Why steady cardio might be the right choice for you
Are you wondering what might be the best cardio for your goals? Have you been told to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) but you dread doing it? Does HIIT leave you drained? You might want to consider good old steady cardio. To find out if it’s a better fit for you, read on……
There is a widespread debate on the internet about what type of cardio is best for fat burning. Almost always the contest is between High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and steady state cardio. Although there are supporters in both camps, current opinion seems to favour HIIT as the most effective option for fat burning. I’m going to buck the trend and make a case for steady state cardio.
Before we even talk about fat burning, let’s look at some other factors that make steady cardio a good choice for some people:
- The psychological barriers are lower for steady cardio. The prospect of doing HIIT can fill people with dread, myself included. It’s just not pleasant to do. If the prospect of doing HIIT puts people off then they are less likely to stick to an exercise regime. If doing steady cardio is more agreeable and increases adherence to exercise for those who were formerly sedentary, then I’m a fan.
- With steady cardio you can use the time productively. It’s like going for a walk, it’s not hugely demanding. I am able to think clearly, plan my day and solve problems in my head whilst plugging away on my elliptical. Or if I prefer, I can watch the TV and switch off a little. With HIIT, on the other hand, all I can think about is counting down the seconds until it’s all over.
- Steady cardio is not so taxing on the nervous system. I do a lot of weight training, which is already taxing on the nervous system. I find that if I do HIIT on top of that, my nervous system takes too much of a beating and I can’t then find the drive to power through my weight training. If you’re already weight training with good intensity, then HIIT may be the wrong choice for you if it is compromising your weights sessions.
- Steady cardio does not require you to be particularly supple or flexible. First thing in the morning I am a lot stiffer and more susceptible to injury. HIIT generally requires more force and greater ranges of motion and I find I am less able to do a good job with it first thing in the morning. For me at least, HIIT can only be done later in the day when I have had a few feeds and am more supple.
- Steady cardio has better heart strengthening benefits than HIIT. Heart muscle is not like skeletal muscle. In general skeletal muscle will get stronger when it is trained at higher intensities. The heart however just beats faster at higher intensities, it does not necessarily generate more force and become stronger. In fact it may not have time to fully fill with blood if it is beating very fast. That means it does not get the chance to use all its force to expel a full ventricle of blood. Steady state cardio gives the heart a chance to fill up beat strongly over an extended period, leading to a stronger heart.
You might be thinking “Ok, but HIIT is better for fat burning, so I’m sticking to that”. I’m not convinced. In the second part of this blog we’ll look at the fat burning process and I’ll present my views on steady cardio for fat burning. Go to part 2 to learn more……