By: Anthony “Antabolic” Tedesco, BEXSc, CPT-Syntrax Elite Ambaasdor
As temperatures heat up and the swim suits come out, looking “summer ready” is becoming more of a priority to many. When it comes to leaning out, the best results come from a carefully planned program combining proper diet, weight training, and cardio. When deciding which cardio program best suits your needs, there are many different options. Should you choose steady state? Or, should you opt for interval training? Should it be short in duration, or long? While the answer can be complex and individualized, there are some basics to consider when it comes to choosing a plan that works for you. Let’s focus on learning the difference between steady state and high intensity interval training.
Steady state cardio is done at a continuous pace, usually for a longer duration of time. Your heart rate stays relatively steady and within a fat burning zone (which can be determined through a simple calculation). This type of cardio can be done by walking on an inclined treadmill, or moving at a slow to moderate paced jog, by moving at a moderate pace on the elliptical, or any other variation of moderate-paced training. You should never be so winded you can barely breathe, but you should be pushing yourself enough that your heart rate is elevated into the proper zone. This type of cardio is an ideal place to start and can be done fasted (first thing when you wake up, no food in you), or immediately post workout. Continuous periods of at least 20 minutes are most beneficial.
If you are short on time, or looking to take your fat burning to the next level, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great option to consider. In this style of cardio training, you are spiking your heart rate numerous times throughout your session. Think of it as running multiple short sprints on a track, with periods of walking in between. This type of cardio can be particularly beneficial when looking to torch body fat. Interval training can be done via sprints on the treadmill, periods of greatly increased speed on the elliptical or stairmill, or even periods of fast pedaling on the stationary bike. The idea here is to spend a period of time with your heart rate elevated, but not high (recovery phase). Then, you spend a period of time going “all out,” where you push full effort for the duration of the “high intensity” portion. One example would be spending one minute at a brisk walk, followed by 30 seconds sprinting, followed by one minute seconds at a brisk jog, and repeat. This cardio is ideal post-workout or at an appropriate time during the day, rather than fasted.
If you aren’t certain which would work best for you, it is always an option to do both over the course of the week. If you complete cardio 5 days per week, you may want to try “steady state” for three days and “HIIT” for the remaining two. Days you have less time to devote to cardio, you may want to attempt HIIT, as you can achieve an effective training session in as short as 20 minutes.
If you have any questions in regards to cardiovascular training, or topics you would like covered in future blogs feel free to reach me via the contact form on my website (www.ant-abolic.com) or direct message on Instagram (@antabolic).