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HIIT Cardio: Do HIIT Workouts Burn More Fat?

Hey, what’s up guys? Sean Nalewanyj, of
here. And in today’s video lesson, I want to talk a little bit about high intensity interval training-based cardio versus traditional, slow pace, long duration cardio in terms of their effects on overall fat loss and lean body mass.

Now, for those of you who aren’t
familiar, high intensity interval training workouts are a style of cardio where the trainee
basically alternates between periods of high and low intensity throughout the duration
of the session. For example, you could do 60 seconds of high intensity followed by 60
seconds of low intensity or 15 seconds high intensity followed by 30 seconds high intensity,
et cetera. There are plenty of ways that the intervals can be structured.

But the basic
idea is to train hard and explosively for short versed followed by a period of rest,
and then repeating it for anywhere from as few as five minutes up to probably a maximum
of about — of about 20 minutes. But which form of cardio is superior for overall fat
loss? Low intensity sessions in the range of 45 minutes to 60 minutes or high intensity
interval sessions in the 5-minute to 20-minute range? Now, for years we’ve been told that
we should be performing our cardio in a steady state where oxygen supply meets oxygen demand.
And the reason for this recommendation is because of the way that the body’s energy
systems work. When you exercise at a steady, low intensity pace, fat becomes the body’s
preferred source of energy.

In comparison, high intensity bouts of training performed
intermittently will mainly use carbohydrates for fuel. So, given this information, it would
seem logical that the traditional 45-minute to 60-minute brisk walks on the treadmill
are the best way to maximize overall fat loss. But if you take a look at the bigger picture,
you’ll actually find that this is not quite the case. And the reason for this is that
although long duration, slow paced cardio burns a greater percentage of body fat during
the actual session, high intensity interval-based cardio burns a greater amount of total body
fat, lasting well beyond the initial exercise. When you train at a high level of intensity,
you create an oxygen deficit within your body. And your body is then forced to burn additional
calories for several hours afterwards in order to correct that deficit. Now, this is known
as, “Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC” for short. Now, this is actually
translates to a significant amount of additional fat loss in comparison to slow paced cardio.
Well, over short periods of time, the difference is negligible.

But fat loss is a gradual process
to begin with. So this really doesn’t come as any surprise. When you take a look at the
long term effects of high intensity interval cardio versus slow paced cardio, then the
differences start to become more noteworthy. One study which I’ll link in the description
box below, actually found that over a period of 20 weeks, trainees performing high intensity
cardio burned up to nine times more fat than the group doing the regular low intensity
variation. And not only that but the group performing the high intensity cardio also
retained a greater percentage of their lean body mass as well. So, if your goal is to
loss body fat while maintaining your hard-earned muscle, this is the exact effect that you
want to strive for. Now, does this mean that high intensity cardio should be used as a
complete replacement for traditional slow paced cardio? No, that’s not necessarily what
I’m saying. All I’m really pointing out here is that in a direct head-to-head comparison,
high intensity interval training burns more fat and spares more muscle than low intensity
cardio does. However, this comes at a price.

High intensity cardio is more effective, but
it’s also more taxing on the body as a whole. So, depending on your individual recovery
ability, you know, executing a full weight training plan alongside several high intensity
cardio workouts per week might simply be too much to recover from. And this is where a
low intensity cardio can be used to help you strike a good overall balance. It may not
be as potent fat burner as high intensity cardio is, but it’s — it’s certainly still
effective, and it can help you burn through a few additional calories without overtraining
yourself. For most people following a fat loss program, a mix of high intensity cardio
and low intensity cardio is probably going to be ideal. For example, one to two high
intensity interval training workouts per week, and one to two low intensity sessions per
week, combined with your overall weight training plan. The best thing is to just play around
with it and see what works best for you as an individual. So, I hope you found this information

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