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Well when it comes to cardio there seems to be, not exclusively, but there does seem to be two camps. You either love it our you hate it. Now that goes hand in hand probably with the reasons why you are engaged in a cardio activity. Because let's be honest . . . if you are out have a great time at the beach swimming, playing & having one of your best days ever, you hardly think twice about the amount of cardio you are actually getting. So when it comes to cardio & specifically when it comes to cardio for the purpose of getting into a better state of health & fitness or to lose fat which cardio exercises & regimes are the best to adopt? Well . . . lets look at the pro's & cons of both the ever popular HIIT interval training & traditional steady state cardio to see if in fact one is better than the other or, as is with a lot of things, it depends on "you."
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First of all what is the difference between HIIT & steady state cardio. Well steady state cardio is a steady & continuos effort of physical activity at a fixed intensity that lasts anywhere from about 15 minutes to an hour. Now that is an approximation on the time; the point is that it is steady & at fixed intensity for a set time. Now HIIT on the other hand is a type of interval training where very intense & short burst of activity, for example 30 seconds, are interrupted with a bit longer periods of moderate activity recovery time, for example 90 seconds, & which is repeated for a certain number of cycles. For instance 25 seconds of sprinting uphill followed immediately by a moderate jog downhill, followed immediately by a 20 second uphill sprint again . . . & this being repeated for a total of 7 times.
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So which is better? Well perhaps instead of looking at whether or if one is better lets look at what both has to offer & you decide what you think will give you the results you are wanting to achieve. You may choose one, however you may also choose to mix it up & adopt a cardio routine that uses both methods.
When it comes to steady state cardio it is pretty simple. Perform your activity at about 60-70 percent of your maximum capacity for at least 20 minutes. This will keep you in the "fat burning zone" & hey . . . we love the sound of that! But keep in mind, if you are relying on steady state cardio to lose fat you will need to perform more than 20 minutes & you will need to increase your intensity as your develop greater cardiovascular endurance & strength & are able to do more for longer. Remember that when we adopt a new exercise regime, our bodies will adjust & that is a great thing because it means we are making progress, however in order to continue getting results we need to "switch it up" & force our body to work at little harder & therefore burn more of that unwanted fat.
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Now HIIT has brought with it the awareness that in order to get lean or lose fat we do not have to do hours upon hours of cardio. That's good news for those of us who do not have hours & hours of time for our exercise routines & fitness goals. In doing some research we found a lot of information that supported the overwhelming benefits of HIIT supporting quicker fat loss than that of steady state cardio. One study imparticular was done a the University of Laval in Quebec in Canada (1994) & researchers there found that HIIT was nine times more effective in fat loss than steady state cardio. NOW WAIT! Before you all go giving up your steady state cardio . . . let's think about this a minute or two.
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There are a few things to consider when starting any new exercise plan, no matter what that is. Are there any medical reasons why you should be choosing one type of cardio over another? Do you have a chronic injury that flares up more when doing one type of activity over another? What kind of time do you have to commit to doing cardio each week? Also . . . is cardio something of an "active family play time" that you enjoy with your children? We are not going to push or promote one form over another here because we believe that exercising in & of itself is a great thing & you doing what you need to & want to do to feel great & be in the best shape of your life is what we support.
Skinny Running Tank; www.theworkoutprincess.com
So how about this? How about giving each of them a try for a week or two? Or try a combo of both for a couple weeks. The bottom line is find something that you ENJOY . . . because if you are enjoying it, then the chances that you are going to stick with it are much much greater!
by Tonya Fines . . . Mum, Wife, Nutrition Counsellor, Lifestyle Blogger