Comparing HIIT Cardio vs. Traditional Cardio
If your goal is to lose weight or become physically fit, cardio is the way to go. Cardio strengthens your heart, muscles, and lungs, making it possible for your body to endure long, hard workouts. During cardio exercise, we burn more calories than with any other type of workouts.
Until recently, the typical cardio exercise consisted of getting on the treadmill or going outside to run a few miles. The intensity of that workout doesn’t change much. Running keeps you at a moderate intensity and a steady speed which helped burn calories, but it didn’t provide the consistent fat burning results that you may have been looking for.
HIIT cardio, on the other hand, combines medium and high-intensity cardio exercise which not only strengthens the body and helps burn fat, it also helps your body to continue burning fat long after the workout is over. A typical HIIT workout raises the heart rate between 80-90 percent of max for a specific period of time (depending upon the type of workout you are doing) and then dropping your heart rate down (recovery period) to about 30-40 percent for another specified period of time. The recovery period allows your body to rest in preparation for the next high-intensity portion of the workout. Some of the benefits of HIIT Cardio vs Traditional Cardio include these:
HIIT Cardio vs Traditional Cardio
- Shorter Workouts – HIIT cardio workouts are more intense than traditional cardio workouts. Those intense workouts help your body deliver oxygen more efficiently than is possible with traditional cardio workouts, increasing overall metabolic health. Short, intense workouts have been touted as producing the same, if not better, results than slower workouts.
- Increased Performance – Traditional cardio exercise helps to stimulate the aerobic system which makes it possible for the body to utilize oxygen more efficiently. In contrast, HIIT cardio stimulates both the aerobic and anaerobic systems of the body. Anaerobic cardio helps promote the strength, power, and speed needed to build muscle and burn excess fat and stored carbohydrates. Stronger muscles promote stronger bones and joints.
- Increased Calorie Burn – HIIT workouts burn more calories not only during the workout but also afterward. This is known as the afterburn. It takes longer for your body to return to the normal calorie burn rate when your HIIT cardio workout is more difficult. For those who work out and want to burn extra calories and fat, HIIT cardio is highly beneficial. Depending upon the person, the type and length of HIIT exercise, the afterburn can result in an increased metabolic rate that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
- Belly Fat Burn – Studies have shown that HIIT cardio exercise helps to burn more belly fat than traditional cardio exercise. People who do traditional cardio exercises have difficulty burning belly fat, whereas those who add HIIT cardio to their exercise regimen tend to burn more abdominal fat.
- Glucose and Muscles – Glucose, a simple sugar which is an important energy source in living organisms and is a component of many carbohydrates, is either utilized by the body, or it is excreted. Excess glucose is converted into glycogen and then converted back into glucose and used by the body as energy. Those who do HIIT cardio tend to use glucose more efficiently than those who do traditional cardio. The excess glucose that is not excreted from the body can ultimately lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart problems.
- Increased Improvement in Health – Traditional cardio is good for your health but doesn’t provide the extreme health benefits of HIIT cardio. HIIT cardio workouts tend to increase muscle strength and endurance, heart health, including a lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure.
- Increased Tolerance for Physical Stress – The intensity of HIIT workouts strengthens the body and enables it to tolerate other physical stresses, such as weight training, participating in sports, being on your feet for long periods of time, spending long hours at work, etc.
At this point, you may be asking yourself which type of exercise program is best for you. It really depends in large part on your health, how much time you have to exercise, what your fitness goals are (losing weight, burning calories during and/or after workouts), how well your body tolerates each type of exercise, and how quickly you wish to reach your fitness goals. Remember, traditional cardio and HIIT cardio work well together, so integrating both of them into your exercise regimen can be advantageous. Just keep in mind that no matter what exercise regimen you decide to do you should consult with your physician.