“If you aren’t doing HIIT, you’re wasting your time.”
Lately, I noticed the influx of fitness experts espousing some supreme knowledge and it goes a little something like the statements above.
Now, let me state something obvious to most. HIIT is very effective for fat loss, improving mitochondria density, increasing cardiovascular efficiency and capacity and improving protein synthesis. These are wonderful reasons to select HIIT as your weapon of choice for an outstanding physique and optimal performance. What these reasons do not warrant is an absence of low intensity steady state cardio (LISS) in your programming.
The key to maximal performance and beautiful aesthetics is to utilize both in your programming, providing you the best of both worlds for each modality. Implementing each style will result in the best YOU that can be put forward.
A little more background: HIIT
HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is a method of conditioning that involves short bursts of near maximal intensity followed by longer intervals of medium intensity work. HIIT is commonly implemented in a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of medium effort to intense effort.
Common modalities for utilizing the HIIT approach
Using the airdyne bike as an example, one may perform a 5 minute warm-up followed by 20 seconds of intense maximal effort followed by 40 seconds of medium effort, typically defined as 40-50 percent of maximum intensity. The cycles repeat themselves for 5-10 complete intervals, followed by a cool down period of 5 minutes. That’s it. You get in, bust your tail…and get out.
HIIT yields many benefits:
It’s time efficient
It increases your resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours post exercise
Improves maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max)
Lowers insulin resistance
May yield skeletal muscle adaptations
Improves mitochondria density
May lower CVD markers
Combined with a hypercaloric diet it may help increase muscle mass
This is not an exhaustive list, but it points out many, many benefits and reasons why HIIT should be included in your regimen.
“Well, what about LISS?”
Good question and I’m glad you asked. The proponents of the “HIIT or nothing” cult would have you believe that performing LISS is going to turn you into a slow, muscle deficient waste of space. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Most of you know how to perform a LISS session. If you don’t, simply hop on your favorite piece of cardio equipment, or walk out your front door and get moving. LISS is generally preformed at 60-70 percent of your max heart rate for 20 to 60 minutes per session.
The benefits of LISS are nearly endless
Improves sleep quality and energy levels during the day
Faster and more thorough recovery between workouts
Reduces chance of overtraining
Improves appetite and digestion and waste elimination efficiency
Reduced night time and afternoon cortisol lags
Contributes to a positive mood, focus and concentration, sharpens memory, less depression
Regulates breathing, counters stress-related breath holding and hypoxia
Reduces infection susceptibility, improves wound and soft tissue healing
Improves flexibility and joint stability (when correct posture is present)
Reduces seasonal allergies, Seasonal Affective and Attention Deficit Disorders
Provides for better bone density, vitamin D synthesis and bone repair
Stabilizes blood glucose, insulin sensitivity, fluid and bodyfat levels
By now, you should see that there are myriad reasons for performing each style of cardiovascular work. You may also be wondering how to fit it all in. For that reason, I’ve included a few templates: