Back in the day, we all just assumed that jumping on a cardio machine of our choice and putting it on, was all that we needed to lose body fat. I mean it did make sense, just do more physical activity than you’re accustom to and your body is suppose to just lose body fat from the excess energy that’s required to perform those said activities. But did you know there are two different forms of cardio, that tend to do two separate things. So you have to wonder, which one is best for me?
High intensity interval training, HIIT, is a form of cardio that corporates high intervals of cardio with low levels of cardio. Sometimes the low levels can also be a period of complete rest, for a certain amount of time, which is then followed by the high intensity period. Generally, HIIT isn’t performed longer than 15 minutes, with intervals from 30 seconds to 1 minute, of either intensity level. The positives about HIIT is that it can be done in a short period of time, provide some excellent fat loss results and increase your metabolism!
Low intensity, steady state (LISS), cardio is just as the words imply. It’s a low form of cardio, that lasts for a long period of time. Generally, it lasts for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, where the person jogs or walks in a nice steady state for that allotted period of time. The positive part about this is that it doesn’t require much energy to perform, you’re in and out of the gym in less than an hour and it helps produce some awesome fat loss also.
Now the question is, which one is best for you? The thing is, HIIT increases your metabolism, not only on the day of when the cardio was done but rather up to 2 days afterwards! The unfortunate thing is that although this is an excellent fat loss form of cardio, it may also cause muscle loss to occur while doing it (although this is debatable). Unlike LISS, HIIT is generally not recommended to be done on an empty stomach (although some people do use it, but like with any type of cardio while trying to maintain muscle mass, a BCAA [branch chain amino acid], would have to be used, if you are training fasted). So one will have to consume a meal about 1 hour before performing their HIIT, while with LISS, they can do fasted. I will touch on BCAA another time, in another article, so keep a look out for it.
Incorporating both of these forms of cardio, can greatly increase your fat loss abilities while having your body continuously guessing. You can have some days of LISS and some of HIIT, or one week of LISS and one week of HIIT, or when you are no longer seeing any weight loss on the scale, you can incorporate the other form of cardio to substitute the previous one.
Personally, I love LISS, as it’s very low intensity and doesn’t require much energy at the moment of doing it. HIIT is very intense, and you will definitely feel an effect from doing it afterward. It’s just a personal choice. In fact, HIIT would actually be better used during a lean bulk to help with lowering fat gains, rather than just doing boring LISS. This is evident in sprinters; very low body fat with very bulking muscle mass. The only thing one would have to remember in that case, is to compensate for the HIIT in their diet, to facilitate muscle gain.
If you are one who enjoys doing cardio on your weight training days though, LISS would be better because of the low intensity that it requires. HIIT requires a lot, so it may not be a good precursor or proceeding cardio choice. Although I mention this, don’t let it be a deterrent, if you feel you have the energy to crunch out 15 minutes of HIIT after a training session or before. Yet again, it’s all a preference on what you are looking to achieve and what will keep you having an active lifestyle!