Three Forms of Cardio and Which One Is Best for your goals
Cardio. Do you love it or hate it?
There are typically those that love it...
and those that hate it....
Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, cardio can be beneficial to your overall health. Here's a few reasons why it's good for you,
It helps you burn fat
It makes your heart strong
It increases your lung capacity
It can help reduce your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
It helps you sleep better
It can help to reduce stress
While many of use are probably aware of the benefits of cardio, did you know that there are different forms of cardio? Each can be beneficial to you depending on your goals.
LISS - Low Intensity Steady State - walking, light biking etc. MISS - Medium Intensity Steady State - jogging, swimming, biking at a faster pace HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training - Work hard for a time interval, then rest for a time interval. Run for 1 minute, walk for 1 minute.
In most cases, the goal of adding in cardio is to achieve a negative energy balance or a calorie deficit. Meaning your burning more energy than you are taking in which is what will result in weight loss.
One big thing you should do when adding cardio into your fitness routine, is to track your cardio just as you would your lifting and progress over time. Your body will adapt to whatever you are doing if you continue to do it over time. So if you start out going balls to the wall, your body will adjust and you'll struggle to increase from there. So if you're just starting with running (MISS) you might start at 10 minutes total, then gradually increase that time.
Now, let's chat about which one is best for you
MISS - is probably the most popular but the least effective. Doing MISS all the time can be hard on your body and very time consuming. It can put very hard on the joints, and can put your muscle at risk of loss if you're doing more medium intensity cardio. With that said, a lot of people really enjoy MISS (running, biking, etc.) so if that's why you do it, that's great! You should do what you enjoy but do keep in mind that it's not the best option if you have weight loss or physique goals.
HIIT - Right now HIIT is super popular. There are HIIT classes popping up all over the place and that is because YES, it is a very effective way to burn fat. Not only that, but it can be done in a short amount of time which is another reason it is so popular. However, HIIT can have a negative effect on your weight training if muscle growth is a main goal. This is because when you're in a calorie deficit already, you're body has a harder time recovering. Then when you add in HIIT, you have an even harder time to recover which can really burn out your body and affect your strength training session. Which is key to building muscle. It's also a harder method to track and progress over time. A lot of people overdo it with HIIT (hello Orange Theory 5 days a week!) which can burn your body out and again affect your strength training sessions. HIIT should be used as a tool to throw in every once in awhile or when you really need it so you can get the most out of it. A specialized tool if you will that will help propel you to your goals. If increasing your performance, speed, or endurance is your main goal, HIIT is an awesome tool to use!
LISS - The most underused form of cardio. Essentially, walking. If your goal is to lose weight, one of the best things you can do is to add in LISS and track it. If you wear a fitness tracker, you start watching your steps. If you're walking 6,000 steps a day, add in 4,000 extra steps for a few weeks. Then increase that even more. Start walking 12,000 steps a day. You can easily increase this by parking further away at the store, walking the dog, moving more through the day. It's very easy on your joints, and your body overall which can help you with your recovery, your muscle growth and still put you in a calorie deficit which is essentially what you're going for if fat loss is your goal.
So, to summarize, number one when adding in cardio should be what is your goal. If it's fat loss, you first need to pick something that you can track. MISS or LISS are easily trackable and can still put you in a calorie deficit. If performance is your number one goal, adding in HIIT a few times a week can definitely help you to do that but it's also a good idea to do it in conjunction with strength training or LISS. If cardiovascular health is your main goal, adding in a combo of LISS and MISS is a great idea as both are excellent for cardiovascular health. If increasing strength (AKA - toning up) is your main goal, then strength training should be your main focus. Adding in cardio can help you to achieve fat loss but as mentioned above, MISS or HIIT can negatively affect muscle building. So LISS would be the best choice for that goal.
Hope that helps to decipher cardio forms and assist you in choosing what's best for you!