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Is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Better Than Steady State Endurance Exercise?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses if HIIT is better than steady state endurance exercise and what the benefits of each training method are.

Video Transcription:

HIIT Versus Steady State Cardio. Which Training Method Is Better For Runners, Cyclists, OCR, And Other Endurance Athletes

I stink. Good morning, family of fast, Matt Mosman the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. So, a little story for you. I was just got done running, minding my own business and while I was running, I decided to hop in the gym to get a nice cool refreshing drink or water and when I walked in I saw some dude on the treadmill, let's just call him Jacked Up Johnny, looking like he was about ready to throw up.

He saw me walk in, he's like, "Hey, bro, you're wasting all your time doing that long, slow, endurance training when you could be hitting it every day." I'm like, "Hitting it? What the freak does that mean?" But I knew what that mean. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. And Jacked Up Johnny went on to just to spew out a bunch of misinformation about HIIT training, what it is and what it isn't. And basically said, you know, again that I'm wasting my time doing long, slow cardio. 

So, I just really gave up and I just put my hand on my face and I felt like hitting myself after listening to him. So, well, this was all fresh in my mind, I thought I'd get back and shoot a video on HIIT training versus steady-state endurance training and which one is superior. So, what we're gonna do is just discuss a little bit about what both are, the benefits to each and then answer the million dollar question, if one is better than the other, but it's kind of a trick question

What Is HIIT Training?

So, HIIT training is high-intensity interval training. And basically what this involves is doing really short efforts at super maximal efforts, 90% or above with relatively short periods of rest. So, examples of HIIT training might be, you know, sprinting 100 meters as fast as you can, jogging back to the start line and repeating, or doing really intense hill repeats with minimal rest, or the same thing on like a bicycle or you can even do it with weights. But for this purposes, we're just kinda talking about endurance exercise. So, that's what HIIT is in a nutshell. 

What Are The Benefits Of HIIT?

Now, a lot of the research shows that, you know, doing HIIT can lead to some pretty significant changes in a relatively short period of time as far as increasing aerobic capacity, the ability to oxidize fat, increase in glucose transporters, increase in resting glycogen levels, and increasing overall exercise performance. So, that's a little bit about HIIT.

Benefits Of Steady State Cardio

Now, steady-state cardio what's the deal with that? Again, you're gonna get some good changes from a long slow cardio like increases in mitochondrial density, capillary density, increases in VO2 max etc. etc. etc. So, which one is superior? Really it depends what you're trying to accomplish. Let's go back to HIIT first. 

So, with HIIT, the main benefits I see to HIIT, again you can get large physiological changes in a relatively short period of time. If long, slow cardio isn't your thing and it makes you bored, HIIT my right up your alley. Also, if you're trying to maintain muscle mass, HIIT isn't quite as catabolic as long, slow, steady-state exercise. And honestly, some people again just find it more enjoyable. Now, what about the benefits of steady-state cardio? Well, golly, you know, some people really do like going out and grinding away and doing long, slow distance. You know, I also think long, slow cardio's gonna help you develop your aerobic capacity a little bit better. And honestly, like if you're training for shorter races like, you know, OCRT [SP] max or maybe like a 5K, you might be able to get by on just doing HIIT training. But if you're training for like say, maybe a 10K and beyond, I'm sorry, HIIT training isn't...just doing that exclusively isn't gonna be the best way to perform. 

What Is Better? HIIT OR Steady State Cardio?

So, again, let's go back to which one is better, neither. They both work best in combination, in my opinion. So, you know, a traditional endurance training exercise program will have, you know, long, slow distance four to five days out of the week. And then interval training, which I consider interval training HIIT, basically the same thing. Maybe there's a little bit of difference. But if you wanna really perform well, you're gonna need to do both. You know, HIIT training, doing it by itself will make you fast for short periods of time, in my opinion. Once you get to those longer distances it's not gonna make it a lick of difference. And on the same token too, you know, long, slow cardio is just gonna make you a long, slow, endurance athlete. So, you really need to incorporate both into 'em. Other than that, you know, like I said, HIIT is not better than steady-state cardio, and steady-state cardio isn't better than HIIT training. They're best both used in combination together to produce the most results, in my humble opinion. 

So, that is all I have today on HIIT training versus steady-state cardio, my endurance friends. If you have a friend who likes to hit it, please share this video with them. If you want other videos on endurance training, nutrition, and supplementation, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at www.endurelite.com. Get social with us on Instaslam and our endurance training. No, wait, hold on, our Facebook Training & Nutrition Club page. And until next time, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast and stay informed.

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