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Muscle Sport Magazine

Which is Better for Fat Loss – HIIT or Steady State Cardio?

By Maurice Bright – This debate has gone on for eons seemingly, with both sides giving compelling arguments but which method IS actually better for reducing body fat? We’re going to address and assess each right here, right NOW.

High Intensity Interval Training; Jumping rope, kettlebell swings, sprints and etc. are all categorized as forms of High Intensity Interval Training or H.I.I.T as many like to call it. H.I.I.T combines moderate to short rest periods with high intensity exercises to stir up a metabolic fire that continues to burn even AFTER you’re done working out. Allow me to elaborate; research shows that H.I.I.T brings upon something known as EPOC within the body, which stands for Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption. This is the recovery period after cardiovascular exercise where elevated oxygen consumption occurs, this effect increases your metabolism by working diligently to erase the body’s oxygen debt resulting in fatty acids being released to be used as fuel for recovery. This process will go on for hours allowing the body to burn up fat even after the workout is complete, hooray!

 

Practicing H.I.I.T also improves your metabolic flexibility so to speak by teaching your capacity to transition from burning fat before your workout and during rest periods to burning up carbohydrates which you’ll utilize during work intervals. Another claim to superiority H.I.I.T makes is its very time efficient. For instance, I’m currently cutting (focusing on reducing body fat) and I perform H.I.I.T after my initial weightlifting workouts 2-3 times a week and my H.I.I.T sessions last no more than 12 minutes. This would be the ideal training method for the busy bee individual who always has somewhere to be or a person who just doesn’t want to spend an abundance of time on cardiovascular exercise. The downside to H.I.I.T is over time it takes a much more vigorous toll on your body than steady state cardio would if constantly performed, the high intense nature of it can potentially lead to overtraining and burning out your nervous system resulting in a much more difficult process of recovery than previously.

Steady-State Cardio; Jogging, walking, light cycling and etc. are some of the exercises categorized as forms of Steady-State Cardio or S.S.C as some refer to it as, actually no one refers to it as that at ALL, I just thought it sounded cool. Steady-state cardio may not burn as much calories as H.I.I.T all the time but it does still chop down those numbers progressively, for instance, jogging for about 30 minutes can burn approximately 300 calories. Get after a jog every other day? And you’ll certainly rack up some calorie burnage which can translate to weight loss. Steady-state cardio can, in some cases, even help you maintain muscle mass more so than H.I.I.T. Yes, H.I.I.T is better for maintaining lean muscle because it stresses the muscles the same way weightlifting does but practicing several strength training and H.I.I.T sessions each week while on a strict low calorie diet can equate to a greater risk of muscle mass loss. Also, due to the high energy demands and longer recovery times of H.I.I.T, some research suggests that steady-state cardio helps individuals stick to their diets better. Think of it like this, you’re burning a copious amount of calories with H.I.I.T thus resulting in you being hungrier throughout the day, this inevitably leads to you snacking on a little more food than your diet might allow. I’m not saying people are going to most definitely become less disciplined if their stomach gets to growling BUT steady-state cardio can burn calories AND help to keep an individual committed to their diet by not firing up their metabolism so much.

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We’ve looked at the research, analyzed the approaches and it seems H.I.I.T is indeed the better method for fat loss but it all depends on a few things. I highly suggest beginners start out with practicing some steady-state cardio first then easing their way into H.I.I.T because telling a novice to perform burpees and sprints may not be the best idea. Thrusting a newcomer into the world of H.I.I.T right out of the gate could crush their spirit and have them forever fearing the sweat inducing corridors of a gym. In my opinion too, H.I.I.T is the better method for fat loss for someone already seasoned in the fitness game, not a beginner. It’s vital to always utilize both methods though to maintain a healthy balance within the mind and body; one of my mottos is…”Meditate with steady-state and get fit with H.I.I.T,” Try it out sometime, folks.

Maurice Bright is an ISSA certified personal trainer who also manages his own health and fitness website, mauricebright.com in hopes to inform, educate, motivate and inspire whenever possible.
 
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