Cardio for Fat Loss Vs High Intensity

posted Mar 30, 2014, 2:04 PM by Rebecca Smith   [ updated Mar 30, 2014, 2:04 PM ]
Which is better?

Being in the fitness industry a question I get asked frequently is ‘which is better for fat loss, steady state cardio or HIIT?’ Let me start by explaining both methods.

Steady state cardio refers to training with a low-moderate intensity for long periods of time. E.g Jogging on the treadmill at a constant speed for 60mins.

HIIT refers to training at a very high intensity for a short burst, followed up by low-moderate intensity to recover before repeating again. E.g sprinting for 30s and then jogging at a slow pace for 3-4mins to recover, repeat 10-15 times.

So which is better? The winner is HIIT hands down. For a fat loss goal you need to consider caloric expenditure, i.e calories in vs calories out. When training SSC, you are only burning calories at the time of your workout, once you stop working out, you stop burning calories. The difference with HIIT is that your metabolism is increased for hours after your workout, resulting in continued calorie burning. So whereas SSC may burn more calories at the time, over a 24hr period HIIT will burn more overall. Science has proven that HIIT may elevate your metabolism for up to 48hrs post workout.

Another great benefit of HIIT over SSC is that it takes much less time to get through a session. Many people are jogging on a treadmill for hours on end during the week, but with HIIT each session should take between 15-30mins to complete. In a time poor world, this is a big plus.

So why do you still see people doing long periods of SSC in gyms all over the world? The simple answer, HIIT is brutally hard. You must treat every sprint as if it was your last. Pretend you are a 100m sprinter, when that gun goes off, you run with everything you got in the tank. This is the intensity you must train with when doing HIIT. Anything less and you are shortchanging yourself. If you are new to this type of training, I recommend building up your fitness first before attempting it. This is not for beginners, it’s more for those who have a decent level of fitness and have been training for at least 3 months.

So next time you’re in the gym, give HIIT a shot, you will be amazed at the results you can achieve in a much shorter time than SSC.   Your Personal Trainer can help you to get the most out of your session by varying the HIIT training that you do ensuring you always get the best results.  An Example of HIIT session;

Warm up on whatever piece of cardio equipment you will be using for 5 minutes.
Sprint for 30s, bring the pace back down to a slow jog for 2-3 minutes, Repeat that process for 10 sprints.
Cool down for as long as you need to recover.

Author PT James
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