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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

Steady State vs Interval Training: Are You Exercising Towards Your Goal?

Steady State vs Interval Training: Are You Exercising Towards Your Goal?

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.

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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.

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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.[1] 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.[2]

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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.”[3] 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.”[4]

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.

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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.[5]

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.

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Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

Benefits of Static Stretches

Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

Improved Flexibility

If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

Prevent Injuries

If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

Think of it this way:

When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

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However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

Improvement in Recovery

If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

  • Improved relaxation
  • Increased movement efficiency
  • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
  • Reduction in muscle tension
  • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
  • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
  • Relief from cramping

15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

1. Neck Stretch

    While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

    Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

    2. Chest Stretch

      Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

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      3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

      Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

        Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

        4. Triceps Static Stretch

          Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

          Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

          5. Biceps Stretch

          Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

            Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

            6. Wrist Stretch

            11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

              While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

              7. Side Stretch

                Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

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                8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                  Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                  9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                  Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                    Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                    Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                    10. Knees to Chest

                    Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                      Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                      11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                      How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                        Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                        12. Figure 4 Stretch

                        How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                          Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                          13. Standing Quad Stretch

                            Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

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                            Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                            14. Hamstring Stretch

                              Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                              Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                              15. Calf Stretch

                                Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                The Bottom Line

                                Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

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                                Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                More Tips on Stretching

                                Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

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