There are two approaches to doing cardio for weight loss:
Long and Steady
Short and Intense
One approach gives more benefits and produces far greater results. The other approach to cardio is not only a waste of time, but it can actually help you gain weight and also cause long term damage to your body.
Let’s take a look at the comparison below:
Long and Steady
This is the conventional approach to doing cardio. When you walk into a gym, you’ll see people slaving away on cardio machines for long periods of time. This is the conventional way of doing cardio and it is very ineffective. Here is why:
- It takes many times longer and produces less results.
- This is the kind of cardio that will increase your appetite. Eating more calories = gain more weight
- Your body stops burning calories once your cardio session ends
- If you run for hours at a time, it will damage your heart and joints over the long term.
Short and Intense
The short and intense method is officially known as “HIIT” or “High Intensity Interval Training”. This method was originally created in a 1996 study by Izumi Tabata.
The study showed that the rate of increase in V02max is one of the highest ever reported. V02max is the best measure of cardiovascular fitness and maximal aerobic power. Basically, HIIT was found to be the best way to increase your cardiovascular fitness.
HIIT cardio has been steadily gaining more popularity. The results it produces just speaks for itself. Now, let’s take a look at how it compares to the conventional ‘Long and Steady’ cardio:
- Takes only 4-19 minutes including warm up and cool down. This also produces much greater results.
- This kind of cardio will decrease your appetite. Eating less calories = losing fat
- You burn more calories during the cardio session AND your body continues to burn calories for hours after your cardio session.
- It stimulates production of HGH. This hormone helps you burn fat and stay young.
- Helps you build more endurance faster
- Creates better defined legs and butt.
The original Tabata method only takes about 4 minutes, but it is more intense. Here is how you do it:
- Go 20 seconds all out
- 10 seconds of rest
- Steps 1 and 2 makes up an interval. Do 8 intervals in total. That’s it.
The second variation is less intense and I recommend that you start off this way if you have never done HIIT before. Here is how you do this variation
- Warm up for 3 minutes on a power walk speed
- Turn it up to a jogging speed for the next 30 seconds
- Turn it up to a sprint for the next 15 seconds, go all out.
- Turn it down to a power walk speed for the next 60 seconds
- Steps 2 to 3 make up an interval, repeat for 8 intervals.
For a video demonstration of this, check out my article on Cardio Routines.
You can apply HIIT to any kind of cardio exercise (treadmill, elliptical, bike). I personally prefer it on an exercise bike.
Lastly, if you have never done HIIT before, I recommend that you build your way up to it. Start with only 4-5 intervals and add in one more interval per week until you have reached 8 full intervals. If you push your body too hard right away, it can knock out your immune system for a day and being sick sucks. Progressively build up your fitness and keep it consistent. Once you can do the full 8 intervals, continue to increase the intensity gradually. You need to challenge yourself to grow.
If you’re also lifting weights to build muscle, only do HIIT 1-2 times a week to prevent overtraining.
Double Your Results
To double your weight loss, combine HIIT with intermittent fasting. Check out my article on Intermittent Fasting to learn more about it.
P.S. Just take a look at this! Marathon Runner Vs. Sprinter, which one looks fitter to you?