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What is the Best for Fat Loss? : State or HIIT Cardio

The cardio you choose strongly depends on your needs and body composition goals. Whether you’re building muscle, improving endurance, or trying to lose fat, your cardio workouts are going to differ drastically.

Steady-state vs HIIT cardio?

Steady state cardio is a workout that results in a continuous, and steady heart rate. This could involve walking, jogging, running or rowing, for example, as long as it is remaining consistent and regular.

HIIT, on the other hand, is interval based cardio workouts, where the heart rate and effort follows a pattern of high energy output, paired with short intervals of rest.

Cardio, in general, is an essential part of any workout regime, and without it, it becomes a lot harder and takes substantially longer to reach your goals whether that be fat loss, explosiveness or endurance. Many people turn to steady state cardio to chomp through a substantial number of calories per day, leaving them in an overall calorie deficit, in other words, leading to fat loss. Recently though, steady state cardio has been crossed off as an effective way to lose weight, with most people turning to weightlifting and short HIIT sessions to fulfill their workout needs, as HIIT has shown to have a longer lasting effect on raising metabolism, burning fat for longer. But which is a more efficient way to lose fat?

Why choose Steady State cardio?

  1. Steady state cardio can burn more calories than HIIT if you keep the intensity high throughout the entire workout.
  2. Steady state cardio is an easier way to start your fitness journey, as it’s less daunting than HIIT. Steady state is also something easy to add to an existing regime without making drastic changes, requiring massive amounts of effort.
  3. Steady state cardio can be done more often without the chance of injury to your body, as it has less stress on your joints and muscles.

Examples of Steady State Cardio that you can do throughout the week:

  • Running at a moderate pace
  • Dancing (take a Zumba class!)
  • Cycling / Biking
  • Swimming
  • Climbing stairs (you can even use the Stairmaster at the gym)
  • Sitting down and working out with a rowing machine
  • Using the Elliptical machine at the gym

And why choose HIIT cardio?

  • HIIT improved your fast twitch muscles, allowing for greater explosiveness and reaction time during workouts
  • HIIT works your cardiovascular endurance more than any other workout style, pushing you to reach your absolute max and bringing it back donw again
  • It can allow you to reach your fitness goals faster, with less time spent working out overall
  • HIIT has been shown to increase the efficiency of using fat as fuel which will eventually help you to reduce fat.
  • It’s generally more of an exciting workout as you’re constantly changing your pace and work out.

So which is a better option for fat loss?

Introducing the Calorie Afterburn Effect / EPOC (Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption)

“If you were to utilize a high-intensity cardio session, you will consume more oxygen in the hours after the session and burn more fats after the session. Whereas for steady state cardio, you will only get the caloric burn from the session itself. Even though EPOC is unlikely to account for any significantly greater fat loss potential with HIIT, HIIT requires ~40% less training time commitment, you basically get the same amount of fat loss with half the time needed! Also, HIIT tends to reduce appetite better, leading to fewer calories consumed. HIIT also tends to make people push themselves harder during the short intervals, leading to a higher fat loss overall.”

When we compare the effectiveness of  HIIT and Steady State cardio from a fat loss perspective, the results for HIIT were proven to be more favorable. For example, a 12-week program resulted in significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat in overweight males (Alahmadi MA, 2014) as compared to steady state cardio.

Why pick just one?

Incorporating both steady state and mixing the 2 will be highly beneficial. A perfect balance would be doing 30 minutes of steady state cardio and another 5-10 minutes of HIIT cardio – which allows you to reap the benefits of both types of cardio! Make sure you are continuously increasing your intensity to make it even more effective, just like how you increase your weights at the gym!

Alongside your training, your diet will mostly determine the results of your workout – so remember to eat well! Opt for a high protein, low carbs and high-fat diet for fat loss!