Traditionally, CV (cardiovascular exercise) meant going for a run for an hour, using an elliptical machine, or generally just exerting yourself for a long period of time at an intensity that you’re capable of maintaining.

The idea was that this form of exercise would keep you in the ‘fat burning zone’. This is 120BPM because at that speed, the heart is still able to keep up and provide energy to the muscles from the fat stores. Go faster than this though and you reach the ‘anaerobic threshold’, meaning that your body now doesn’t have time to burn fat for energy and can only rely on glycogen stores, blood sugar and ATP in the muscles.

Seeing as we want to burn fat, maintaining continuous exertion at 120BPM seems to make sense.

Then came HIIT. This is ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ and the idea was to exert yourself to a massive degree for a short period. That would mean running or even sprinting for 1 minute and then recovering by jogging slowly for 2 minutes before starting again.

This means you are now alternating between aerobic and anaerobic energy. What that means is that you’re testing both energy systems in the body and forcing your body to create more mitochondria and to become more energy efficient. What’s more, is that you’re using up all the blood sugar and glycogen during the anaerobic periods, thereby forcing your body to look for energy elsewhere the rest of the time. This causes what’s known as the ‘afterburn effect’, where the body has to run on fat for a long time after your training because of all the sugar it has burned already.

Although steady state cardio burns more fat in the short term then, it was found by research that HIIT would lead to more fat loss in the long term. And what’s more, is that it doesn’t take as long seeing as you’re pushing yourself so hard.

But before you get carried away and throw out steady state cardio, consider a few factors.

The first is that steady-state cardio is good for your heart. Really good in fact. Only steady state cardio (not HIIT) is able to increase the size of the left ventricle in the heart. In turn, this makes it more effective at pumping large amounts of blood around your body and therefore means it doesn’t have to pump as fast. In other words, this is how you can lower your resting heart rate so that your body is better at resting and staying calm when you’re not training.

And as we’re going to see in a moment, this is great for muscle building. With a lower resting heart rate you will sleep much better and that results in much more anabolism and muscle repair during that time. It’s when we rest that our muscles repair.

This also means you’ll be better able to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the muscles while you’re training and while you’re recovering, which will result in more muscle growth. This also means you’ll have much more energy both in order to start training and in order to make sure that those training sessions are highly productive and allow you to exert yourself fully.

And on top of all that, jogging is still a great way to burn a lot of fat and to get a more ripped and lean physique. As much as it’s not in vogue right now, it’s the form of CV that was used by Arnie, by Franco Columbu and by Sergio Olivia (all famous bodybuilders).

So guess what my advice is here once again? Combine both. Use a combination of HIIT and steady state by using the former as a ‘finisher’ at the end of a workout to burn more calories and by using the latter once a week for 4-7 kilometres in order to increase your cardio fitness and help you rest more.

Once again, the law of SAID means that you’ll this way see the most extensive results as you’ll adapt to both shorts spurts of exertion and longer, continuous stints. The result is the better body and the more powerful physicality.


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