Endurance Vs. Interval Training For Weight-loss
Which type of cardio exercise will make you lose weight the fastest?
In this post, I’m going to be sharing which type of cardio exercise will help you to lose weight, and get into better shape the fastest.
This post is actually an extract from my book (page 32) – but it’s such a commonly asked question, that I really wanted to share it here on the blog today.
For years, I exercised for a 2-3 hours every single day and didn’t see any of the results that I wanted (I didn’t lose weight and my body wasn’t looking any more toned) – to put it simply, it really sucked. But, that frustration that I felt made me determined to figure out what type of exercise would get me the best results, in the shortest time possible – I’ve since lost more than 40 Lbs!
What’s the difference anyway?
Interval training and endurance training – what is the difference?
Interval training refers to a type of cardio workout that mixes higher-intensity and lower-intensity exercise. It is generally performed for a shorter period of time than most endurance style cardio workouts.
Endurance training refers to a type of cardio workout that increases endurance capacity – it is generally performed at a low- intensity to moderate-intensity level for a lengthy period of time.
Deciding which form of cardio is best for you really depends on the outcome that you are wanting to achieve from it.
Most people think that in order to be healthy (and lose weight), they should be running long distances every day (endurance training) – but does running long distances really make a person healthier, or thinner?
INTERVAL VS. ENDURANCE
Interval vs. endurance for weight-loss – which is better?
If we look at how many calories are burned during interval and endurance training, let’s say for example while sprinting or jogging, we will see that sprinting burns more calories than jogging.
This is because sprinting is higher in intensity compared to jogging, and therefore our bodies need to metabolize more energy during the period of a sprint. However, during a HITT workout – if we perform a 30 second sprint a total of 8 times, we are only sprinting for a total of 4 minutes (the balance of the 16 minute workout is “rest” time).
If your desired outcome is to be a long distance marathon runner then you would need to focus on endurance training (frequently running long distances) to achieve endurance fitness. But if your desired outcome is to lose weight and tone up then you need to perform exercises that are good for weight-loss..
Studies have shown that interval training is much more effective for weight-loss than endurance training, this is because HIIT training boosts the metabolism like no other kind of exercise method.
When performing endurance training, which is very a monotonous kind of exercise, your body can go into a “save energy mode” where it will try to use as little energy as possible to conserve it’s resources. For this reason, long endurance training sessions can actually be counter productive if we are trying to lose weight. You see, when we are running or jogging at the same speed for an extended period of time (endurance style), the body does not know how long it will be running or jogging for and so it naturally wants to save as much energy as it can – so that it can keep going for a long period of time if it needs to.
Is shorter actually better?
Therefore shorter training sessions may be more effective for weight-loss. I generally recommend to women that they perform LISS sessions for no longer than 20-40 minutes. LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State training.
Studies have also shown that extreme endurance training can cause high levels of oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage to heart tissues. It has been recommended by experts that intense endurance training sessions should be capped after 30 minutes (if high intensity) to avoid damage to the heart tissue (this applies to higher intensity endurance training, not LISS which is of a lower intensity).
Long exercise sessions can also cause excess cortisol (a stress hormone) to be released in the body which can lead to weakening of the immune system and may even lead to disease. Intense endurance training, for example running for an hour at a time, can put major stress on the heart. Stressing a muscle can make it stronger, but extreme stress can cause major damage – and this is not good when the heart is involved.
Short LISS sessions (which are of low to moderate intensity) that are capped after 20-40 minutes safely enable us to burn extra calories without putting our bodies at risk – and they are generally capped before our bodies go into “save energy mode”.
WHAT IS LISS?
LISS stands for Low Intensity Steady State training
Low Intensity Steady State training is generally used to define types of exercise such as walking or jogging.
Walking (low intensity) and jogging (moderate intensity) are both training methods that you maintain at a similar pace for the duration of the exercise. LISS is therefore any low to moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise that maintains the same pace throughout.
Recommended LISS methods can include speed-walking, jogging, cycling or swimming at a low to moderate pace for a duration of 15-40 minutes. You can also use exercise machines such as an elliptical or stepper for LISS training.
It is generally safe to perform LISS exercise sessions at a low to moderate pace for up to 30 minutes (and at a low pace for up to 60 minutes or more). Higher intensity LISS exercise sessions should generally be capped after 15-30 minutes.
Short LISS sessions help to burn extra calories and increase general endurance capacity.
WHAT IS HIIT?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training consists of two intervals known as the ‘sprint’ and ‘rest’ periods. HIIT is the best type of workout for weight-loss and shaping up because it fires up the metabolism. High-intensity workouts promote fat-loss, toning and reshaping of the body.
When performing HIIT, we sprint (or run as fast as we can) at a 90 – 100% capacity for 30 seconds and then we rest (or walk) for 90 seconds. Then we repeat this process several times.
It is recommended by fitness experts that we repeat this process 8-12 times before ending our workout. I recommend to women that they perform 8 x 30 second sprints – this workout only takes 16 minutes to complete.
When performing HIIT, we must rest for a minimum of 90 seconds (no matter how fit we are) because our bodies need this amount of time to recover between sprints. HIIT can be done on a treadmill, an elliptical machine or a spinning bike at gym, or you can go outside with a stop watch.
HIIT IS THE WINNER
HIIT may be the winner for fat-loss, but a little bit of LISS is still important
When we perform high intensity interval training (HIIT), our bodies burn a lot of energy in a short space of time (during a sprint) – and before our bodies can go into “save energy mode”, we take a rest (during the rest interval). Repeating this kind of exercise (sprinting and then resting) several times in a row can result in a large amount of calories burned in a short space of time without the body trying to conserve as much energy as possible.
Research has shown that interval training can help to lower body fat, improve muscle tone and boost energy levels – more than long distance endurance training sessions.
High-intensity interval training methods (HIIT) appear to be much safer for the heart than high-intensity endurance training. This is why LISS is generally performed at a “slow sate”. High-intensity endurance training has been identified as one of the least efficient forms of exercise.
It has been proven that short bursts of high-intensity exercise (HIIT), and short low-intensity (LISS) workouts are far more efficient and effective for weight- loss, toning and body sculpting.
16 minute workout
Try my easy 16 minute HIIT workout to get started
Take part in my 16 minute workout challenge – cause baby, sometimes a 16 minute workout is all that you need!
In conclusion, safe HIIT and LISS workouts are both important for health – but a quick HIIT workout is king for fat-loss.
Liezl Jayne xo
Ps. To get the BEST RESULTS, try doing my top 5 exercises (FREE DOWNLOAD) with your HIIT workout.
Please note that you should be in a fit and healthy state before you perform these workouts. It is always a good idea to consult with your doctor, medical practitioner or fitness coach to see if a new exercise program is suitable for you.
Photos by Ross Charnock and Liezl Jayne Strydom for liezljayne.com