HIIT is an abbreviation of ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ is defined as a short, intense burst of physical activity with short intervals of recovery periods. You should aim to work at 80-95% of your HRM (Heart Rate Max) when doing HIIT training and the recovery period may last as long as the work period. During the recovery period, you would be working around 40-50% of your HRM. This type of training is intense and burns calories at a higher rate for up to 48-72 hours later, known as the ‘afterburn’. HIIT can be performed anywhere and often does not need any equipment. It can be modified for all levels of ability and fitness.
Steady State Cardio
Steady state cardio is defined as a cardiovascular workout that is continuous and is a steady state of effort throughout. For example, a run for 30 minutes at a speed of 7kph an hour, keeping your heart rate the same throughout the session. A heart rate of between 60-80% is a good target. Steady state can be performed anywhere, outdoors or in the gym and you can perform this without any equipment. Steady state examples are, running, walking, incline walking on a treadmill, cycling, swimming etc. Steady state can be done by any ability and any fitness level.
Which is better?
Both HIIT and Steady State training are highly versatile, safe and convenient ways to increase your cardiovascular fitness. Steady state is aerobic, meaning it requires oxygen and is mostly fueled by our fat stores (when we work at the right pace), whereas HIIT is anaerobic, meaning it doesn’t rely on oxygen and is fueled mainly by our stored carbohydrate stores. Both types of training help blood pressure drop, increases VO2 maximum uptake and improves your metabolism. Both forms of exercise will allow for fat loss. As stated before steady state uses your fat stores predominantly for its energy source when exercising, however it may take a longer time to perform a steady state session (and some people find it boring and repetitive). HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short space of time and creates an ‘after burn effect’ which means you continue to burn calories after your session as your body is working hard to rebuild any muscle lean muscle mass broken down during the high intensity session, however is a harder session if you are unmotivated to work at a high intensity.
As both have different benefits (aerobic and anaerobic) we should incorporate both into our training regimes. I personally feel that there is a place for both in our training programmes. Steady state predominantly uses our fat stores and improves our aerobic capacity and function which in turns improves our overall health and works the heart and lungs improving cardiovascular fitness and stamina, and HIIT burns calories in a short space of time (this is great if you have little time on your hands), improves our anaerobic capacity and allows us to burn more calories after the session due to elevated metabolism.
So, which ones better? I say we should do both!! Ultimately, if you are doing SOMETHING I am happy!