There are two types of cardio that pretty much everyone does when they are trying to get into shape: steady state cardio and high intensity interval training (HIIT). So, what is the difference between the two and how do you know which one is best for you?
Let’s start with the difference between the two. Steady state cardio is when you are performing a low to medium intensity cardiovascular activity at a continuous pace for a period of time. An example of this could be walking on the treadmill or going for a jog for 30 minutes, at the same pace. HIIT cardio is when you perform a burst of cardiovascular activity at a very high intensity for a short period of time, followed by a period of rest, and then back into the short duration high intensity, then back to rest, etc. An example of HIIT is sprinting on the treadmill for 20 seconds, then jumping onto the sides and resting for 40 seconds, and repeating this throughout your workout.
There are a few questions you should ask yourself when determining your cardio regimen. What are your goals and which kind of cardio will help you best reach those goals? How much time do you have in your day to dedicate to cardio? What is your fitness level and your physical ability to perform these exercises? Answering these questions will help you create a cardio routine that works for your lifestyle and will also help you reach your goals.
The truth is that both types of cardio are beneficial. Doing steady state cardio allows you to maintain muscle mass, while still burning calories (Bodybulding.com, 2016). Recovery from steady state cardio is faster because you are not putting as much stress on your body, so you can do it more often then HIIT (Bodybuilding.com, 2016). Lastly, steady state cardio allows you to build your endurance, since you will be completing a lower intensity workout over a longer period of time. HIIT cardio, on the other hand, burns a large amount of calories over a shorter period of time AND you continue to burn calories even after you are done with your workout (American College of Sports Medicine, 2014). HIIT cardio takes less time to complete than steady state and it increases your heart health, metabolism, and fat loss.
If you are short on time, looking to burn a lot of calories, and looking for a challenge, then HIIT cardio is right up your alley! Even though HIIT sounds like it is only for really active people, HIIT can be tailored to anyone’s fitness levels. If your goals are to build your endurance or maintain muscle while still continuing to lean out, steady state will be good to incorporate into your routine. Creating a cardio schedule that has a little of both types can give you the best of both worlds. Most importantly, remember to stay safe and listen to your body when performing either of these two workouts.
STAY TUNED – Make sure to check out my February blog posts! I will be focusing in depth on each of these methods of cardio to help you achieve your best results!
Bodybuilding.com. (2016). www.bodybuilding.com
American College of Sports Medicine. (2014). High intensity interval training. Download