Our lives are so busy with family, friends, work, sleep, trying to eat healthy, cleaning, commuting, family activities, and on and on. Fitting in a workout takes a lot of energy and planning. It’s no wonder we are all on the search for the best possible workout.
It’s not just about results, though results are what we are after. But it’s also about time. Our time is so valuable, we want to make the most of it.
So we ask ourselves this—which workout will give me the most results in the least amount of time possible?
I get this question all the time. While the answer depends on who you ask, I’ll try to simplify things for you in this blog post. I believe it all boils down to two general approaches to working out: 1. Steady-state cardio and 2. High-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Let’s talk about each of these and then compare them to see which would be best for you.
“Cardio” is aerobic exercise (meaning using oxygen) that is lower intensity but for a longer period of time. In the steady-state cardio zone, you are doing an aerobic exercise at a fairly even rate for the duration of the exercise. It’s challenging but you can still talk through it. The calorie burn happens during the exercise, not typically after it is over.
Examples of steady-state cardio would be running, walking, biking, elliptical, swimming, cross-country skiing. To be effective, steady-state cardio sessions should be 30-60 minutes a session.
Many people benefit greatly from steady-state cardio. These types of workouts are simple. They are relatively convenient. They raise your heart rate. They burn calories from stored fat. They help you lose weight. They raise your endurance. For many people, they also help lower blood pressure and increase metabolism.
High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Interval training is an anaerobic exercise (without oxygen) of short periods of intense work, followed by rest. The intervals are of very high intensity. The person doing the exercise expends as much energy as possible in a short period of time, and then rests to recover. Because of how it affects the body, the calorie burn happens over the next 24-hour period, not just during the workout.
Examples of HIIT would be weight training, a series of high intensity exercises such as squatting and lunges, hard sprints plus walking breaks, cycling classes with high and low intensity, etc. HIIT sessions are usually 30 minutes or less.
HIIT has gained more ground recently, as people are looking to spend less time working out but still getting good results. These workouts can be done at home on your own or with a DVD or at the gym. HITT are great workouts. They burn calories from stored fat. They help you lose weight. They raise your endurance. For many people they also help lower blood pressure and increase metabolism.
Which Is the Best Workout for Me?
You can research both types of exercise and find mountains of information; some say research backs stead-state cardio as the best, and some say research backs HIIT as the best. Many say it is a draw and that both are pretty equal. As you read above, there are benefits to each type.
One conclusion many have come to is that both types of exercise are key to long-term success. There are lots of “weekly schedules” online. For example, weight training one day, running the next, an interval DVD the next day, swimming the next. Talk about variety! Maybe that is something that appeals to you, but maybe it doesn’t.
If the question comes down to time, HIIT might be best for you; typically you do get more benefits doing from a shorter workout. Perhaps you will like HIIT, but then again maybe another type of exercise is more your thing. It really just comes down to one thing.
It all depends on YOU.
What type of exercise will keep you working out? Do you enjoy long distance running, or would you stick to shorter but higher intensity sprints? Are you able to spend a little more time doing steady-state cardio or would a shorter but higher intensity workout such as weight training or a Beachbody DVD fit better into your life? Would you enjoy doing one thing every day or varying your routine?
Maybe you’ve tried a few types of workouts; some worked, some didn’t. That’s because you are YOU. You have a unique personality, life, fitness goals, time, and situation. And you also change. Maybe you used to like running, but now you want to try something else. Maybe you’ve been doing yoga for a long time but want switch gears and get different results.
Maybe it’s time to explore and see what works for you right now in your life and try something new! 🙂
As always, I am here to help you find what is right for YOU.