As I sit here writing this I want to make it clear that any type of cardio, high intensity, low intensity or any intensity for that matter is only a tool that should be used for fat loss when everything else is in place. When nutrition and resistance training are 100%.
Nothing will achieve fat loss greater than if your nutrition is on point, and you train your butt off during strength training with weights. (And no girls you will not end up looking like the hulk with a wig on if you lift weights, believe me I’ve been trying for 9 years and I’m still trying to resemble the green man.) This will give you a greater result than any type of long distance running, or walking and chatting away on a treadmill while reading OK! magazine.
Now that’s not to say low intensity cardio is not effective I just tend to edge to HITT as being more effective, and I suppose I should explain why:
HIIT (high intensity interval training) vs LISS (low intensity steady state)
So what is HIIT and LISS? Well HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. This is where you perform short bursts of 100% effort, followed by longer bursts of rest, bringing your heart rate back down before you are ready to hit 100% again. An example of this would be hill sprints for 10-15 seconds followed by a minute rest, then another 10-15 second hill sprint, for say 8-10 rounds. You should not be able to talk or do anything after these 100% bursts apart from concentrate on getting your heart rate down ready for the next round. It’s called high intensity for a reason, it hurts!
LISS cardio stands for low intensity steady state cardio. This is what you would expect from typical jogging or fast walking. It consists of 30 minutes to 1 hour sessions on a treadmill, bike or cross trainer at a slow to medium pace.
“Now the question is which is best and which one should I use?”
You will consistently see debated over the internet as to which is the best and in my opinion for overall body composition and fat loss HIIT is the superior choice.
To begin, HIIT tends to be more convenient time wise. You can blast out a good HIIT session in under 15 minutes. One of my favourites is on the bike 15 seconds all out sprint, then 45 second rest, repeat 10 times and job done. Where as LISS tends to be 45 minutes plus. An example would be 45 minutes on a treadmill at a steady, slow-ish pace. (Boring). Now I know with one I would rather do.
It’s a scientific fact that the more lean body mass you have the better your metabolism will work and in turn you will burn fat easier and stay leaner. When you perform LISS cardio which is aerobic exercise, you are only actually burning calories while you are performing that type of cardio. So let’s just say 30 minutes you may burn 200kcal, when you think about it realistically you could have just done that by reducing your carbs or fats slightly. When you perform HIIT that is an anaerobic exercise, you release ATP, which is a burst of energy that gets released into the muscles when contracted. The same way it does when you perform weightlifting. Basically doing HIIT is using the same energy source and recruiting muscle fibres in the same way as strength training does.
When you continue to do LISS your body becomes very adaptive to this type of training and in time you will need more and more and more to keep attaining fat loss. Ever wonder why at first when you start running (jogging) for those first few weeks the weight will drop off you, then all of a sudden BOOM! It just stops. Your body becomes used to this type of training very quickly, and everyone who runs 10 miles for fun then wonders why they are no longer losing any more weight.
I’m not knocking long distance running, I’m looking at this purely as a form of fat loss. – Think of it this way, if you’re running ten miles now, how many miles are you going to have to run 8 weeks from now to keep up the weight loss. It makes no sense to keep making your workouts longer and longer to achieve desired results. HIIT has been shown in studies to keep more muscle retention, where LISS has been shown to cause muscle loss. It’s no secret that the more muscle you have, the better metabolic rate you will have, and in turn this will make you leaner. So if you choose LISS, let’s say slow jogging, then yes you will achieve weight loss. “Weight loss” being the keywords here. Not just fat loss. You are also at risk of losing muscle, which is not ideal in my opinion. If you choose HIIT, let’s say hill sprints. You will attain that lean muscular look. During sprints your body will use hip flextion and knee flextion to do this, a very similar motor movement to a squat which is a weight lifting move. You’re recruiting muscle fibres while burning calories, it’s a win win situation.
I tend to use both with people I help in their training plans, depending on which way their nutrition is set up. But I will always lean towards HIIT as my go-to when introducing cardio into anyone’s plan. Now you will always get debates over the Internet as to which is superior, but my argument is to look at the composition of a sprinters body in comparison to a marathon runners. It comes down to preference and goals in the end but if you’re looking for that balance of a lean and toned physique, HIIT is the way to go.
– LA x