Intervals or Steady State Cardio? – James Alexander-Ellis Fitness
Intervals or Steady State Cardio?

Intervals or Steady State Cardio?

When deciding on an exercise plan or program, how do you decide between high intensity interval training and steady state cardio training? It all depends on you, your lifestyle, and what your end goals are. Read the following summaries to help you choose.

Steady state cardio training: Steady state cardio training involves long periods of low to moderate intensity exercise, such as a ten kilometre run or 20-60mins on the treadmill. It places lower stress on the body and joints, and as such has short recovery times – you can do it daily without over-stressing your body.

There is evidence suggesting that low intensity training can actually aid in recovery by increasing the blood flow to damaged muscle tissue. This means that it can be incorporated into a workout program between high intensity sessions as a more relaxing and calm form of exercise. There is evidence that too much high intensity and weight training can lead to muscle mass loss, especially if combined with a diet that is Hypocaloric. Slower, steady state cardio training may avoid this effect, as it is much less physically taxing, and takes a much smaller toll on the body.

However, some people just aren’t ready to commit to hours in the gym every week or to a taxing, time consuming exercise program. If you are one of these people, then high intensity interval training is probably perfect for you...

High intensity interval training: High intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short periods of high power bursts of activity with short rests in between, such as a sprint session or short gym workout. HIIT sessions usually last for up to twenty minutes, and place a huge load on the body.

HIIT is often touted as the best kind of exercise for weight loss because of the large numbers of calories that it burns. Not only does the high intensity of the workout session burn a lot of calories, but it also raises your resting metabolic rate. The effects of the session will be felt for some time after you finish the session due to something known as EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC means that your body will continue to burn calories faster than your resting metabolic rate for some time after the workout. (Think of it as the calories and fat stores that are used up for the recovery process)

HIIT is generally not used by beginners, due to the huge demands it places on the body. In order to receive all of the benefits of HIIT, you must perform the workout at 110% - this hurts. HIIT sessions should only be completed around 2-4 times per week. This, combined with the short length of the session, makes it a perfect form of training for people with a full schedule who have little time to put into the gym.