High Intensity Interval Training / HIIT or Old School, steady cardio. Which is Better?

We hear about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) a lot lately.  I have really bought into a lot of the benefits that have been touted about HIIT the last 10 years.  Lately I’ve been studying more in depth about both of them.

I only do two days a week of exclusive cardio training.  I lift 4 days a week, with some light cardio and take Sundays off.

The reason there is so much hype about HIIT is because it’s supposed to burn more calories in less time and it’s supposed to burn more calories throughout the day after you are finished.

HIIT was even ranked as the number one fitness trend based on a survey of over 4,000 fitness professionals in 2018.

The concept of HIIT is to go for 1 to 3 minutes as hard as possible and getting your heart rate as close to the maximum as you can.  Then rest for 1 to 2 minutes before busting out another killer few minutes.  I really like this because it breaks up the monotony, and it’s pretty brutal.  Like I’ve said, there is something therapeutic to me about extreme physical effort.

Traditional cardio (steady-state) is when you just hit the road, the bike, a treadmill or whatever and get your heart rate up to about 50-60% of your max and go for at least 45 minutes.

You can actually have a conversation while jogging in steady-state cardio, but during HIIT, you are either in the middle of a brutal set of max effort or huffing and puffing, trying to recover and get ready for the next set.

Another difference between the two is that HIIT uses more of your fast twitch muscle fibers.  Steady state relies more on slow twitch muscles, which are more useful for long, endurance situations.  This is why sprinters usually look more muscular than distance runners.  Sprinters need strong explosive muscles, and long distance athletes need thin, easy to carry, type muscles.

So which one burns more fat?

There have been numerous studies on this subject, because for most people, this is usually the reason they are exercising in the first place.

In one study, one group of women did HIIT, another did Steady State Cardio, and a third group just sat around like most Americans and did nothing.

This study showed that the HIIT group lost about the same amount of fat as the Steady State group, but the HIIT group only averaged about 36 minutes per session and the Steady State group averaged about 68 minutes per session.  However, both groups lost a significant amount of fat in the short, 1 month study.

Numerous additional studies I looked at showed similar results.

The studies also found that the HIIT group did burn more calories throughout the day, but it wasn’t as significant as I was expecting.  On average, it only burns about 180 additional calories per day.

After studying everything, this is what I would say about these different forms of cardio.  HIIT for sure burns more calories, in less time.  However, it has a far greater impact on the joints.  So in my opinion, I think the best way to burn fat is through weight training.  And as far as heart health, both forms of cardio are great.  If your body feels fresh and up to it, a HIIT session has tons of benefits for your heart and building lean muscle.  However, if your knees, hips or back are a bit sore, a nice long hike is a great way to burn a lot of calories and increase heart health without the wear and tear on your joints.  Lately, I like to do a mixture.  Hopefully this helps.  The bottom line is that any exercise is way better for you than doing nothing.

So get out and move your body.  Every day you are healthy enough to exercise is a blessing!  Nanohydr8 has been shown to have tremendous benefits for HIIT workouts, Steady State Cardio and weight training.  So use your Nanohydr8 before any exercise and make it that much more effective!