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High Intensity Training vs Cardio

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 10/23/2019

Is High-Intensity Training Really "More Aerobic than Aerobics"?

Proponents of high-intensity training, or HIT, will tell you that the method covers ALL of your fitness bases, from strength to flexibility to aerobic fitness.

In fact, some HIT practitioners of the past have taken up the slogan that HIT is “more aerobic than aerobics.”

But can HIT really deliver all of those benefits and render cardio training unnecessary? As is usually the case with these things, it depends on your goals.

Where HIT Wins

If your goal is to get as big and strong as possible, and then to get ripped, you very likely can do so with HIT alone.

The reason comes down to muscle and the powerful contractions that lifting weights entails. Simply put, muscle is active tissue and burns calories even while you’re resting.

If you train hard enough to build muscle, then, you will be burning more calories over time than before you had that extra muscle. What’s more, the very act of creating new muscle requires a lot of calories, so you’re less likely to store fat after training intensely than if you’re sedentary or engaged in relatively light activity — like aerobics.

When you’re ready to trim down and get really cut, diet is by far your most important tool. While you have to walk or run about a mile to burn 100 calories, you can cut 100 calories from your diet by dropping a slice of bread or a serving of raisins.

Where Aerobics Wins

If you’re concerned with heart health or endurance performance, then aerobics holds some definite advantages over weight training.

In particular, aerobics have been shown time and again to improve maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max), a key indicator of your capacity for hard heart and lung work, which can directly impact your quality of life.

You may be able to get even better results by employing interval training, sometimes called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. Studies like this one indicate that HIIT improves VO2 max even better than steady-state aerobics, and HIIT tends to burn more calories over a given period of time, too.

The major drawback to HIIT is that the sprint intervals often cross over into the anaerobic area, which makes them akin to strength training. Adding intense workouts to a schedule that already includes regular HIT work can lead to overtraining.

What’s the Solution?

Most lifters are interested in building big, ripped muscles, but also becoming and staying as healthy as possible. If that fits your situation, then you’ll probably want to combine HIT with some sort of aerobic training.

When adding aerobics to HIT, though, be careful not to overdo it, and keep an eye out for symptoms of overtraining. Those include fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, and loss of strength.

For most hardcore HIT lifters, steady-state aerobics will likely be a better choice than HIIT, as that will limit your chances to overtrain.

No matter which protocol you choose, realize that there is no silver bullet. While HIT can be a great way to get big and strong, it won’t meet all of your fitness needs on its own.

Want Even More HIT Information?

If you want to learn ALL about high-intensity training to figure out if it’s the right approach for you, be sure to check out High Intensity Training for Bodybuilding.

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