Cardio is a necessary part of every workout routine, whether you’re trying to lose weight or define your muscles. Cardio is known to help your overall health and can even help improve your mood. There are two main forms of cardio: steady state or high-intensity. Which one is better for you?
LISS: Low Intensity Steady State
Low intensity steady state is cardio that is performed at a low intensity for a longer period of time, usually 60 minutes or more. Generally speaking, it’s thought that the lower the intensity of the workout, the more energy comes from fat burning. As the intensity increases, the energy comes more from muscle tissue.
Because LISS puts less stress on your cardiovascular system and joints, it’s good for beginners or those rehabbing from injuries. It’s also ends up being a faster recovery than HIIT training. Steady state training helps to increase endurance, overall health, reduces stress, and can help burn fat.
Examples of LISS cardio includes walking on a treadmill or stair stepper.
Best for: Beginners, Low-Impact Work
MISS: Moderate Intensity Steady State
Cardio automatically pushes your body into a catabolic state that breaks down muscle tissue for energy. If you’re looking to keep as much muscle mass as possible, pushing up to a moderate intensity steady state cardio allows for a large amount of fat burning while keeping the muscle mass you’ve worked to build.
Examples of MISS include swimming, biking, running, or hiking on an incline.
Best for: Competition Cutting, Intermediate Athletes
HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT cardio is when the athlete cycles high intensity exercises with short periods of rest. Although HIIT burns muscle glycogen to create energy, it’s extremely good at creating a calorie deficit in a smaller period of time. Not only is HIIT great for building a calorie deficit, it’s also been shown to help your body keep burning fat even after the workout ends, boosting your post-exercise metabolism.
HIIT sessions should be short and limited throughout the week. Too much of this cardio can decrease testosterone and start breaking down amino acids. However, keeping them short can help increase the growth hormone that controls muscle mass and growth.
HIIT cardio is often done by athletes for its ability to improve athletic performance and heart health. Because it takes longer for the body to recover from HIIT, there is more fat burn in the period of time after the workout. They are also shorter in time and easier to fit into busy schedules.
HIIT is usually done as circuit training that cycles intense exercises with rest periods of stretching or walking.
Best for: Advanced Athletes, Burning Fat Fast
Turns out, there’s not much research to support that fasted cardio burns more calories than fed-state cardio. Although fasted cardio burns more fat during the workout itself, things even out as fed-state cardio burns more fat overall in the 24 hours after the exercise.
Plus, fasted cardio breaks down amino acids and muscle proteins more than fed-state cardio. That means fasted cardio is more likely to break down muscle mass – not a great thing.