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We all see people performing some form of cardio workout. This article helps you to understand the difference between HIIT and Steady State cardio for the type of training you want to perform. 

Steady state vs HIIT; what works best for you?

What is steady state cardio?

It’s a continuous, steady effort, as opposed to a start/stop interval or mixed pace effort. It varies in time from 20-30 min for novice athletes to 60-90 min for more advanced.

One of the best methods is a  fast paced uphill walk or something relatively low impact. But you can use a bike, swim, rower, elliptical, stepper or anything similar.

What are the benefits of steady state cardio?

The benefits of steady state are many, some you may agree with and some you may not. This is how I see it;

  • Good for the mind
  • Low impact
  • Good for beginners, old or injured
  • Improves heart health
  • Boosts recovery
  • Improves blood flow and therefor nutrient delivery
  • It burns calories
  • More time spent in your “fat burning zone”

What are the negatives of steady state cardio?

Its not all good depending on how you look at it, here are a few negatives of steady state cardio;

  • A poor use of time if you are limited to only a few hours a week of exercise or when training in a gym
  • It’s not the optimal method for gaining muscle and building shape
  • It can have negative effects on cortisol levels if you’re not careful causing muscle breakdown, slowing metabolism and undoing your hard work elsewhere
  • People can find it boring.

How can you use steady state to your advantage?

Steady state cardio is great for active recovery to aid blood flow, fat loss and muscle recovery outside of their weight training. It also helps to improve mental state, relaxation and to almost use it as active meditation.

A lot of people prefer to perform this type of training first thing in the morning. It can help set up your day, give you some energy to attack your day and will help to make you leaner. 

What is HIIT cardio?

High intensity interval training is varied speed training, using short and extremely intense work periods immediately followed by low intensity recovery or complete rest.

An example of this would be one of the following; sprints, circuit training, weighted uphill hiking, boxing etc. 

Sprinting is one of SPC’s favourite methods of HIIT. Aim to run as fast as you can for either time (15-20s) or distance (50m-100m) on a hill or a flat surface, A hill will obviously provide you with a unique challenge and can actually improve your running gait.  

You can use sprint training, bike, battle ropes, kettle bells, body weight and many more methods with this format of training. 

What are the benefits of HIIT?

  • In and out of the gym in record time while still having a brutal and effective session
  • Physical strength and endurance
  • Good for those on a tight schedule
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Improves heart health
  • Improves blood flow and therefore nutrient delivery
  • It burns calories not only during exercise but elevates metabolic rate for up to 36 hours after
  • It can help torch stubborn belly fat

What are the negatives of HIIT?

Here are a few of the potential short falls of HIIT;

  • It’s hard work and may not be suited to the beginner or older trainee
  • It’s often high impact in nature and this can cause huge issues for peoples knees, ankles and backs
  • It’s often appallingly coached and the rushed nature of it can promote a lack of attention to proper form
  • People don’t take a warm up for HIIT seriously so often they get injured
  • It can have a negative effect on testosterone and stress hormones if over done
  • It’s hard work… again

How can you use HIIT to your advantage?

HIIT is best perform 1-2x per week alongside a regime of resistance training for best results. Anymore than that and you can increase your chances of injury, burnout and becoming unmotivated to train.

At SPC, we focus on HIIT training when coaching our members on limited occasions every week. Looking to get involved in a group training environment that uses both an indoor and outdoor gym facility? Find out all the details here