“Cardio” short for Cardiovascular is “a type of exercise designed to increase muscular endurance by improving the performance of the heart and lungs to distribute oxygen to the muscles”. Cardio training includes exercises such as jogging, cycling, swimming etc. The benefits of doing cardiovascular training include weight loss, a stronger heart and lungs, increased metabolism and bone density. It reduces the risk of heart disease, promotes better sleep and more energy.
Measuring your heart rate is a method used to evaluate training intensity. To put it in very simple terms, the higher your heart rate is the more intense you are working, the lower your heart rate is the less intense you are working.
H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training)
“H.I.I.T”is High Intensity Interval Training which means working at a higher intensity (all out/as hard as you can) for short bursts of time followed by a period of rest.The work to rest ratio of these intervals will differ depending on overall fitness level. Duration of an H.I.I.T session can vary from 20 – 30 mins.
“Steady State”Cardio is cardiovascular exercise at a lower intensity for a longer duration of time. You would train at approximately 60-70% of your maximum heart rate for anywhere between 30 mins – 90mins in duration.
Weight Loss / Fat Loss
“Weight loss”includes the loss of fat, muscle and water. “Fat loss”is the reduction of body fat. The latter is more desirable as it lends to a more favourable body composition.
So which type of Cardio is more effective at burning fat?
Steady state cardio is effective for fat lossas the longer the duration of the exercise the more fat is burned. This is due to fat being used a source of energy. However, research on this would suggest that doing steady state cardio for longer than 45 minutes could result in the loss of muscle mass. You lose muscle mass when your body uses muscle tissue as a source of energy. You don’t want this to happen!!
H.I.I.T will allow you to burn more calories in a shorter space of time. It’s more effective at burning fat because of the “after burn”effect;following an intense session your metabolism is raised for hours after.
These two types of cardio training place different demands on the body. Performing both types of cardio can achieve fat loss. So whether or not you use one or both is heavily dependent on your training goals and fitness level.If you are a beginner to cardiovascular exercise,I would recommend you start with steady state cardio and focuson developing your aerobic fitness and gradually progressing to H.I.I.T.
Article written by: Michelle Whelan. A full time Instructor at Goldstone Fitness Waterford.