Cardio holds a great amount of controversy when it comes to whether or not it is the quick fix for burning fat. Depending upon your cardio method, you may be limiting yourself!
When it comes to changes in body composition (we are talking, fat and muscle ratios), we all are now aware that cardio does not fix this problem alone. With the flood of studies showing that lifting weights contributes much more towards fat loss and body composition, cardio seems to be going out of style…
With this information being present, we have been eager to discuss this to ensure we are moving in the right direction.
What Cardio Should You Be Doing? Should You Be Doing Cardio At All?
With the two most commonly used forms of cardio being HIIT and LISS, we will compare them to the bare bones for you guys! Upon finishing this article you will know what cardio to do, how to do it and more importantly, WHY you are doing it.
Wait a minute, your probably thinking, I have seen HIIT before and know what that means, but what the hell is LISS? What are you talking about?
Starting off with the slower paced LISS, Low Intensity Steady State cardio is made up of what we just said, a low intensity cardio workout. Lets get practical, LISS involves long duration walks on a treadmill or also known as, where mothers at the gym carry out long-winded conversations on the treadmills or bikes! Long enough conversations to burn a few hundred calories I might add…
On the other hand, HIIT is the acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. This form of cardio entails the use of a mixture of low to medium level of intensity alongside short sprints; both utilizing intervals. For example, 30-60 seconds of intense sprinting followed by a 5 or so minute paced walk on the treadmill to cool off and lower that heart rate of yours back to around 120-130 bpm.
Rinse and Repeat.
Now you have understood the two forms we are referring to, its time to introduce the mind-numbing scientific bit! Let’s chuck LT & AD into the mix now that we know what HITT and LISS are. Hang in there guys, by the end of all of this, you’d have reached the 50 – 75 calories burned mark!
LT stands for Lactate Threshold and AT stands for Anaerobic Threshold…This letter stuff can drive you mad but it is important so hold on!
The Scientific Stuff.
Two thresholds! Two targets!
The most accurate and definitive predictors of cardio performance involves testing your Anaerobic (AT) and Lactate thresholds (LT). These tests will predict your levels of Adenosine Triphosphate production when carrying out HIIT or LISS. Why are these important? Well, the production swiftly releases energy when contracting the muscles.
By utilizing HIIT, these two thresholds will be reached, surpassed and once the exercise has been completed, it will improve your metabolism and your capacity for that exercise in the future. Unfortunately, LISS doesn’t perform so well with AT and LT. When doing LISS, AT and LT are not reached, nor surpassed, therefore your metabolism will not improve.
Let’s put it simply – If you can hold a conversation whilst doing cardio, then you are not hitting the AT and LT levels required for fast fat loss, therefore you are not changing your metabolism. For those that wish to improve more upon speeding up their metabolism to increase the amount of fat they burn this information should help!
And if you thought that was the end of the scientific stuff, think again. But this stuff is crucial in understanding what you really need to do to change your metabolism.
Increase your muscle oxidative capacity! By increasing your muscle’s oxidative capacity, more ‘Mitochondria’ are produced (weird name but it translates in simple english to units that your muscles produce for energy). These Mitochondria produce and release ATP, so the more mitochondria, the more ATP being released = more fat is burned.
Increase your muscle mass! Correlating with the previous point, more muscle mass means more oxidative capacity!
So What’s The Answer?
Do more HIIT! This is backed up by studies which state that you burn more fat through HIIT because of the increased oxidative capacity compared to LISS. Therefore, HIIT burns more calories, alters muscular metabolism which both in turn boost your metabolism rate = reduces fat levels. Maximize that energy usage!
LISS of course does assist in weight loss as it is obviously a form of exercise where we output calories, but it just can’t compete with HIIT at the rate of fat loss, it is a lot slower.
We see so many people at the gym spending countless hours on hours a week just walking on the treadmill as their form of exercise. If they have a calorie deficit, after taking into account their food intact, they will initially loose the pounds. We italics the word initially because, our body is adaptive! Especially with LISS as your body and your metabolism adjusts eventually to the low intensity exercise. It just doesn’t cut it because LISS only burns calories at the time you spend doing it, its not a 24 hour energy expenditure exercise (it doesn’t keep burning calories post LISS in comparison to HIIT and weight training).
Let’s Not Leave LISS Out Of This!
You can’t do HIIT all the time! By doing HIIT more than 4 or 5 days a week will lead to growth interference when it comes to your weight lifting and muscle building. Overdoing HIIT can do damage that leads to injuries severe enough to put you out of the game for a few months.
Lastly, it is often suggested to people with cardiovascular and/or orthopedic issues to avoid HIIT and instead do LISS. This is because the intensity is too much; unfortunately LISS is then the only surviving option.
The Wrap Up
You need both types of training! Would your life be your life eating bread without the butter..? No!
A good mixture of HIIT and LISS will allow for improved muscle mass, oxidative capacity and metabolism activation for increased fat loss. A good example of training would be to do HIIT 1-2 times a week and the remaining days to do LISS. Should you prefer a 5 day week, always leave at least one or two days of pure weight training to keep yourself lean! Avoid the path that leads to the stick insect figure!
Get out there! Everyone has their own routine that works uniquely for them, hitting muscles harder than others. When it comes to HIIT and LISS, everyone will have their own preference. You will always notice the HIIT addicts doing their crazy fast sprint bursts whereas, the LISS trainers will be seen power walking for hours daily.
Remember HIIT hits fat and metabolism changes harder than LISS but, you’re more likely to cause injury with continuous exercise. On the other hand, LISS may hit fat on a much simpler level, taking twice as long but, your safety is guaranteed!
Well done upon reaching the end of the article and getting passed the boring stuff!?
Hopefully your new found knowledge will be put to the test! Get out there and get the body you’ve always wanted and deserved now that you how it all works!