HIIT vs Steady State Aerobic Exercise – Which one is really better

Brought to you by Brad McIntyre – Athletic Development Coach at Breathe Health Club North Lakes

More and more Australians are at risk of disease and even an early grave, much of which can be prevented from a healthy lifestyle. Risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking and obesity can all be reduced with improved cardiovascular fitness. In fact it is cardiovascular fitness that is the more prevalent predictor of mortality (Milanovic et al., 2015).

The need to maintain cardiovascular fitness has never been more important. The question remains, what type of training is best? The answer; both High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and High Volume Aerobic Training (HVT) have similar results on cardiovascular fitness, however HIIT can be performed at the fraction of the time of HVT (Faude et al., 2013)

Another benefit of HIIT is excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), more commonly known as the “After Burn” effect. When we exercise we consume more oxygen creating a deficit, this oxygen deficit needs to be repaid during recovery to return us to base level. HIIT training creates a far larger deficit in a shorter period of time. The primary source of energy the body uses at rest is fats, as the after burn created by HIIT is much longer than HVT we use more energy during recovery i.e we burn more fat post exercise.

Studies have found that increases in maximal fitness levels were higher for untrained males and females who participated in an 8-week HIIT programme (15 % increase), than they were for untrained participants undertaking a HVT programme (9 % increase) (Faude et al., 2013).

The main point to take away here is that HVT and HIIT both elicit large improvements in fitness, however these improvements can be greater with a shorter amount of “working time” only available with HIIT. So if you live a busy lifestyle and are quite time poor, or you simply wanted get more bang for your buck from your workouts, you may want to give HIIT a go.

Brad McIntyre – Athletic Development Coach.


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