By Lauren Denos: 1/13/2015 (Fitness)

Steady state cardio or high intensity interval training? How do you know which one you should do?

When it comes to cardio, you may have heard plenty of suggestions of what type you should do, but it gets a bit confusing with all the info available. Some say Steady-State is best –which is holding one steady pace for your whole session –and others claim Interval Training is the one you should do. This method consists of switching between a lighter and heavier pace. So which one is better? Well, actually, both are great. Let‘s talk about the pros and cons of each.

No matter which one your choose, always be improving upon where you are at.

First thing to keep in mind is whether you prefer a Steady-State Cardio or a HIIT method, you need to continually up your game. So if you tend to do Steady-State training and you have been running 10 miles at a 10 minute mile, then you want to see if you can start knocking some seconds off that time. It may be that you are aiming for a 9.5 minute mile. Sure it is only 30 seconds faster, but that does make a difference. Our bodies adapt so quickly, so if you do the exact same thing day in and day out you will stop seeing progress. Now let‘s look at both types of cardiovascular exercise.

Steady-State Cardio

Steady-State Cardio is geared towards longer boughts of endurance. If you are wanting to do marathons, then you will absolutley want to use some Steady-State Cardio in your training. If you are new to exercise then Steady-State is a great way to get going on your new healthy habit. This will be challenging enough on the body to help you build up. Steady-State is your foundation! If you have a high heart rate like 60's and above, you may be in a constant stress state and could benefit from Steady-State until you improve this. Our body adapts differently to both Steady-State and HIIT training. A great point with Steady-State Cardio is that it helps your heart fill fully, and therefore will eventually help your left ventrical grow, which helps with cardiac output. This means you get more blood in and out of your heart with each heart beat. When you are doing HIIT, the heart does not get the chance to fill fully. So, for this reason alone, it is good to keep some Steady-State Cardio sessions in your routine.

The benefits of steady state cardio.

A great benefit to Steady-State Cardio is it can be a bit more relaxing to your body. If you are someone who deals with a ton of stress throughout the day, being able to go on a run or a bike ride at a steady (but still challeneging) pace then you can take that workout time to do a kind of moving meditation. HIIT is a stressful and intense exercise on your body, which can be good, but if you are someone who needs to bring your stress levels down then you may want to do some staedy state cardio.

Interval Training or HIIT Training

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. A common example of HIIT training would be if you are walking or jogging and then do sprints inbetween. So it may be 1-2 minutes of walking and then sprint as fast and as far as you can, or it may only be 2 seconds or it may be a 1 minute. If you are a very experienced athlete, it may be a few minutes. These can be adapted to any fitness level, but the challenge will help challenge your cardiovascular system in an intense way. If you are really out if shape, then it may be walking for 5 minutes with a slow jog for 1 minute and then repeat. If you are in really great shape, it could be a good paced jog with wind sprints in between. The great thing is this is an adaptable style and can be used at different paces and with different exercises. You can do this with a bicycle, kayak, jump rope, swimming, etc. Whatever you do for cardio, you can use the HIIT method. Go with what works for your body. If running is bad on your knees then do something else. Remember this is about improving your health, not ruining your body.

The benefits of HITT

#1 In some studies they are showing a 10% higher stroke volume has been attributed to using the HIIT method, meaning your body can pump more blood and you will getting better oxygen supply. That said, it does not mean that your heart is getting the chance to fully fill as with Steady-State. Some studies are also suggesting that HIIT may be better for raising your VO2 max. (the amount of oxygen the body is using during exercise.

#2 Studies are showing that HIIT method burns more fat. So if leaning down is your sole concern, then HIIT might be the right choice for you. At the same time, if you are very new to exercise then this could be a bit too extreme for your body, taxing it beyond what it is ready for. Be mindful of where you are at. There is nothing wrong with starting slow and working up. Even seasoned athletes have down-times they need to come back from; they have to start back up slow too.

#3 One of the biggest pros for many people with doing HIIT training is that you can workout for half the time that you would do Steady-State Cardio. All the while, they are breaking down just as much fat and carbohydrates for (ATP) Energy. Although, studies are also showing that while you can make great gains with HIIT training, within 4-6 weeks your body will adapt and your gains will slow or stop. For this reason, it is good to take a break and change things up. Like going back to some Steady-State Cardio for a week or two.

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