I’ve posted an article about HTT vs Steady State Training impacts on Cardiovascular Health, but cardiovascular health is just one aspect of the fitness goals we set for ourselves. So, what about HITT vs Steady State Training and their impacts on fat loss or fat burning? Is one more effective than the other? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Continue reading to find out as we look at the science and research analysis.
Instead of reading, would you rather watch and listen? If yes, check out the linked YouTube video. If no, continue reading.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM?
In case you don’t know, when it comes to HIIT vs. steady-state straining, the key difference between the two is intensity and duration. With HIIT cardio, you use a high percentage of your maximum heart rate for short periods of time (30 seconds on 10 seconds off). But with steady-state cardio, you use less of your maximum heart rate (only about 55% as opposed to the 85% average you use with HITT), and the duration is at least 45 minutes on average.
To help you visualize these differences. When doing a HIIT workout, you should barely be able to hold a full conversation because you would/should be out of breath. But with Steady State Training, although you may be breathing at a heavier than normal rate, you still should be able to hold a solid conversation during the actual exercise itself.
WHICH IS MORE EFFECTIVE AT A FAT LOSS?
Well, long story short – they both can help you achieve fat loss if done consistently. However, HITT helps you accomplish this in a shorter amount of time when compared to steady state training. And less time working out, means more time to do other things – so many people consider HITT to be more effective than steady-state training based on that alone.
To back this up, there have been many research studies on this topic over the past ten years-or-so. And most researchers find that their case studies generally lead them to come to the same conclusion regarding HITT’s time efficiency relative to fat loss.
University of New Mexico Study (1)
There was a 12-week study out of the University of New Mexico that consisted 43 women with ages ranging from 18-22 years. These women were split into three groups— with one group did HIIT, another doing Steady State, and a third group who did not exercise at all (aka the control group). The researcher measured things such as body mass, body fat percentage and abdominal fat across each of the three groups.
- Body Mass Index – A key index for relating weight to height. Abbreviated BMI. BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by his or her height in meters squared. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) now defines normal weight, overweight, and obesity according to BMI rather than the traditional height/weight charts (2).
- Body Fat – The percentage of a person’s body that is not composed of water, muscle, bone, and vital organs (3)
- Abdominal Fat – fat tissue deposited in the midsection of the body around the abdominal organs. It is also known as stomach fat or belly fat (4)
At the end of the 12-week study, they gathered the results and found that the HIIT group achieved similar levels of fat loss to the Steady group. But here is the key difference, the HIIIT group achieved equal amounts of fat loss in half the amount of time. More specifically, the average duration for the HIIT group was just 36 minutes, as opposed to 68 minutes for the Steady State cardio group. That is almost 100% more-time efficiency!
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Published US National Library of Medicine Study (5)
There was another study was published on PubMed Central via the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. For this study, the researchers looked at the comparable effects of HITT vs. prolonged continuous exercise training on abdominal visceral fat reduction in women. It consisted of 43 participants that were split into 3 groups. Group one did, group two did moderate intensity training, and group three did no training at all. They observed these subjects over a 12-week span.
At the end of the study, they also concluded that both steady-state training and HIIT groups successfully produced a significant reduction in the fat mass. However, the results also suggested that that the inclusion of high training volumes or HIIT is essential is to eliminating excess visceral fat in obese females, which supports the notion that HIIT, rather than steady state, is the more practical exercise program for combatting central obesity overall.
- Visceral Fat – Fat that accumulates around internal organs. It is more common in men than in women. It contributes to insulin resistance and other aspects of the metabolic syndrome (6).
TO CLOSE – LAST WORDS
So, what can we take from the above research studies? Long story short, HITT is a great alternative for individuals who are looking to achieve fat loss in shorter workout sessions. In other words, if you are strapped for time and cannot commit to an hour-long workout at least three times per week, a short 25-30 HITT session should help you receive the same amount of fat loss while providing you with more flexibility. It also can reduce more visceral fat than steady state cardio
But keep in mind that HITT its easier said than done because it consists of very intense and high impact movements, so it is not for the faint of heart. That said, if you have joint-related issues like arthritis, suffer from injuries, or simply are not in the best shape to tackle a HITT workout yet, it is better to stick to steady state cardio. Remember that you can still achieve the same amount of fat loss, it will just require longer workout sessions -which might be best for you depending on what your body can handle in general.
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