No matter if you are a professional athlete, fitness enthusiast or just an occasional gym goer, you couldn’t have been spared the dilemma between the two most popular and effective types of training – steady state training and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).
With a great number of available fitness advice that provide information favoring one or the other type of training, it seems like we are none the wiser when it comes to choosing between SST and HIIT.
While steady state training involves steady, longer lasting cardio exercises that burn a lot of calories, fast intervals of high intensity workouts followed by quick resting provide faster results when it comes to burning calories, fat and improving overall aerobic capacity.
Steady state training is something you have probably been doing most of your life. Whether you are jogging, swimming, dancing, running on a treadmill, or cycling, steady state involves performing any type of cardio activity at a challenging, but steady pace, for over 20 minutes, using up to 70% of your capacity.
HIIT training involves short and powerful intervals of intense activity, followed by a quick rest, with sessions lasting no longer than 20 minutes. With HIIT training you are ideally performing at 90-100 of you maximum capacity. HIIT training can be performed indoors, on a treadmill, using weights, or outdoors by running or cycling.
Rather than trying to convince you to opt for one or the other type of workout, this article is aimed at providing analysis of both types in order to give you as much information so that you can chose what fits your specific needs best. As each person has different adaptability to each type of exercise, and not everyone has the same fitness goals, the explanation of the two types of training will, hopefully help everyone decide for themselves.
HIIT can be done in 20 minutes or less while SST takes a longer time!
SST and HIIT require different time to perform. According to Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, while steady state training requires more than 20 minutes, with high intensity interval training, you will be done in 20 minutes or less. This is the reason why many busy people opt for HIIT more frequently, as they need fast results with as little time as possible.
HIIT burns stored carbohydrates while SST only burns stored fat!
As far as the type of fat being burned during a workout, SST and HIIT, again, have significant differences. Being an aerobic training, steady state training needs oxygen and runs on stored fat. HIIT, on the other hand is anaerobic, meaning the activity intervals don’t require oxygen only. HIIT is powered by stored carbohydrates. However, as the 1994 study shows, high-intensity interval training has slight advantage to steady state training when it comes to burning fat. This could be due to the ‘EPOC’, or ‘Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption’ effect of high intensity workout, that powers up metabolism even days after working out.
It’s a DRAW on Building Muscle!
Preserving muscle and loosing fat is one of the most important concern for anyone who works out. As the 2009 study suggest, longer cardio sessions of endurance training affect muscle loss.
On the other hand, a 2006 study shows no significant difference between intense interval training and endurance training when it comes to muscle gain: “Training-induced increases in muscle buffering capacity and glycogen content were also similar between groups.” Even though the promoters of each type of training would argue that the training they support is more effective for muscle sustainability, it seems that the differences are not significant.
It’s a Win for Steady state training on Improving Endurance level!
When it comes to improving endurance level, it seems that steady state training has significant advantage over HIIT. According to health and fitness expert Pete McCall, “Exercising below the ventilatory threshold for an extended period of time puts less physical stress on the cardiorespiratory system and can be an effective way to prepare for an endurance event.”
They Both Do A Good Job On boosting overall metabolism rate!
When comparing a number of important health markers such as blood pressure, overall metabolism rate and VO2 max (a maximum amount of oxygen a body can process) for both type of training, the results indicate that both HIIT and steady state training show similar but significant improvements.
A 2015 study that analyzed the effects of high intensity training vs. moderate intensity training on cardiometabolic health shows similar improvements for both types of training, with MIT showing greater improvement in overall cardiovascular fitness as it showed greater improvement in VO2peak.
Newbies Alert! Beginners are advised to start off with steady state training!
As far as the likelihood of you sticking with the workout of your choice is concerned, it is highly dependent upon your general fitness. For beginners it is much more advisable to start off with steady state training until they reach cardiovascular system and endurance levels for a more challenging HIIT workout. Although HIIT workout is more likely to keep you motivated, only trained athletes and experienced fitness enthusiasts are able to cope with the high intensity and exhaustion of HIIT.
The Bottom Line on Choosing The “Best” Workout For Yourself..
Finally, both HIIT and SST provide great health and fitness benefits, and you won’t make a mistake choosing one over the other. Ultimately, your choice should depend on your body condition and personal preferences. However, let’s not forget that a balanced approach to fitness is always the healthiest and most effective one, and it also includes healthy and balanced diet as the most important fitness and health factor.
Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com
|Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental: Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism
|Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Comparison of two lower-body modes of endurance training on lower-body strength development while concurrently training
|The Journal of Physiology: Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance
|American Council on Exercise: Steady State VS. Interval Training: Which One is Best for Your Clients?
|PLoS One: High Intensity Interval- vs Moderate Intensity- Training for Improving Cardiometabolic Health in Overweight or Obese Males: A Randomized Controlled Trial