“Cardio is useless, a waste of time, it eats muscle, it’s boring….” The majority of fat loss experts are now swinging away from long slow distance type cardio as part of a weight loss intervention and overall health.
In theory (and it would seem in practice, too), the concept of HIIT (High intensity interval training) as a superior method for blubber-burning is valid. But is the pendulum swinging too far?While the literature, the forward-thinking fat loss experts and my own personal/professional experience side with the weight training/intense cardio mentality – there are limitations and caveats to this school of thought. Here’s what I think.
- The people that need to boost their health and lose fat the most need to establish a cardio-respiratory base. Trying to push an unfit individual to their physical extremes can be dangerous. Furthermore, physical discomfort is not conducive to continuing an activity and therefore long term success.
- High intensity training requires rest. Even if you are at a higher physical level, interspersing longer, slower cardio into your routine is advisable.
- Interval training does not have to be intense. In fact, you can incorporate intervals with the even the most unfit individuals.
- You can still mix it up. You can perform longer, slower distance cardio on different modes (ie. treadmill, bike, elliptical) and even incorporate intervals on those modes.
- Longer, slower cardio still burns calories. It still exercises your heart and lungs and it still helps stave off many diseases and ailments.
- Once you’ve established a good cardio base, incorporating more intense cardio is warranted. Be sure you are mentally prepared for such efforts
- Long, slow cardio or intense cardio in the absence of weight training will limit the benefit of fat burning.
It becomes easy to get carried away with the “method A is superior to method B” mentality. There is certainly an advantage of doing HIIT-type training vs. long, slow distance cardio when it comes to effectiveness and efficiency.
I believe, however that it needs to be progressive and integrative and that we have to rid ourselves of the mentality that longer, steady state cardio is useless. This type of activity can be monumentally beneficial for those who need it the most.