The Workout Debate: Experts Weigh in on Cardio VS. HIIT


women run at a steady, strong pace three times per week. They even like to run on the treadmill if it is rainy or cold. It’s the same routine: 30-60 minutes continuous at an even speed.


Ram’s neighbour Neil is also dedicated. However, she stopped jogging last summer in favour of something she was told by a trainer is more efficient: She sprints hard for 30 seconds, stops for a few minutes and then does the same sprint-rest cycle for twenty minutes. She sometimes does her workouts indoors. Jane is the same as her, but she doesn’t alter the format of her sessions. It’s always a sprint then rest and repeat.


Jane and Susan look great together. They are fit and healthy. Jane has been hearing a lot lately about high-intensity interval exercise and is starting to wonder if Susan’s approach might be the right one for her. Susan, on the other hand, is starting to regret her slower workouts and wonders if slow cardio could be the best way to help her sore joints.


Both women are on the right track. Some trainers believe that steady-state cardio training is inefficient. Others counter that this traditional method of cardio exercise offers invaluable benefits that you won’t find if you push the limits every time you work out. Although many researchers recently praised the benefits of fast, intense cardio (also known as high-intensity interval or HIIT), many fitness professionals have discovered that it has its drawbacks, especially when used over long periods.


The Heart of the Matter

It is important to be clear that there are two types of cardiovascular exercise. Aerobic training is a longer activity such as running, swimming, and cycling. It takes place at low intensities (60-70% your maximum heart rate or 120-150 beats/minute). Anaerobic training includes lifting weights and sprinting as well as martial-arts training. It also includes any exercise that involves short periods of hard work, followed by light activity or complete rest. This will raise your heart rate to 150 beats per hour, sometimes up to 90% of your maximum.


Aerobic exercise is fuelled by oxygen. This provides energy for a steady pace of activity, but not explosive power. Anaerobic training is fuelled by phosphocreatine (hence its popularity as a supplement creatine to fuel it) and carbohydrate. This can provide quick energy for intense activity, but quickly exhausts. Anaerobic sessions last a lot longer than aerobic workouts, which can take up to an hour. Many believe that anaerobic cardio workouts, which include most exercise and sports, are sufficient to keep most people in shape.


However, the truth is much more complex. Although the aerobic system is less active when exercise lasts less than 60 seconds it does not shut off completely and increases in activity. The aerobic system can provide nearly half of total energy even during intense activities (such as punching heavy bags) that last less than 60 seconds. Jamieson claims that the aerobic system provides most energy after 90 seconds. This is even if you are still working hard.

This means that the more fit your aerobic system is, the higher your anaerobic performance. Jamieson says that low-intensity exercise develops the cardiovascular system, which is the network of blood vessels and supply networks that delivers oxygen to the muscles. It improves your recovery and work capacity and helps you burn more fat. The aerobic system allows us to do more work and not overstrain.


The Best of Both Worlds


Interval training is not a criticism. Jamieson points out that interval training increases endurance in the faster-twitch muscle fibres, the ones you use to lift weights and run fast. Intervals are a great way to prepare for the fast-paced sports you choose. HIIT is a great way to burn calories and get a fun workout even if you are short on time. Because it is so intense, it should be used sparingly. Jamieson says that with lower intensity training, you can do more work and not worry about the impact on recovery. High-intensity training must be properly managed as it is easy to overstrain.

To maximize cardiovascular fitness, he recommends that HIIT sessions be limited to 20-30 minutes and broken up into smaller chunks. For example, do intervals on Mondays and Thursdays. Aerobic training can be done almost every day. However, you only need three to four sessions of 20-30 minute each week, building up to 90 minutes in time. A good mix of aerobic and anaerobic cardio allows the body to perform all activities better, as well as helping you to burn fat.

However, in both of the cases, like Cardio and HIIT programs you need core strength and good holding capacity. A good holding capacity comes from grip strengthening exercise.  To make your forearm, and fingers strong, do isometric hand strengthening exercises regularly for at least 10-15 minutes. Also search videos on exercise to improve grip strength. Now you’ll get plenty of exercises that make your hand strong with good holding ability.


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