Are you that lifter skipping their weekly cardio session? If so, then snap out of it right now! Weekly cardio sessions have so many benefits, including making you a better weight lifter.However, which cardio exercise is the best for you? Two of the most popular and best of all the cardio workouts are HIIT and steady-state cardio.
To help you decide which one is best for you, we are sharing everything you need to know about HIIT and steady-state cardio. After this, you will get back on the cardio train!
Do you fully understand what HIIT and steady-state cardio are? Before diving into which one is better for you, you should understand the primary differences between the two workout methods. Let's break things down a bit before going any further:
First off, HIIT is short for high-intensity interval training. It involves doing intervals of short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by even shorter rest periods. You can do either resistance exercises or cardiovascular exercises. Even better, you can put together a complete HIIT session that incorporates both types of exercise.
Most HIIT workouts include four to six intervals. Each interval involves a different exercise. You do the interval four times, then move on to the next one.
Moreover, here is what a typical HIIT workout looks like:
You can exercise for a longer period of time by tacking on extra intervals or increasing the length of your exercise bursts by ten seconds. However, HIIT is a very effective workout method, so you don’t need to spend an endless amount of time doing it to see results.
Second, steady-state cardio is more straightforward than HIIT is. Steady-state is doing any cardio exercise at a steady, low-intensity pace for a continuous period of time.
For example, traditional cardio exercises, including jogging and biking on a flat road, are typical steady-state workouts. Moreover, any aerobic exercise done at a single low to moderate-intensity pace constitutes a steady-state workout.
While HIIT and steady-state are structured very differently, they do have some of the same benefits.
Here are some of the benefits that they share:
- Reducing your chances of getting life-threatening diseases
- Alleviating mental health issues, including anxiety and depression
- Helping you feel and look better from the inside out
Regardless of whether you do HIIT or steady-state cardio, we just want you to do something! In the end, any exercise is better than no exercise. Therefore, pick whichever exercise that not only gives you the most benefits but you are also likely to enjoy! Enjoying your workout routine increases the odds that you stick to it and reap the health benefits.
Are high-intensity workouts your thing? If they are, then you are probably already a HIIT fanatic. However, if you are into lower-intensity cardio workouts or are unfamiliar with HIIT but like higher-intensity workouts, we highly suggest giving it a try!
There are so many excellent benefits to HIIT that the odds are that it can help you achieve at least one of your fitness goals.
Without further ado, here are the top benefits of HIIT:
Steady-state cardio exercises like jogging have been staple cardio exercises for years. Part of the reason they have stuck around for so long is because they have so many benefits. Like HIIT, we could spend a long time going over each of the benefits of steady-state cardio. However, to keep things simple, we are sharing the top benefits of the classic workout method.
Here are the top benefits of steady-state cardio:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- Better bone, joint, and brain health
- Increased daily functional capacities
- Greater energy levels
The next time you sit down to create fitness goals, make improving your aerobic endurance be one of them!
Despite the pros of HIIT, there are some cons that are worth mentioning. Perhaps the most prominent one is that HIIT impedes muscle recovery.Unlike steady-state cardio, HIIT workouts take a huge toll on your muscles. It breaks down the muscle fibers to a point where they take a significant amount of time to repair.
While having broken down fibers can help stimulate muscle growth, it can set you back on your next workout. Like we mentioned above, if your muscles fibers do not fully recover before your next workout, they could get injured to a point beyond what your body can repair.
Therefore, if you do a HIIT workout, you will need to wait at least one to two days before working out again. Otherwise, your muscle fibers won't have enough time to repair and could get injured. Also, total newbies to HIIT might need a personal trainer to get started. Knowing what exercises to do and in what order can be a challenging task.
A personal trainer could help you organize a proper HIIT workout, but not everybody has access to one. Moreover, the most effective HIIT workout isn't as accessible as other cardio workouts, such as steady-state cardio.
Like HIIT, steady-state cardio also comes with some negative downsides. The most prominent one is that steady-state cardio is not nearly as efficient at burning calories as HIIT. Imagine going on a long steady-state jog at a lower intensity. While it is not the most intense run, it is still challenging.
You finish up your run and look down at your FitBit to see how many calories you burned. You are shocked to see that the number on your FitBit is significantly lower than what you thought it would be. Considering that the run was challenging and you went for a long time, you thought that you would burn way more calories.
Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar occurrence for many people. If you are trying to burn a lot of calories, steady-state cardio can do the job. However, it does not burn as much as other workout methods like HIIT. This is because steady-state cardio is oxygen-inefficient.
Unlike HIIT, steady-state cardio elevates your heart rate above its resting level, then keeps it at the same level for the duration of your workout. During that time, you do burn a lot of calories because your increasing heart rate increases your metabolic rate.
However, once you finish exercising, your heart rate and, resultantly, your metabolic rate restore to normal levels within a short period of time.Given that your heart rate stays steady throughout the workout, it has an easier time restoring back to a normal rate.
Therefore, you don’t burn as many calories both during and after your workout.So, if you want to do a cardio workout that burns calories, steady-state cardio is definitely worth doing. However, if you want to burn themost amount of calories, don’t do steady-state.
You now have all of the information you need to decide on either HIIT or steady-state cardio! Regardless of which one you choose, our mission is simply for you to pick one and stick to it.
Both HIIT and steady-state have their own respective pros and cons, but what’s most important is that you choose the one that is best for you. If you don’t like one of the methods even though it has many positive benefits, opt for the other method!
The bottom line is that you should pick the one that is best for you, then go as hard at it as you can to continue becoming your best self!
Bonus tip: Is steady-state cardio the right method for you? If so, check out our top 10 strengthening exercises for runners to get faster sooner!