Steady State cardio, while effective for keeping a healthy heart, can be incredibly repetitive and plain boring.
Ever like to workout so hard that you cant breathe after? (This is where you say yes!)
Well my friends, meet High Intensity Interval training (H.I.I.T). The idea behind H.I.I.T is that you alternate cardio methods between high and low intensity. This includes a quick burst of high energy, followed by a low intensity period..lasting between 30 seconds to a minute at a time. This burst makes the body work quicker to burn calories. Not only are H.I.I.T cardio sessions quicker than steady state cardio, they help continuously burn fat once you've stopped the exercise.
How you ask? Well simple science my dear Watson! When you put the body through a sudden burst of exercise, you make your body go through a deficit of oxygen.With normal cardio, you are always taking in enough oxygen to fuel your body for exercise. With high intensity exercise, the quick burst of movement followed by a less intense exercise means your body lacks the oxygen it needs for the movement, leading to a deficit. Your body will then spend several hours, forcing calories to be burnt to make up for this exercise oxygen debt. This phenomenon is referred to Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. The body works to replenish energy stores and oxygen during this EPOC.
What the heck does that mean? It simple terms, after you have completed your entire H.I.I.T training session, your body is working extra hard for up to 8 hours to get your body back to its resting state....all while burning calories in the process. Since this is a longer process, like when you do steady state cardio, your body uses fat as its primary fuel source.
H.I.I.T Cardio obviously burns body fat, but did you know it can retain and even build muscle mass? Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the bodies main source of energy for exercise, and studies have shown an increase in ATP following continued bouts of high intensity training. Higher levels of ATP lead to an increase in muscle recruiting which leads to an overall increase in lean muscle mass.
For most people, and by most people I mean non-professional athletes, H.I.I.T will prove to be too much and too hard to maintain doing it everyday. You can, and should, alternate bouts of high intensity training with steady state cardio.