We are well aware that Cardio is the best form of exercise to achieve any kind of weight or fat loss. But to understand the intensity required to achieve this, is still a little unclear. While researching, I kept coming back to the same question, what’s better – high-intensity or low-intensity training? There’s just way too much information trying to sway readers without considering their individual goals and needs.
Don’t worry! We’ve put together a few things you should know about in this article. It will give you a better idea of what low-intensity and high-intensity cardio training mean and will also help you decide which one you should go for!
Low Intensity Cardio
This workout encompasses consistent movements anywhere between 30-60 mins. It includes walking, cycling, swimming, light jogging, etc. The intensity is approx 40-60% of your maximum heart rate (your maximum heart rate = 220 – your age).
- Consistent movements help maintain a steady heart rate (one can talk while doing any of these exercises)
- You use more oxygen in these kind of exercises (hence fat is used as energy source)
- Helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by promoting good blood circulation
- Reduces hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels) in people with diabetes
- Builds muscular endurance
- Due to the principle of adaptation, the body quickly adapts to become more aerobically efficient. So only doing low intensity training can eventually become counterproductive to your goals, especially if one of your goals is long-term fat loss or when you hit a plateau.
- To keep up with the body’s quick aerobic adaptation process, a person would need to continually run for longer and longer distances and durations just to burn the same amount of calories they did when they first started.
High Intensity Workouts
These workouts include quick, intense exercise bouts and short rest periods. Ranging from 4-30 minutes max. These types of workouts include a combination of sprints, burpees, squats, jumping jacks, pushups and an endless variety of other drills using only body weight or sometimes equipment like dumbbells or kettlebells. The intensity varies from 70-90% of maximum heart rate with 60-65% max heart rate in rest periods.
- No equipment or gym needed as it can be done anywhere (great for frequent travelers)
- Helps build muscle mass
- Time efficient: energy is burned more quickly and even after exercise
- Anaerobic exercise, since there is no time for oxygen consumption, the body burns more carbs
- Because of the oxygen debt created, the body consumes extra oxygen post workout (EPOC- excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and hence, continues burning fat post workout as well. So it has the dual benefit of carb and fat burning.
- The body requires a day or two post HIIT for recovery, so this form of workout cannot be done daily.
- It is physically intense! They are also harsh on your joints due to the high impact forces created in exercises like Burpees or Squat Jumps. So, if you’re just starting your fitness journey or have weak joints, HIIT cardio may not be the best place to start.
Which One Should You Choose?
It depends on you, your current level of fitness, your preferences and goals. Low-intensity is a great place to start if you have not worked out for a long time or are recovering from an injury. But if you already have experience and want to switch things up, lose some weight quickly or finally achieve your goal of going faster or further, give intervals a try. Don’t forget to be mindful of your body. Take breaks when you need to, don’t overtrain. Your body needs to rest, heal and progress!
Stay active and #BeTheForce