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HIIT vs. Long Distance Cardio

Background

Weight loss is a hot topic in the fitness world. Whether we’re talking about people overcoming being overweight, looking to lose the last 5-10lbs or somewhere in between, most people are looking to lose weight. Possibly a more accurate statement would be, most people are looking to lose fat. Most people would agree that they don’t really care what the number on the scale says as long as they look exactly the way they want to look. For the sake of this article let’s refer to this topic as fat loss.


When most people think of exercising for fat loss they think of going for a run, usually long distance. For a long time in the fitness world, this was thought to be the best way to train for any endurance sport and the best way to exercise for fat loss. Relatively recently we’ve learned that there are ways of training that are more specific to one’s sport that allow for better carry over, and we’ve learned there are ways of training that produce more significant fat loss.


What is HIIT?

An alternate to performing long steady state cardio is training using intervals. This style of workout is commonly referred to as high intensity interval training (HIIT). In HIIT, one performs an exercise or movement at a high intensity for a brief duration of time, followed by a timed rest period. After the short rest interval, they repeat another training interval. This repeats any number of times until the workout is complete.

A common format is Tabata.

20 seconds of work

10 seconds of rest

8 rounds (4 minutes)


Does it Work?

High intensity interval training has risen in popularity and has scientifically been proven to better stimulate fat loss.



It is still a newly researched topic and more studies should be analyzed before firm conclusions can be made, but HIIT, or HIIE as referred to in a number of studies seems to be more effective in stimulating fat loss when compared to long endurance cardio or steady state exercise as referred to in studies.


More Bang for your Buck!

Another appeal to HIIT training is its brevity. A common excuse for why people don’t workout is they don’t have the time. HIIT offers a solution for people with that issue. Instead of going for a 30 minute run, one could complete 10 minutes of intervals at a high intensity and get even better results. If the intensity is high enough, 10 minutes should be a brutal amount of time to perform intervals.


In a study by EG Trapp (the one the second image comes from) they compared three groups. One group exercised 36 minutes a week using HIIT and the other group exercised 120 minutes a week with steady state cardio. The HIIT group saw significantly greater losses in fat mass than the endurance group in spite only working out for nearly one third of the time.


If you’re a part of the 49% of American’s looking to lose weight2, and or someone who is having trouble finding the time to work out in your busy day, perhaps give HIIT a try. There are plenty of varying interval workouts online with Tabata being one of the most popular ones, and it wouldn’t take more than a quick Google search to find one.


If you have any questions about HIIT, why it works, example interval times, recommended days per week, etc, leave a comment below or send us an email through our contact page.


  1. Boutcher S. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal Of Obesity. January 2011;:1-10. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 11, 2016.

  2. Swift A. Fewer Americans in This Decade Want to Lose Weight. Gallup News Service. November 22, 2016;:1. Available from: Business Source Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 11, 2016.

  3. Trapp E, Chisholm D, Freund J, Boutcher S. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal Of Obesity. April 2008;32(4):684-691. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 11, 2016.




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