Yes, it’s that dreaded word, the one I’ve come to fear and often hate. The big bad CARDIO, (as I scream profanities CT Fletcher style in my head while reminiscing on times of faster metabolisms and tiny micro stretch gym shorts). You know that style of training many of us detest because it’s often boring as hell and unrewarding as I’ve discussed in previous blogs. However, we all know it’s not completely unless (although unless its sports specific I’d beg to differ), sometimes it allows the weighing scales to be your friend and you might even feel a little healthier and happier but shush we won’t say that too loud or admit it to the cardio bunnies. I still know the iron is the glutes and boulders friend and I don’t really care about anything else. Ass over abs ha-ha.
But if you want the scales to like you a little more and you don’t want to be such a weight on the earth and want to know which is better steady state- SSC or high intensity-HIIT? Well both are convenient, flexible, and safe ways to develop your cardiovascular system and general fitness. They can be carried out pretty much anywhere, with little or no equipment, easily changed and altered to avoid boredom, from running the roads to your bodyweight exercises in front of the TV, you don’t need a lot of coaching to do them. But one thing for sure is SSC and HIIT are very very different.
Steady-state cardio workouts tend to be a lot simpler and less demanding. You perform your activity, like running, at a steady, constant pace, usually about 60 to 70 percent of maximal capacity for 20 minutes or more, aiming for a heart rate of 120 to 150 beats per minute. HIIT workouts are slightly more complicated- you do your activity as hard as you can for a short time at 90 to 100 percent of maximal capacity, from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then back off for a rest interval, usually three minutes or less and repeat the process a number of times. For example, 1 minute of constant burpees and thirty seconds to two minutes rest depending on your capability. Steady-state cardio requires a good oxygen supply and is powered mostly by stored fat. HIIT- while you are performing your exercise doesn’t rely on oxygen and uses mostly stored carbohydrates. From personal experience I feel HIIT makes you breathe harder, burns more fat, than steady-state cardio and results appear quicker.
On that note, if your goal is to burn fat then you better make HIIT your new best friend in my opinion. It is actually said that HIIT was nine times more effective for losing fat than steady-state cardio. HIIT also helps you build a resistance to that aching sensation in your muscles that you get with a hard workout, in time you can work long with shorter breaks and for longer periods.
Although, HIIT see’s faster results, with shredding bodyfat being a sure winner, it also has it draw backs. One of the most dominant negatives of HIIT in my experience is how demanding it is on the body, both mentally and physically. Believe me the first six to eight weeks are torturous, running on the treadmill at a steady pace is a walk in the park over a few seconds of burpees and we all know my hatred for stupid treadmills.
Not alone is HIIT draining and tough going but there is also more of a chance of overtraining, especially if this is not your only method of training. Many accompany HIIT with resistance training, popular in bodybuilding at current, becoming more and more popular due to celebrities like Dana Linn Bailey posting various HIIT or CrossFit workouts.
So I guess it’s not all clean cut, one being entirely better than the other. The real answer is yes cardio is probably a must in all our training regimes but whether steady state is better than high intensity is completely unique to each person. What works for me might not work for you. I love a balance, give me some HIIT on Monday and leave me do my run on Wednesday. Variety is key, you have to listen to your own body and see what works best. And never ever do something you detest or makes you unhappy, don’t bother following trends and most of all don’t buy into magic solutions because they don’t exist.