In 2017 a literature review found that fat loss was similar between high-intensity interval training and steady-state cardio.
STEADY STATE CARDIO VS HIIT FOR FAT LOSS ARTICLE SUMMARY
- You don’t have to only use HIIT for fat loss.
- You can lose fat with both HIIT and moderate-intensity exercise. The caloric restriction will be the determining factor for fat loss.
- Some people have personality traits that gravitate towards high-intensity exercise, whereas others do not. Find out which form of exercise best suits your needs and schedule
DOES HIIT BURN MORE BODYFAT?
For several years, performing high-intensity interval training or HIIT has been recommended to burn fat. HIIT workouts can be defined as exercises performed above a peak heart rate of 80% or more. HIIT sessions are performed in multiple short bursts in which a person exercises at a high intensity for a few seconds and then has a brief recovery period at a slower rate.
Calories burned during HIIT workouts are greater than in traditional cardio workouts. HIIT is supposed to increase metabolic rate because of the high-intensity bursts of exercise. HIIT treadmill workouts for fat loss are advocated by many fitness professionals. Contrary to HIIT, Low-Intensity Steady State Workouts (LISS workouts) has been advocated to be ineffective for fat loss compared to HIIT.
HIIT VS STEADY-STATE CARDIO
The most common example is a spin class or a treadmill program involving maximal sprints with short rest periods. Moderate-intensity continuous exercise or steady-state cardio is the exercise performed at less than 80% of a peak heart rate and over a more prolonged period (i.e., cycling or walking for 45 minutes). Some advocate that a treadmill HIIT workout is superior to fat loss to traditional cardio exercise. HIIT is advantageous for the following reasons:
a.) it burns more calories in a short amount of time
b.) HIIT can improve anaerobic performance and may improve lean muscle mass.
c.) HIIT can provide health benefits in a shorter period of time.
The biggest issue with HIIT vs. LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio) is that HIIT is exhausting to perform, especially if you are dieting. Doing several rounds of high-intensity sprint cycling isn’t realistic if you have been on a calorie-restricted diet for several weeks, especially if you are performing regular resistance exercise.
HIIT VS LISS FOR FAT LOSS: WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY IS BETTER?
What’s better for weight loss, running or HIIT is a common question by those looking to lose fat. In 2017 a literature review found that fat loss was similar between LISS vs. HIIT. (1) The meta-analysis of 56 studies examined the effects of HIIT vs. moderate-intensity continuous cardio for fat loss and lean muscle mass. The results were the following:
a.) HIIT was not superior to moderate-intensity continuous exercise for fat loss.
b.) HIIT was not superior to moderate-intensity continuous exercise for increasing lean muscle mass.
STEADY-STATE CARDIO VS HIIT RESULTED IN SIMILAR FAT LOSS
The review found that the exercise intensity and duration of cardio had minimal impact on the rates of fat loss. Thus, individuals should choose the form of cardio that best suits their needs for fat loss. (2) The author concluded, “Our findings provide compelling evidence that the pattern of the intensity of effort and volume during endurance exercise [i.e., interval training vs. continuous training] has minimal influence on longitudinal changes in fat mass and fat-free mass, which are likely to be minimal anyway.”
HIIT VS CARDIO EXERCISE PERSONALITY TRAITS
Some people like having a HIIT trainer that pushes them to their limits with high-intensity workouts such as HIIT, while others will not and will enjoy moderate-intensity cardio at a lower intensity. Some people have intensity-preference traits that influence how a person feels during exercise. (3)
These people love massacring themselves in the gym every day. If you are a personal trainer, starting a client off with a high-intensity exercise may not be the best approach for client adherence.
At lactate threshold, or the point at which lactate increases, workout displeasure rises. There is large variability when this occurs in many people—self-selected exercise intensity rather than imposed results in greater tolerance to higher exercise intensity. (4)
HIIT FOR FAT LOSS
It has been found that some people love high-intensity exercise, while others prefer more moderate-intensity exercise. If you are a personal trainer, your goal is to help your clients gain muscle by sticking to a program that works best for them. Not all clients will start at the same workout intensity; the key is to develop an individual program that fits each person’s needs.
Most importantly, a program that results in a high adherence level. If a person views high-intensity exercise as unpleasant, this will result in low long-term adherence. Despite the numerous benefits of high-intensity training, the physiological benefits that can be gained from high-intensity training will only be meaningful if a person can adhere to the program. (5)
Find a program that best fits your client’s intrinsic exercise motivation needs. Find a person’s goals starting a training program and guide them toward realistic expectations. It’s been found that from a targeted list of 21 plausible reasons for weight training, three motives were ranked the highest: personal challenge, physique anxiety, and mood control. (6)
If you start a beginner HIIT workout for weight loss, ease into a program slowly rather than jumping into an advanced HIIT class. Beginners will suffer muscle damage and major soreness in the first few days.
- Despite many people performing hiit treadmill workout for fat loss; you can lose fat with both HIIT and moderate-intensity exercise. The caloric restriction will be the determining factor for fat loss.
- Some people have personality traits that gravitate towards high-intensity exercise, whereas others do not. Find out which form of exercise best suits your needs and schedule.
1. Keating SE, Johnson NA, Mielke GI, Coombes JS. A systematic review and meta-analysis of interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on body adiposity. Obes Rev 2017; 18(8): 943-64.
2. Steele J, Plotkin D, Van Every D, et al. Slow and Steady, or Hard and Fast? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Studies Comparing Body Composition Changes between Interval Training and Moderate Intensity Continuous Training. Sports 2021; 9(11): 15
3. Allyson G. Box and Steven J. Petruzzello, “Why Do They Do It? Differences in High-Intensity Exercise-Affect between Those with Higher and Lower Intensity Preference and Tolerance,” Psychology of Sport and Exercise 47 (March 1, 2020): 101521.
4. Panteleimon Ekkekakis, Gaynor Parfitt, and Steven J. Petruzzello, “The Pleasure and Displeasure People Feel When They Exercise at Different Intensities: Decennial Update and Progress towards a Tripartite Rationale for Exercise Intensity Prescription,” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 41, no. 8 (August 1, 2011): 641–71.
5. Allyson G. Box and Steven J. Petruzzello, “High-Intensity Interval Exercise: Methodological Considerations for Behavior Promotion From an Affective Perspective,” Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021): 41.