I have been guilty in the past of not giving steady state aerobics any respect. I am a big believer in high intensity interval training because it is extremely effective at burning body fat. I LOVE high intensity interval training. It is quick and gets results, but obviously steady state aerobics have great advantages as well. In this article I will talk about combining the two to maximize fat loss.
[“Drop That Zero and Get With the Hero!”…Quote from Vanilla Ice in the movie “Cool As Ice”. I am embarrassed that I know that…LOL!]
A Quick Background on Steady State Aerobics
Throughout the 70’s and 80’s steady state cardio was THE way to burn body fat. Everybody was pushing the idea of spending a long period of time on a cardio machine at a walking pace, to reach a target heart rate that supposedly used “fat for fuel”. This did work for people who put in the time and who ate strictly. It was particularly effective for bodybuilders, since they would burn more calories walking due to their high lean body mass.
Steady State Aerobics Worked, But Had Flaws
The problem with steady state cardio was that people began to think that they could walk at a snail’s pace and get great results. I remember going into a gym in the late 80’s and NOBODY was running or cycling at a fast rate…everyone was walking…they were all shooting for that recommended “fat burning zone”. Steady state cardio needs to be performed at a higher level for maximum results. This will be discussed later.
High Intensity Interval Training Goes Mainstream in the 90’s
I remember picking up an issue of Muscle Media 2000 in the early 90’s and it explained high intensity interval training. This was a form of training where you would go “all out” for 30-90 seconds alternated with one to two minutes of active or passive resting. I started doing this immediately in my gym and people kind of gave me strange looks. The thing is that it worked extremely well. Within 2 years, I actually saw people putting in effort in the cardio area and getting great results.
Some of the Flaws With High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
If you don’t push hard and past the pain barrier you won’t get good results with interval training. The funny thing about many cardio machines is that they have warnings that tell you to stop if you feel signs of exhaustion or fatigue…well you need to IGNORE those warnings if you want an effective HIIT workout…that is exactly what you are shooting for! Also…it has been shown in studies that performing HIIT more than 2-3 times a week is a bad idea. I’ve been guilty of doing this type of workout 4-5 times per week, but I’m now down to 2 times per week. Note: Many people suggest doing this for no more than 8 weeks before taking a few weeks off, to make sure you don’t wind up chronically overtrained.
Some People Should Actually Avoid Interval Training
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but high intensity interval training isn’t for everyone. If you are not going to push hard enough then you won’t get good results with HIIT. Steady state aerobics performed properly has helped thousands of people get lean. It has to be done with a little more intensity than what you see in a lot of gyms, but it does work well. Thousands of people have lost body fat without ever doing interval training. That being said, I still believe HIIT mixed with steady state cardio is the quickest way to reach your fat loss goals.
How to Balance the Two Types of Cardio
It has been shown that steady state aerobics can be performed daily with no adverse effects. It has been shown that high intensity interval training can be done up to 2-3 times per week…with breaks. The best way to combine these two types of cardio is largely based upon your fitness goals. I’m doing 2 days of HIIT along with 2-3 days of steady state cardio each week. If HIIT isn’t your thing you could just do 4-5 days of steady state cardio each week. If you are short on time and only workout 3 times per week, then maybe you would do HIIT and no steady state cardio throughout the week. An athlete trying to get in peak condition would possibly introduce intervals 6 weeks out from a competition, etc…there is obviously a lot of room for flexibility when combining these two types of workouts.
A Few Other Comments Regarding the Two Types of Cardio
It has been suggested to give your body a break and not perform HIIT year round. Personally I’m doing 2 months on and 1 month off. On the off month I simply do steady state 4-5 days per week. Beginners should do 4 weeks steady state cardio before introducing HIIT. The steady state cardio intensity should be at “jogging” speed. So something along the lines of 3 miles in 30 minutes if you were running…this varies of course depending upon your condition. You would also want to run a bit quicker as you get in better shape.
Note: Here is a post on a good HIIT workout that I do on a regular basis: An Aerobic Workout Program That Forces Your Body to Burn Fat
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