What Type of Training Works Best for Your Fitness Goals?
Tired of steady state cardio? Want to rev up your workouts and try something new? Regardless of your fitness goals, there are plenty of ways to ward off boredom and breathe new life into your routine. For instance, you can try a full body circuit or interval training. This will boost your motivation and spice up your workout plan. It's also a good way to keep your body from adapting to exercise and break through fitness plateaus. Each training method has its benefits and can bring you closer to your fitness goals.
Steady State Cardio
Most gym buffs hate a love-hate relationship with steady-state cardio. Some call it a necessary evil. Although you can stay fit and healthy without cardio, this training method definitely helps. Steady state cardio is effective for burning calories and building up your endurance. It also supports cardiovascular health, improves cardiorespiratory fitness, and relieves stress. The downside is that it takes a lot of time and can get boring.
This training method involves working out at a consistent, low-to-moderate intensity for prolonged periods of time. For example, when you walk on the treadmill at a moderate pace for 30-40 minutes, you're doing steady state cardio. Compared to HIIT, this training technique causes less cellular damage and metabolic waste. It also improves your body's ability to use fat for fuel, which helps preserve muscle glycogen for more intense work. This is particularly beneficial for endurance athletes.
Another major benefit of steady state cardio is that it stimulates slow-twitch (type I) muscle fibers, which improves your overall endurance. At the same time, it increases lung capacity and keeps your heart healthy. Compared to other training methods, steady state cardio puts less stress on the cardiorespiratory system, so it's safer for beginners and people with asthma, heart disease, and breathing difficulties. Even seniors and pregnant women can engage in steady state training.
Just like everything else, this training method has its cons. First of all, it requires a lot of focus and motivation. Many individuals lose their interest or find it hard to maintain the focus necessary to do cardio for an extended period of time. Secondly, it puts stress on the back and joints, which increase your risk of injuries. If you have bad knees or low back pain, you might not be able to engage in regular cardio sessions. Additionally, this may not be the best training method for those with a busy lifestyle. If you’re short on time, HIIT is a better choice.
Another downside is that steady state cardio burns both fat and muscle tissue. It can also decrease your metabolic rate, causing your body to use energy less efficiently. In general, these problems occur when you do too much cardio. Unless you're training for a race or other sports events, do not exceed 40-45 minutes of cardio per session.Remember that more isn't necessarily better. Too much cardio can stall your progress and harm your health.
Most people associate interval training with HIIT. This training method alternates periods of high intensify exercise with less intense work or rest periods. Varying the intensity strengthens your heart muscle, accelerates metabolism, and burns fat. Compared to steady state cardio, interval training produces better results in a shorter time. It not only burns more calories, but also increases metabolic rate and preserves muscle.
This training principle can be applied to both cardio and resistance training as well as to plyometric and isometric exercises. For example, you can run for 30 seconds, walk for 40 seconds, and repeat. Or you can do bodyweight squats at a fast pace for 30 seconds, followed by another set at a slower pace for 45 seconds. This training method is so intense that you'll feel your muscles burning within minutes.
As you have probably guessed, interval training puts a lot of stress on the heart and muscles. For this reason, you should only do it two or three times a week. However, it's milder on the joints compared to traditional cardio. Its benefits include:
- Increased production of lipolytic (fat-burning) enzymes
- Improved cardiorespiratory fitness
- Greater endurance and stamina
- Fat loss
- Increased metabolism
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Burns more calories in less time
- Maintains lean mass
- Challenging and intense
- No equipment necessary
- Increased EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)
- Reduced visceral fat
- Improved blood lipid profile
- Lower blood pressure
This training method has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, and stabilize blood sugar levels. It also burns calories during and after working out. These factors combined lower your risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, type II diabetes, insulin sensitivity, metabolic syndrome, and stroke. The downside is that not everyone can do HIIT. This type of workout may not be safe for beginners and people with cardiovascular problems.
Another great way to diversify your workouts is to perform full body circuits. This training method involves doing a series of exercises at multiple stations for specific periods of time or number of reps. Depending on your goals, you can opt for cardio exercises, strength moves, or both. With circuit training, you can work all muscles in less time.
Research shows that circuit training burns up to 30 percent more calories than strength training. It's also a great boredom buster and keeps your muscles guessing. When done regularly, it helps build muscle and torch fat. Gym equipment is optional. It all comes down to what exercises you choose. A typical circuit can include three, five, or more exercises repeated several times with little or no rest between sets. The best part is that you can create your own workout based on your goals and fitness level.
- The main types of training include steady state cardio, full body circuits, and intervals.
- Interval training is the most effective way to burn fat, but puts more stress on the body compared to steady state cardio
- To prevent overtraining, do not exceed three HIIT workouts a week
- Circuits provide a full body workout in less time
- Steady state cardio is beneficial as long as you don’t overdo it.