Wondering what the best cardio routine for losing weight is? If so, you aren’t alone. You’ve likely heard a number of conflicting viewpoints on this as some people believe that the most ideal form of cardio is high intensity training, where you alternate periods of all-out exercise with periods of lower intensity work, while others feel that longer duration, moderate paced sessions are the way to go.
So who’s right?
Which is the most ideal form of cardio to be adding into your workout program?
In order to assess what the best cardio for you is, you need to think clearly about the pros and cons of each variation and decide which is most applicable to your situation.
Let’s take a look at the two main types of cardio training and what each has to offer.
High Intensity Interval Training
The first type of cardio to look at is high intensity interval cardio. With this form of cardio, you’re going to work at an extremely intense pace for a very brief period of time and then back off the intensity and add in a slower, more moderate paced interval.
Alternating the two like this – hard work interval with active recovery, will make up the bulk of your workout, and you’ll add a five minute warm-up and cool-down as well.
The first big advantage to this form of cardio is that it’s quick. Most sessions will last just 20-30 minutes at most, so you’ll be in and out of the gym in no time. If you aren’t fully exhausted after 25 minutes of intervals or so, this is a clear indication you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough and should be giving more effort.
The second great advantage to this form of cardio is that it’s going to boost your metabolic rate considerably, allowing you to burn more calories for up to 48 hours after the session has been completed.
For anyone interested in fat loss results, this is hugely advantageous because it’ll ensure that you create a higher overall calorie deficit and at the end of the day, this is what matters most as far as optimal fat loss is concerned.
From that 30 minute workout session, you could burn off a couple hundred additional calories that day that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Finally, the last nice benefit of high intensity interval training is the fact that it will help to increase your fitness level as well. No other form of cardio will boost your anaerobic capacity like interval sprints will and you’ll find that after doing these sprints, any steady state work that you do complete will be that much easier.
This increased fitness level will be critical for anyone who’s also participating in sporting events, which is another reason why this is the best cardio for these individuals.
One drawback to this form of cardio is that it is so intense. For those who don’t have a base level of cardio capacity, completing these sessions likely will just not be an option. They may try, but they’ll either not achieve the intensity necessary to get results, or they’ll become injured along the way.
Steady State Interval Training
Now we come to the steady state cardio training side of things. This form of cardio training is going to be ideal for beginners because it’s of the lower intensity level, so something that they can handle. Trying to perform intervals as an absolute beginner would be a recipe for disaster as they are simply too intense for you to handle.
A second nice benefit of steady state interval training is the fact that you can utilize fat as a primary fuel source. With interval training, glucose will be used, meaning that going on a low carb diet and performing intervals isn’t something that’s all that possible. Carbs will have to be eaten at some point or another for you to effectively be able to complete that workout session.
With the moderate paced trained, you don’t have to include the carbs if you don’t want to, so this can be more manageable from that point of view.
Steady state cardio training isn’t quite as taxing on the body as interval training is either, so if you’re someone who is performing three or four heavy weight lifting workouts per week and who is slightly concerned about overtraining, this may make steady state cardio training a better fit.
Too much intense exercise, especially when on a low calorie diet will be extremely hard on the body and eventually you’ll just burn out. What’s more is that if you attempt high intensity training using a very low calorie diet, especially a lower carb diet, your risk of lean muscle mass loss will be particularly high, which will then reduce your metabolic rate further, making it that much harder to see fat loss results occurring.
Steady state cardio training would be the best cardio in this scenario since it’s going to reduce the stress on the body and make it manageable to burn off a few extra calories through cardio training while still recovering as you should.
Finally, steady state cardio training isn’t as hard. Simply put, some individuals just don’t like intense exercise and won’t do it regardless of how beneficial it is.
If this describes you, then steady state will be the way to go. Some exercise will always be better than no exercise, so that’s the main thing that you must keep in mind here.
So there you have the top factors to consider with regards to steady state training and interval training. There really is no best cardio routine for loosing weight, but rather each variations offers clear benefits that are different for each situation.
If you can match your own situation to the most applicable form, that is when you can be sure that you’re headed on the path to success.[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”] Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 8 years now.[/stextbox]