Are you currently on a mission to burn fat and get down to your goal weight? Trying to get lean and shredded for a physique competition? Want to make sure that those bad weekend choices don’t come back to haunt you in the form of a beer belly? Cardiovascular-focused workouts can help burn those extra calories.
There are two big names when it comes to weight loss workouts: high-intensity interval training and traditional cardio. HIIT vs. cardio: Is one better than the other for achieving weight loss?
WHAT IS HIIT?
High-intensity interval training, better known as HIIT, involves a series of exercises, usually bodyweight-based, that are performed in rapid succession. That means you save your big break until you’ve completed all of the prescribed repetitions for each exercise.
Once you rest for about three minutes, you begin the list again, repeating this pattern three to seven times, depending on the difficulty, ability, and fitness goals. The average HIIT workout will last between fifteen and twenty-five minutes.
BENEFITS OF HIIT
EPOC Levels: The fat-burning benefits of HIIT are well established, but what you may not know is that a HIIT workout will help you continue to burn calories long after the workout has ended. A high-intensity workout leaves you with a blood oxygen deficit, which your body has to work to restore. The extra work can last for hours post-workout, helping to increase energy expenditure while you’re relaxing.
Another proven way to support fat burning post-workout? Try wearing a thermogenic waist trimmer belt. The special material in the belt promotes blood flow to your trouble areas, supporting fat oxidation. Learn more about waist trimmer belts in our article.
Muscle Building: Push-ups, jump squats, pull-ups, and lunges are just a few examples of popular HIIT weight loss workout exercises. Not only will these exercises help to burn fat, but they are also tried-and-true muscle builders. Many people using HIIT workouts see an increase in lean muscle tissue while simultaneously dropping fat weight.
WHAT IS CARDIO?
The traditional idea of cardio involves a lower intensity during a longer duration. Where the average HIIT workout lasts around twenty minutes, traditional cardio workouts take between forty-five minutes and an hour to complete.
The long-duration nature of traditional cardio limits the type of exercise you can do. You need to find something that can be sustained for that time frame, making cardio-focused machines, walking, jogging, and biking some of the best options.
BENEFITS OF CARDIO
Fat-Burning: Traditional cardio is the bodybuilder’s go-to option for shredding the last of the fat around the mid-section. Studies show that traditional cardio options can increase energy expenditure and calorie burning, resulting in a successful weight loss and weight management.
Low-Impact Exercise: HIIT exercises are considered higher impact, which means they put more force on connective tissue, especially the ankles and knees. Traditional cardio exercises such as walking in the park or using the stepper machine don’t require the same amount of force, making them ideal for those people who have joint issues.
HIIT VS. CARDIO: WHICH ONE IS BETTER FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
Both HIIT and cardio have the benefit of supporting weight loss, but is one superior to the other in terms of fat-burning results? Not according to science.
One study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that there was no significant difference in the weight loss results in two groups: one using HIIT, the other using traditional cardio. (1) With that said, both HIIT and cardio offer their own unique advantages that could help you choose one over the other.
CHOOSE HIIT IF YOU . . .
- Have no current or prior ankle and knee issues.
- Need to save time.
- Want to also improve other features of your cardiovascular health including target heart rate and max VO2.
CHOOSE TRADITIONAL CARDIO IF YOU . . .
- Require a low-impact workout.
- Are just starting out with cardiovascular workouts.
- Need to keep a close eye on your target heart rate.
TRY MIXING THEM UP
One of the better options you have is to use both HIIT and traditional cardio. For example, use traditional cardio following a tough leg day workout, and on the other days, use HIIT. Or if you need a week away from the weight room to change things up, use HIIT as your “heavy days” and traditional cardio as your “cardio day.”
HIIT VS. CARDIO: WHICH DO YOU PREFER?
Are you a fan of the old school cardio workouts? Have you been converted to the higher intensity workouts? Have a workout video of yourself crushing a HIIT workout? Tag us on Instagram so we can share it!
- Foster, Carl, Courtney V. Farland, Flavia Guidotti, Michelle Harbin, Brianna Roberts, Jeff Schuette, Andrew Tuuri, Scott T. Doberstein, and John P. Porcari. "The Effects of High Intensity Interval Training vs Steady State Training on Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity." Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. November 24, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657417/.