The Elite Physique

Steady State Cardio vs. HIIT – Which is Best?

Steady State Cardio vs. HIIT For Extreme Fat Loss

steady state cardio vs HIIT

Last time; steady state cardio vs. HIIT.  Which do you thin is best?  While many competitors implement a clean prep diet, that’s only part of the equation.  Steady state cardio is another working factor.  Not everyone can rely on diet only to drop body fat.  Some figure athletes need to use diet AND cardio to burn off excess fat stores.  But, how do the two compare?  Which is best for fat loss. steady state cardio vs. HIIT has been a long running debate.  Let’s take a look at each.

Once you decide that you need to add in cardio to ramp-up your metabolism and fat loss efforts, you then need to decide what type of cardio will work best for you.

  1. Long Duration Steady State Cardio
  2. High Intensity Interval Training

Long Duration Steady State Cardio

A long duration steady state cardio workout generally runs 30-60 minutes at a steady pace.  This type of cardio format can be performed on the treadmill, elliptical, bike and other similar cardio equipment, as well as walking or jogging outdoors.

Steady pace cardio is a good fat burner, burning 500-600 calories for every 30 minutes engaged.  You can burn even MORE calories by increasing the incline on the treadmill or increasing the intensity on the elliptical or bike. By being able to burn a hunk of calories using SS cardio, you can create a caloric deficit without having to shave off a lot of daily calories.

Personal trainer, Cathe Friedrich, makes note, “Steady-state cardio is a good alternative for beginners who aren’t ready for higher intensity training. Steady-state cardio still burns significant calories and fat, although this will usually decrease over time as the body adapts. It also “teaches” your body to better use fat as a fuel source.”

Long duration cardio is a great way to increase your overall endurance if you are a bit out of shape.  However, for some it can be time consuming or boring.

If you start with long duration cardio, begin with just 3 sessions 30-45 minutes a week and progress the format every 2 weeks only slightly.  The steady state cardio vs. HIIT debate doesn’t stop there.  Let’s take a look at HIIT.

High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) usually runs for 15-45 minutes using various paces to keep the body off guard.  HIIT can be performed on nearly any piece of cardio equipment and even running and sprinting outdoors.woman doing HIIT training

HIIT programs use alternate paces such as alternating 1 minute of jogging with a 30 second sprint, repeating that format for 15-45 minutes.  You can break your HIIT ratio up how you like such as:

1:30 (1 minute jog: 30 second sprint)

1:1 (1 minute jog: 1 minute run)

1:2 (1 minute jog: 2 minute run)

2:1 (2 minute: 1 minute run)

2:2 (2 minute run: 2 minute jog)

HIIT is not as time consuming as long duration cardio, but due to its extreme intensity, some beginners don’t have a tolerance for it and would be better off breaking in a few weeks using steady state cardio.

Where to Start?

Now you have the 411 on steady state cardio vs. HIIT.  If you are a first time figure competitor and have 20% or more body fat to lose, start with long duration SS cardio.  When your body fat drops to 18%, then you can begin to engage in HIIT.

Start long duration cardio by using a moderate intensity, 65% of your maximum heart rate (220 – your age). Begin with 30 minutes 3 times a week for 2 weeks, then progress that amount slowly every two weeks.

Once you’ve reach 18% body fat (or you are currently that or less) you can implement the HIIT tactic as a fat loss method. When using HIIT, toss the maximum heart rate stuff out the door.  Let’s workout HARD and SWEAT!  If you do your HIIT on a machine, keep the intensity light to allow you to go FAST!

When to Do Cardio?red arrow pointing down

Now that we discussed steady state cardio vs. HIIT, you should feel more solid in your cardio choices.  You are not locked in a set time when to perform your cardio.  There is room to play here.  If you are prepping for a figure competition, you can either do cardio immediately after weight training, or a separate time of day, 6 hours from training.

The thing to remember when planning your cardio for your figure prep is to not carry all your eggs in one basket.  You always want something to fall back on for when that dreaded plateau hits.  Take these tips and use them to your advantage so you can shave off the body fat.


Learn More Cardio Tips to Burn Fat

Learn exactly how to implement cardio to melt off that nasty body fat.  Get in on my FREE Contest Prep Crash Course so you can transform your body.  FREE Instant Access.  Click the link below...

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Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT

Learn More Cardio Tips to Burn Fat

My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

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