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Endless Hours of Cardio? HIIT it Hard

I often see people going to the gym 3/4 times a week doing hours of ‘cardio’ and seeing little to no results. Why is this? There’s a number of different reasons, but i’ll break it down into a few of the main ones:

SSC (Steady State Cardio) is where you maintain a steady, manageable speed for an extended amount of time. For example, 30 minutes on the cross trainer, same resistance, same speed, boring and ineffective! People tend to maintain a steady heart rate in the ‘fat burning zone’ which is normally 55-65% of your maximum heart rate. PLEASE don’t fall into this trap of burning more fat at a steady speed.

When you exercise your body primarily takes energy from 2 places, fats and glycogen (stored carbohydrates) the theory behind SSC is that you will dip into your glycogen stores burning more fat, WRONG.

This is where HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) comes into the frame. The new craze of cardio. What is it and what are the benefits? HIIT is a combination of aerobic (use of oxygen) and anaerobic (limited oxygen) over a short period of time, which allows you to work in the top 25% of your anaerobic ability over a short period of time, followed by the use of aerobic ability to recover. Still with me? In basic terms HIIT is incorporating periods of work (trying to work as hard as you can) followed by rest. An example of this? 30 seconds sprint on a treadmill followed by 60 second walk/recovery jog. Repeat for 15-20 minutes, done.

Why do this and not SSC you ask? Convenience is a big one among gym goers now, you can smash a 20 min HIIT and that is all you need as your working at a high intensity compared to 40-60 minutes of SSC.

Calorie wise, SSC cannot live with HIIT. Its very simple, work harder, burn more calories and thats exactly what you do in a HIIT. The difference between 20 minutes SSC and a 20 minute HIIT for me personally are sometimes over 100 calories! Sound good? It gets better.

Afterburner effect is the amount of calories burnt AFTER exercise, yes, due to a metabolism disturbance during a HIIT, you continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours! Does the same happen during SSC? Yes. To the same extent? Nowhere near!

Next time your in the gym, smash a 20 minute HIIT, burn calories, feel great and see the results in no time..

Posted by Personal Trainer Luke Pigden


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