HIIT Cardio vs Steady State Cardio

HIIT Cardio vs Steady State Cardio

So the debate between HIIT cardio vs Steady State wages on, and if you’re trying to figure it out for yourself, then let us quickly brief you on both forms of cardio:

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training.  This form of cardio consists of all out, high intensity, short bursts of maximum effort cycles, with longer rest period recovery cycles.  


15 seconds of all out sprints, followed by 45 seconds of walking.  Rinse & Repeat the process. 

Not so bad, right?  5 rounds equals 5 minutes, and you are done!  Simple, right? Don’t be fooled by those fitness enthusiasts that believe that interval cardio consists of a 1-minute hard sprint followed by 2-minutes of a slower pace cycle.  This is by no means what HIIT cardio is all about, but we see this method butchered by so many fitness gurus. For the overall purpose of this article, and for you to really gain a true sense of what HIIT cardio is all about, let's stick with what we believe HIIT cardio really embodies!  Let’s weigh in on the pro’s and con’s:  


  • Done very quickly
  • Saves a lot of time
  • Burns calories in a short amount of time



  • Drains your CNS (central nervous system)
  • Hard on the joints
  • Takes along time to recover from


Steady State Cardio or LISS (Low Intensity Steady State), is your traditional medium to fast pace walk where the duration is a 30 minute to an 1-hour long walk.  The degree of difficulty involved here isn’t that bad so if need be, you can still maintain a comfortable conversation without the heavy panting.  


  • Helps recovery
  • Burns more fat to carbs ratio over time
  • Easier on your joints


  • Takes up a lot of time
  • Boring
  • Can burn less calories over the same amount of time compared to HIIT

Ok, so here's our overview……

It all boils down to the daily allocation of time.   For those of you that are short on time, HIIT cardio can help you, but it comes with a heavy cost.  HIIT cardio is no different to a regular weight training session. Therefore, if you are training your upper body, lower body, and/or any other part of the body, a HIIT cardio session will help you burn body fat.

 This is again no different from a weight training session so expect your recovery time to be the same as when you're intensely hitting the weights. In doing this, you can come to expect inroads to your recovery because you are now adding another day of an intense workout to your schedule.  When stacking back to back days of intense workouts, you should know that you will more then likely need more time to recover.

For this very reason your CNS will take a beating, and if your CNS is trashed, your recovery is trashed, and then you should expect your overall performance to be trash.  Make sense?

Please note: 45 min of LISS cardio will burn MORE overall calories, as well as fat calories then 10 minutes of HIIT.  The HIIT enthusiasts will state EPOC, which is Excess Post Oxygen Consumption, or, the calories that you continue to burn post workout.  

Let's put this theory to rest!  The amount of calories you burn post HIIT cardio is in fact MINIMAL!  Don’t believe us?  Then the next opportunity you have, Google this information, and you will find actual case studies that will state that the results are not substantial.  What about speeding up your metabolism? Sorry folks, but there are no studies that can confirm this either.  

What we do know, is that your joints will hurt, you're going to feel tired the next day, and your workouts will suffer because you are not programming HIIT in correctly.  Not worth the risk, right? Especially since you are trying to recover from your weight lifting workouts, your cardio should assist in body fat accumulation, weight control and recovery.  Unless you are short on time, and have programmed HIIT as part of your routine, as in a weight training routine, then you should be fine.

Otherwise, stick with LISS if you want to burn body fat while optimizing recovery.