Growing up, I was never really into sports. I was the quiet, shy, maybe a little awkward guy that kept to himself. Naturally, I found endurance running to be a perfect fit for my personality! I could hit the pavement and run for an hour+ and not have to lift a single weight, do any skill work, or worry about the judgement of others. The gym was a scary place as a skinny high school student! What kind of results do you think this provided? Yeah, there really wasn’t any… except that I could run and had very little muscle mass.
When I began high intensity interval training (meaning the combo of cardio and weight training for short, intense burst), changes began to happen. Muscle began to appear and I was getting stronger and leaner! Oh my! “Skinny fat high schooler” was disappearing! Could it be that interval training is more beneficial that endurance training? For building muscle and staying lean, absolutely. The “after burn” that high intensity training provides will undoubtedly amp up your fat loss game. “After Burn” is when your metabolism remains elevated for hours after your workout session… meaning more calories burned at rest.
While high intensity interval training has been found to yield higher fat loss and muscle gain results, there is still a place for steady state cardio. Steady state cardio could be used as recovery after intense training cycles. A peaceful jog or swim could be just what you need to flush out lactic acid and help your body return to a normal state post workout. In addition to recovery, steady state cardio will train your heart differently than high intensity training. After all, we could argue that the heart is the most important muscle in the body right?
As a fitness professional, I advise my clients to make sure they get in both types of training. I want to train both the aerobic (steady state) and anaerobic (high intensity) pathways to make sure they are operating optimally. High intensity training for muscle gain, fat loss, and after burn and steady state for recovery and heart function. If you have never tried high intensity interval training before, I would recommend taking a class or finding a workout partner to tackle it with. Finding max effort during a workout is much more fun with a group or workout buddy. You can even turn it into a competition to fuel your competitive fire! Who can do the most burpees in 35 seconds…. And GO!