It’s March and Spring is right around the corner…at least that’s what the Groundhog said right?! We are slowly creeping into the time of year where shorts and bathing suits are the outfits of the day. So, how are all of your health and wellness goals going so far? If you are still going strong you are awesome! If you aren’t, don’t feel bad, it’s never too late to restart. How many of you have a goal to lose some fat? Maybe you have lost fat, but you really want to lose more. Maybe you just need to lose the last 10 pounds? There are 2 different types of cardio to choose from. Naturally, when people think about “losing weight” they think about running. It’s assumed that getting in more cardiovascular exercise will help the weight drop off. This comes in the form of running, swimming, biking, walking and so much more. While this notion is true, did you know there are different ways you can do cardio? I’m not talking about the form (biking vs. running), I’m talking about the way in which you go about biking or running.
The first form is probably the form you are familiar with–long term cardio. This is referred to as L.I.S.S. (low intensity, steady state cardio). Think of long runs or bike rides at a pretty steady pace. Here’s the thing with L.I.S.S. your body burns fat directly BUT it can only burn so many calories during the workout. I love these workouts for my sanity. On a beautiful day I want to just go for a jog with my dog and feel the fresh air. It’s so nice! The cons to L.I.S.S.? While it does go for fat first, it burns fat quite slowly and that fat burn isn’t something that will continue throughout the day. Most of the time with L.I.S.S. you also get stuck in the rut of doing the same exercise every day. This can lead to a plateau in results in addition to some overworked tendons and muscles. In L.I.S.S training you may also see a lack of muscle tone and definition.
The second type of cardio is called H.I.T.T. (high intensity interval training). These types of workouts are those that include short bursts of very high intensity followed by a small recovery. This would be like sprinting for 30 seconds, then resting for 20 seconds. This type of workout is becoming more and more familiar because it’s convenient. You can workout for 30 minutes at a high intensity and call it a day. These workouts burn carbohydrates first rather than going straight to the fat, but the kicker is that after doing a H.I.T.T. workout your body will continue to burn calories all day long. That’s the beauty of high intensity. The cons to H.I.T.T.? It burns carbs first and it isn’t something you can do every day. High intensity exercise means you need a day to recover, not just for your muscles, but for your nervous system. The more intense a workout, the more taxing it is on your nervous system.
What is best for me?
Well it depends on the results you are wanting. Both types of cardio promote fat loss, just in different ways. If you want to tone up or get rid of the last few pounds, I would recommend some form of H.I.T.T. training 2 or 3 times a week. If you want to lose more than 10 pounds or are just starting your fitness journey, I say do what you love! If you have any lower body injury that prevents you from doing high intensity exercise then H.I.T.T may be more of a challenge for you. Although you can modify just about anything! There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” type of cardio. Just remember too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. It’s all about balance. For myself, I try to get in both types of workouts multiple times a week. I will dedicate 30 minutes for my H.I.T.T. workouts and save my L.I.S.S. for times when I want to have an active day with my family or friends. Maybe that balance for you includes weight lifting, yoga, or zumba. Do what motivates you and keeps you going. Don’t do H.I.T.T. if you hate it and don’t kill yourself for hours on a treadmill if you hate that. Find what you enjoy and puts you in a positive mood.
Listening to your body is the best thing you can do for it. If begin to incorporate new types of exercise into your routine, your body will get tired and so will your brain. They have to adapt and grow. Even after the learning curve, your body will get tired. It’s important to build in rest and recover days to your workout routine. Implementing these days will also help you see results faster. This allows the body to workout more efficiently.
The bottom line is to find what you enjoy and to do it. I can’t say one type of cardio is better than the other. I simply try to find a balance. If you like a challenge give H.I.T.T. a try. If you want to try L.I.S.S. set your watch and go for it. Or jump on the elliptical at the gym and watch your favorite show. Just make sure you acknowledge yourself for doing something for you!