3 Types of Cardio. Which Is Best?

There has been a lot of talk these days about HIIT training.  High Intensity Interval Training.  It has been touted as the Golden Ticket for quick fat loss results.  But is it?  

I am going to break cardiovascular training down into 3 basic types and explain to you how to do each and the benefits of each.  Then you can decide what is right for you.  

1.  Long, Slow, Distance Workouts.  (LSD)

This is what everyone is familiar with and is best for starting out and building a base level of fitness.  This includes things like walking, using the elliptical trainer, leisurely bike rides etc.  Most people find this the most enjoyable type of cardiovascular exercise and is a great way to keep your heart healthy.  However, your caloric burn will be low with this type of exercise and you will need to work at a higher intensity to achieve long term weight loss and improve fitness level.  Think of this as the stuff that is fun and will keep you healthy but will not necessarily improve your physique or your fitness level .  It is great for those with injuries, new to exercise, and for active recovery days.  

2.  Tempo Workouts

These give you great fat burning results.  They will torch calories much faster then LSD workouts.  You can use the same mode of training as in the LSD workouts.  However, you will push yourself much harder here.  These workouts should feel uncomfortable as you will be working just below your lactate threshold (that point of burning in your muscles).  It should feel doable for 15-20 minutes and should include a 5-10 minute warm-up.  These workouts are great for those that do not have a lot of time to workout, enjoy challenging themselves, and are trying to improve their overall fitness level.  

3.  Interval Training (including HIIT)

These workouts will burn the most calories and will continue to burn calories once you complete your workout.  You can do aerobic interval training or anaerobic interval training (HIIT).  For these workouts to truly be considered HIIT workouts they need to be incredibly hard.  Meaning you will go as hard as you possibly can for a very short time 10-30 seconds and recover for a minimum of 3 times that.  If you do not need that much recovery time you are not doing a true HIIT workout.  Most people will not push themselves to a HIIT level of intensity on their own (me included) but many will do aerobic interval training.  Both are effective for fat loss and increasing fitness and sports performance.  Due to the intensity they require a solid base level of fitness and should not be done more then 2-3x per week.  

I recommend that most people include all three types in there weekly workout routine.  How much and to what degree will vary greatly based on fitness level and goals.  If you would like some help determining what is right for you please reach out to me for some advice.  The most important thing is to have fun with whatever you are doing.