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HIIT VS. STEADY STATE CARDIO - WHICH TYPE IS BETTER FOR YOU?

HIIT VS. STEADY STATE CARDIO - WHICH TYPE IS BETTER FOR YOU?

We all know cardio is vital for a healthy and well-functioning body and life. 

But...what type of cardio should you be doing? 

Well, let’s break it down into the two forms of cardio that are most known; 

HIIT and Steady State Cardio or also known as; Anaerobic and Aerobic.

 

WHAT IS ANAEROBIC AND AEROBIC?

Not to get into a full science lesson, but…. to fully understand the difference between HIIT and Steady State Cardio, we need to break it down.

To start, Aerobic means WITH oxygen & Anaerobic means WITHOUT oxygen. 

Aerobic is what our bodies are most familiar with. Every second of the day we breathe in oxygen….repeatedly, without even having to think about it. 

How cool, right?!

You breathe in oxygen, your body then uses that oxygen to produce energy, and then waste is expelled as carbon dioxide.

Anaerobic, on the other hand, is utilized when the body does not have enough oxygen available to produce the energy needed. 

Think back to being a little kid playing tag, if you were like me when you were the tagger, you would lock eyes with the person you wanted to tag and then sprint as fast as possible towards them.

I’m guessing after that sprint you would be…. bent over, hands on knees, trying to catch your breath for a second or two?

That’s anaerobic! 

When you took off to tag that person, your body used a lot of energy to help you sprint, which then made you feel fatigued. This was simply due to your muscles not having enough oxygen. 

This is why you needed a short rest, with a few deep breaths before you were onto the next tagging frenzy.

So, where did that energy come from in the first place?

Well, it comes from our ATP-PC system which consists of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) Phosphocreatine (PC) 

This system provides us with immediate powerful energy for approximately 10-30 seconds through the breakdown of stored high energy phosphates.

Like I said in the beginning….I don’t want to make this feel too much like a science lesson, because our main purpose is to talk about the difference between HIIT and Steady State.

However, I wanted to touch on our ATP-PC system and the amount of time it allows us to perform at maximal effort, because it is a key factor into why HIIT workouts are designed the way they are.

We will delve into the science of our energy systems more in another article! 

 

WHAT IS HIIT?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. 

This style of training/cardio is done in intervals or circuits and the goal is to burn the most fat and calories possible in a short period of time. 

The most important thing to note about a HIIT workout is that it must be done with 100% effort and is Anaerobic!

That means when you are performing an exercise…..you are giving it your ALL, plus some. 

But, when you are resting, you are fully resting.

        An example of HIIT is: 

                 10 Rounds

  • 30 seconds sprinting
  • 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds jump squats
  • 30 second rest 

Remember how we talked about the ATP-PC system and how it can only provide maximal effort for up to 30 seconds before it needs to rest and reset?

Well, that is exactly why a HIIT workout is typically designed with 30 seconds of a high intensity exercise, followed by 10, 20, or 30 seconds of rest. It is to refuel your muscles with oxygen, so that you can perform another set or round with maximal effort.

….Although, after 7 sets of burpees, all lasting for 30 seconds…..what does maximal effort really mean, right? 😉

*As a side note, the 30 seconds your ATP-PC system provides can slightly vary time wise, depending on many different factors from person to person.


SCIENCE OF HIIT TRAINING?

What does science say about HIIT training? Well, it has been proven that individuals who regularly perform HIIT workouts, burn calories when resting at a rate 2x’s higher, than those who perform Steady State Cardio. 

What that means is if you are sitting around at the end of the day watching TV, your body will be burning more calories at rest, than the person who performs Steady State Cardio. 

 

WHAT IS STEADY STATE CARDIO?

Steady State Cardio is when individuals perform exercise over a long period of time at a constant pace or speed. 

You can think of doing the stairmaster, biking, rowing, or of course the most common one, distance running.

 

WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?

When it comes to HIIT and Steady State Cardio both are beneficial for their own reasons.

HIIT PROS

  • Burns More Calories In A Shorter Period Of Time
  • Burns Fat
  • When short on time, HIIT can be a great alternative to still get the same effects, if not better than a longer workout.
  • Helps Build and Maintain Lean Muscle Mass

 

HIIT CONS

  • Overtraining, since HIIT requires a lot of energy to be exerted every time you exercise, you can actually start to damage your muscles and cause too much inflammation in the body….(I have been there before and learned my lesson)
  • Not For Beginners, typically HIIT is not for beginners, simply because it can be hard on the body and can leave someone with overly sore muscles
  • Injuries, HIIT tends to be more challenging in its nature than steady state cardio, so if your muscles are not prepared for what's to come, it can lead to injuries

 

STEADY STATE PROS

  • It Is For EVERYONE. Whether you just started exercising or have been for years, you can do it. If you are new, this is a great way to build endurance and stamina to transition into HIIT training
  • Great For Cardiovascular System
  • Burns Fat. Just like HIIT, Steady State burns calories and fat as well, but in a different manner. HIIT burns more calories at rest, due to the body working harder to recover. Whereas, Steady State mainly burns calories just at the time of performance.

 

STEADY STATE CONS

  • Takes a lot of time and can be boring for some people
  • It Can Waste Away At Your Muscles. If you are overdoing cardio, not eating enough and not strength training…..your muscles will not be able to repair themselves, leading to loss of muscle and less calories burned throughout your day.

 

Overall, there are pros and cons to both HIIT and Steady State Cardio and can vary depending on your individual self and goals, but for the average person who is looking to drop a few pounds and look better….. I recommend performing 2 days of HIIT per week and 3 days of Steady State Cardio to see maximum health and fat burning benefits.

If you are having trouble recovering from workouts, head over to our website by CLICKING HERE to check out our BCAA’s and EAA’s, which will help you to recover at a quicker rate! 

As always, If you have ANY questions, please E-mail us by CLICKING HERE and we’ll be happy to answer any questions!


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