types of cardio can be incorporated into a strength training and weight loss program.  Because HIIT should not be performed every day, steady state cardio can be incorporated in between.  It may also be wise for beginners to start with steady state cardio and slowly incorporate HIIT cardio as their fitness level increases.

For more information about high intensity interval training cardio vs. steady state cardio, weight training, and eating right, or if you’ve been thinking about hiring a personal trainer, contact us.


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