Low Intensity Steady State Cardio Vs HIIT

The big debate around which one works best for fat loss has gone on far too long!!!

Just before you continue reading, this will only be of use to you if you actually care about getting results and want to achieve results that last...

This will also only be of use to you if you understand that all advice requires a lot of context and ultimately the answer will be, it depends, but luckily for you guys, I have outlined the specific questions that it depends on!

Firstly, why are you doing cardio in the first place? Are you just putting it in there so you can burn more calories? If so that is a major error and needs to be rectified!

But the real question is… Which one will work best for you in your current state of physical and physiological health?

Forget the muscle mags, the huge bodybuilders that swear by their very specific methods and the insta famous accounts that tell you they are doing this crazy new style of training that torches body fat and follow me on a logical journey of facts and results!

Cardiovascular training has long been given a bad rep.

It is either massively over utilised or completely ignored in the quest for fat los or a better body shape!

So why is it actually important?

Your cardiovascular health underpins pretty much every aspect of your overall wellbeing.

Imagine climbing a flight of stairs and your legs burning, you are out of breath and you feel every single bit of your age.

That is the kind of scenario that tells me we need to work on improving your aerobic health.

Imagine struggling with a flight of stairs and then going to a gym and being told you need to do all out, max effort work for 20s and have a 40s rest period, then you need to go and do it all over again 10 times.

Imagine struggling with a flight of stairs, struggling with daily joint pains, muscular fatigue, pre existing injuries and not being able to touch your toes let alone deadlift, squat and burpees…

Clearly HIIT in this circumstance is going to cause a few long term issues, health wise, whether it is an injury, a crazily long recovery period or putting you off training for good!

So lets say you want to perform cardiovascular work to help you with your goal of losing body fat, what would be the best type to do, but you aren’t sure which one is right for you right now and you want to get it right for long term results!

Firstly lets look at you as an individual. Are you fit and healthy?

Mot people answer yes at this point.

Ok so…

  • Do you have regular bowel movements?
  • Do you sleep throughout the night without waking up?
  • Do you rely on caffeine or stimulants to keep you going through the day?
  • Do you commonly suffer from bloating, indigestion, gas or digestive distress?
  • Do you have recurring injuries?
  • Do you get easily fatigued?
  • Do your muscles feel tired performing day to day activities?
  • Do you have pre hypertension or hypertension?
  • Do you have low heart rate variability?

You see my point?

The list of questions can go on from this point, but the truth is, most people will have tuned out by now, because there is no sexy answer, there is just individualised responses that provide me with the subjective and objective data that will allow me to determine which type of activity we should be looking at working on first!

Imagine for a moment that you do regularly check your blood pressure, you are sitting in a range of mid 120s+/ 80+ (you will often see guidelines saying this is not a problem, which it isn’t immediately, but have these readings for a few years and issues begin to compound and before you know it you are suffering from cardiovascular disease).

Imagine for a moment that you are checking your resting heart rate and you are consistently in the 70’s.Add to this the high blood pressure and you are well on your way to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Then compound this with a crazy amount of maximal effort high intensity interval training and you are further exacerbating an already worrying problem by creating a less commonly known term, left ventricular hypertrophy. Creating smaller cavity walls which further drives up blood pressure and heart rate… which leads to… you guessed it… CVD!

So before we start taking insta famous, celebrity trainer or muscle mag advice, lets look at things logically.

Go out and track your blood pressure and heart rate for a few weeks and see where you are currently sitting.If you are in and around 115/75 (BP) and 55-65 BPM (HR) then you are in a good position to increase training intensity. Although I would be looking at some subjective measures of recovery, digestion, sleep and stress here to ensure that you are able to handle a lot of intense work!

If you are not in a good position with your health readings, then fix this as a priority,

Stop doing maximal effort strength training because the guy from social media said its ideal for fat loss, stop doing HIIT because a celebrity swore by it for a movie they made and stop doing high impact, high intensity sports because your family heard its the best way to get fit fast.

Start by looking to improve aerobic health with low intensity steady state cardiovascular work. Do this until you get really good at maintaining a heart rate of 130-150BPM whilst walking, cycling or using some low impact cardio equipment at the gym.

Once you have nailed that, practice improving your breathing patterns, nasal breathing alongside low intensity steady state cardio will be pretty powerful for fat loss!

On the back of doing this consistently over the course of four weeks, you will begin to notice a difference in your energy levels, improved cognitive function, better performance whilst training, the need to put the speed up on the treadmill or a notch up on the incline, better digestion, reduced stress levels and better quality sleep.

Then when you are ready, you are feeling good, your health is in a good position, begin to phase in some more intensity into your cardiovascular routines, but just remember, you won’t need as much of it now as your intensity has gone up, so use that extra time to your advantage by going into the gym and getting some amazing personal bests in your resistance training!

I did an hour live call on this subject within the Lean Indian Academy earlier this week?

Would you like access to the raw footage and the entire contents of the call?

If so click here and drop me a message with the work #Empowered

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