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Cardio training - Steady state Vs HIIT

​Steady state cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are two types of cardiovascular exercises that have different benefits and drawbacks.​ Steady state cardio has been a the forefront of cardio training for a long time, but new research has shown HIIT can deliver the same benefits in a shorter amount of time without the constraints of needing cardio equipment. ​

Steady State Cardio

Steady state cardio, also known as moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), involves maintaining a steady level of exertion, such as jogging​, rowing, Elliptical or rowing ​​to name a few ​at a steady pace, for 30 minutes at a set heart rate training zone.

Some benefits of steady state cardio compared to HIT include:

1. Improved endurance: Steady state cardio is great for building endurance because it allows you to maintain a consistent level of exertion for an extended period of time.​ Beginners utilize this form of cardio due to its low impact and lower exertion principles to get started on a fitness program. ​ 2. Reduced stress: Steady state cardio can also help to reduce stress and promote relaxation by increasing the production of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. 3. Sustainable: Steady state cardio can be a sustainable form of exercise for those who prefer lower intensity workouts, or for those recovering from injury or illness.​

In steady state cardio, heart rate zones are often used to help individuals stay within a certain range of intensity for an extended period of time. The specific heart rate zones can vary depending on the individual's age, fitness level, and goals. However, a common method for determining heart rate zones is through the use of the Karvonen formula, which takes into account an individual's resting heart rate (RHR) and maximal heart rate (MHR). The formula is as follows:

Target Heart Rate = [(MHR - RHR) x %Intensity] + RHR

Where %Intensity refers to the percentage of the individual's MHR they want to exercise at. For steady state cardio, the recommended heart rate zone is typically between 50-70% of an individual's Maximum heart rate (MHR). This zone is considered to be a moderate-intensity range that can be sustained for an extended period of time without causing excessive fatigue. However, individuals should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program to ensure they are exercising at a safe and appropriate intensity level. As stated above training at 50-70% of maximum heart rate (MHR) corresponds to a moderate intensity exercise level. This level of intensity can have several physiological effects on the body, including: 1.Improved cardiovascular function: Training at 50-70% of MHR can improve cardiovascular function by increasing heart strength and efficiency, improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles, and reducing the risk of heart disease.​ THis is known as the aerobic training zone.​ 2. Increased aerobic capacity: Regular training at this intensity level can increase the body's ability to use oxygen, leading to improved aerobic capacity and endurance. 3. Improved metabolism: Moderate-intensity exercise can improve the body's ability to burn fat and carbohydrates for energy, leading to improved metabolism and weight management. 4. Reduced stress: Exercise at this intensity level can promote relaxation and reduce stress by increasing the production of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. 5. Improved mood and cognitive function: Regular moderate-intensity exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and enhance cognitive function.

HIIT cardio

HI​I​T involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. ​Classes in club like GRIT and SPRINT offer HIIT programming at 30 minute ​durations delivering big calorie burns at short durations with most of the cardio machines offering HIIT programming in their systems. Some benefits of HIIT compared to steady state cardio include: 1. Burns More Calories: HIIT can help burn more calories in less time compared to traditional steady-state cardio exercises. The high-intensity intervals increase the metabolic rate and the afterburn effect, which can help burn more calories for up to 24 hours after the workout. 2. Time-efficient: HI​I​T workouts can be shorter in duration compared to steady state cardio while still providing similar or better cardiovascular benefits. 3. Increased metabolic rate: HI​I​T can boost your metabolism, leading to increased calorie burn and potentially aiding in weight loss​ long after your workout​. In High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), the heart rate zones used will depend on the specific protocol being followed. Generally, HIIT workouts involve alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of lower intensity recovery or rest. During the high-intensity intervals, the heart rate may rise to 80-90% of the maximum heart rate (MHR) or even higher, depending on the individual's fitness level and the specific workout. This zone is known as the anaerobic zone, where the body relies mainly on stored energy sources rather than oxygen to power the exercise. During the recovery or rest periods, the heart rate may drop to 50-70% of MHR, which is the aerobic zone. This zone is where the body relies on oxygen to produce energy, allowing the muscles to recover and prepare for the next high-intensity interval.

4. Improves cardiovascular health: HIIT can improve cardiovascular health by increasing heart function and oxygen uptake, reducing blood pressure, and improving blood sugar control.

5. Builds lean muscle mass: HIIT can help build lean muscle mass, which can increase metabolism and promote fat loss. The high-intensity intervals stimulate the production of growth hormone, which is essential for muscle growth.

6. Increases endurance: HIIT can help increase endurance by improving the body's ability to tolerate high-intensity exercise for longer periods.

7. Can be done anywhere: HIIT workouts can be done anywhere, with or without equipment. This makes them a convenient option for people who prefer to work out at home or while traveling.

Ultimately, the choice between steady state cardio and HIT depends on individual preferences and goals. Both types of exercise can be effective for improving cardiovascular health and fitness. It is recommended to incorporate both types of exercise into your routine for optimal results. Consult with one of the trainers in the gym to see how you can incorporate both cardio types into your routine and work them to the right capacity.


Fraser Gunn

HND Sports Therapy

BSc Sport and Exercise Science

TRX Certified

TPI Certified

Les Mills Instructor - Pump, Attack, Tone, GRIT and Sprint

Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor , The GYM @ Milford and The GYM @ Norton

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