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HIIT vs. Mod Cardio For Fat Loss?

I’m just beginning to get back into working out after several years of not doing much. Primary goal right now is to lose fat.

I’m 28 years old, 5’8", started off at 200-205 about two weeks ago, down to about 195 right now, prob need to be around 170-175 given current amount of muscle.

I’m on a fairly good high-protein, reduced calorie diet. Not ultra-low carb or ultra-low calorie, just healthy diet with moderate carbs and calories. Using resistance training and cardio several days a week, usually in morning or during lunch hour. Taking a few supplements - most notably HOT-ROX Extreme.

Trying to figure out what type of cardio works best for fat loss - short workouts of high intensity interval training (HIIT) or longer workouts of moderate cardio like speed walking/light jogging.

I understand that HIIT burns fewer calories during exercise, but stimulates an increase in metabolism that lasts for several hours. Is this worth the trade-off? What’s best for first thing in the morning? Should I continue doing some of both, or focus more on one type of cardio?

So far I’ve been doing a mix of both. On the weekend, when I have more time, I’ve been going on 45-60 minute speedwalks with occasional jogging thrown in right after waking. On weekdays, I do HIIT several mornings a week just after waking, and occasionally after lifting during my lunch hour - usually 15-20 min. sessions.

I’m generally not eating anything before the morning cardio, aside from some Glutamine (and will be taking some BCAAs once they arrive), and then have a protein shake immediately afterwards.

[quote]Frimp13 wrote:
I’m just beginning to get back into working out after several years of not doing much. Primary goal right now is to lose fat.

I’m 28 years old, 5’8", started off at 200-205 about two weeks ago, down to about 195 right now, prob need to be around 170-175 given current amount of muscle.

I’m on a fairly good high-protein, reduced calorie diet. Not ultra-low carb or ultra-low calorie, just healthy diet with moderate carbs and calories. Using resistance training and cardio several days a week, usually in morning or during lunch hour. Taking a few supplements - most notably HOT-ROX Extreme.

Trying to figure out what type of cardio works best for fat loss - short workouts of high intensity interval training (HIIT) or longer workouts of moderate cardio like speed walking/light jogging.

I understand that HIIT burns fewer calories during exercise, but stimulates an increase in metabolism that lasts for several hours. Is this worth the trade-off?[/quote]For any given amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes), HIIT (incl. the raised metabolic rate for several hours) burns much more calories than steady cardio. The shifting between aerobic and anaerobic activity alone puts alot of stress on the body.

A good breakfast.

You should do whatever you like more, because having fun working out is very important, since its connected to continuity, which is the single most important aspect :slight_smile:

If you have a constant amount of time to work out and are looking only at caloric expenditure, HIIT wins.

[quote]So far I’ve been doing a mix of both. On the weekend, when I have more time, I’ve been going on 45-50 minute speedwalks with occasional jogging thrown in right after waking. On weekdays, I do HIIT several mornings a week just after waking, and occasionally after lifting during my lunch hour - usually 15-20 min. sessions.

I’m generally not eating anything before the morning cardio, aside from some Glutamine (and will be taking some BCAAs once they arrive), and then have a protein shake immediately afterwards.[/quote]

If you can’t have a proper beakfast upon waking before your morning workout, try at least to get a protein shake before you start any kind of activity.

The body cannot store protein, and after you wake up the blood does contain very few amino acids, since they have been used up during the night recovery.

So if you burn alot of calories in this protein depleted state, your lost weight will be part muscle mass. You should try to avoid that effect, since muscle uses up calories just for being there and aids greatly when you try to lower your bodyfat %.

[quote]Petrichor wrote:
If you can’t have a proper beakfast upon waking before your morning workout, try at least to get a protein shake before you start any kind of activity.

The body cannot store protein, and after you wake up the blood does contain very few amino acids, since they have been used up during the night recovery.

So if you burn alot of calories in this protein depleted state, your lost weight will be part muscle mass. You should try to avoid that effect, since muscle uses up calories just for being there and aids greatly when you try to lower your bodyfat %.

[/quote]

Thanks for your response!

I understand that I am in a catabolic and/or protein depleted state upon waking. And I understand the importance of retaining muscle mass. That’s why I eat low-fat cottage cheese before bedtime and take Glutamine (and will be taking the BCAAs) first thing in the morning.

The reason I’m not eating anything else before morning cardio is that I’m trying to trigger more conversion of body fat for use as energy, since blood glucose levels are fairly low at that point.

Since consumed protein can be converted into glucose, and any carbs consumed with a protein shake are also going to become glucose, I’m concerned that they will prevent bodyfat from being burned during cardio.

I’ve heard conflicting things about this strategy, and am not sure if there is a definitive answer. Has there been research on this?

I do understand that HIIT burns more calories per minute, but I also thought 20 min. of HIIT burns less calories than 45-60 min. of moderate cardio, at least during the exercise itself. Is either one superior for fat-burning? Or do both have a role?

[quote]Frimp13 wrote:
Petrichor wrote:
If you can’t have a proper beakfast upon waking before your morning workout, try at least to get a protein shake before you start any kind of activity.

The body cannot store protein, and after you wake up the blood does contain very few amino acids, since they have been used up during the night recovery.

So if you burn alot of calories in this protein depleted state, your lost weight will be part muscle mass. You should try to avoid that effect, since muscle uses up calories just for being there and aids greatly when you try to lower your bodyfat %.

Thanks for your response!

I understand that I am in a catabolic and/or protein depleted state upon waking. And I understand the importance of retaining muscle mass. That’s why I eat low-fat cottage cheese before bedtime and take Glutamine (and will be taking the BCAAs) first thing in the morning.

The reason I’m not eating anything else before morning cardio is that I’m trying to trigger more conversion of body fat for use as energy, since blood glucose levels are fairly low at that point.

Since consumed protein can be converted into glucose, and any carbs consumed with a protein shake are also going to become glucose, I’m concerned that they will prevent bodyfat from being burned during cardio.

I’ve heard conflicting things about this strategy, and am not sure if there is a definitive answer. Has there been research on this?

I do understand that HIIT burns more calories per minute, but I also thought 20 min. of HIIT burns less calories than 45-60 min. of moderate cardio, at least during the exercise itself. Is either one superior for fat-burning? Or do both have a role?[/quote]

your overthinking a lot of things and making it very complicated, unless you are a professional bodybuilder who has only a certain number of weeks to get to single digit bodyfat then i think you should not be getting too into the details. (example: the whole glucose thing) your sweating over like a 100 calories of a difference. I say you should do both strategies as both have their place.

But if you want a whole approach to it as well as an article that has a training method that incorporates many different ways that as a whole burn fat like crazy well then here you go
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1499282

Thanks for the link!

I’m sweating the details because I want to get maximal return for my efforts. If it matters whether I have a protein shake before or after morning cardio, I want to know that and do it the right way.

As for overthinking things, I used to know a lot about nutrition/supplements/fitness, but I’ve been out of the game for awhile. Trying to find out how current my knowledge is, or if it’s been replaced by new info from more recent scientific research.

The linked article seems to suggest a mix of exercise strategies is best for losing fat because of your body’s adaptive response, so I’ll try to use both HIIT and moderate cardio.

One problem I’m already facing is how to fit in leg workouts for strength training. In the past, I’ve been incredibly sore after leg days and haven’t been able to do cardio for several days afterwards. So far, I’ve avoided doing leg resistance training because of this, since I think cardio - either HIIT or moderate cardio - is key to losing fat.

Any ideas on how to best work in leg workouts without missing several days of cardio?

[quote]Frimp13 wrote:
The linked article seems to suggest a mix of exercise strategies is best for losing fat because of your body’s adaptive response, so I’ll try to use both HIIT and moderate cardio.

One problem I’m already facing is how to fit in leg workouts for strength training. In the past, I’ve been incredibly sore after leg days and haven’t been able to do cardio for several days afterwards. So far, I’ve avoided doing leg resistance training because of this, since I think cardio - either HIIT or moderate cardio - is key to losing fat. [/quote]

No, the key to losing fat is using more calories than you take in. Also, the fewer carbohydrate calories and more healthy fat calories you consume, the more your body will recognize that fat is an energy source. Your body will shift to burning more fat. But don’t take carbs out of your diet. Cycle them; one day on, two days off, etc.

Two things: 1. Suck it up. 2. Try to not kill yourself on leg day.

Stretch after your leg workout. Finally, consume a post-workout beverage, like Surge or a milk/yoghurt/cottage cheese/fruit/protein powder combo. This will greatly diminish DOMS, and allow you to keep walking off the calories.

[quote]Frimp13 wrote:
Petrichor wrote:
If you can’t have a proper beakfast upon waking before your morning workout, try at least to get a protein shake before you start any kind of activity.

The body cannot store protein, and after you wake up the blood does contain very few amino acids, since they have been used up during the night recovery.

So if you burn alot of calories in this protein depleted state, your lost weight will be part muscle mass. You should try to avoid that effect, since muscle uses up calories just for being there and aids greatly when you try to lower your bodyfat %.

Thanks for your response!

I understand that I am in a catabolic and/or protein depleted state upon waking. And I understand the importance of retaining muscle mass. That’s why I eat low-fat cottage cheese before bedtime and take Glutamine (and will be taking the BCAAs) first thing in the morning.

The reason I’m not eating anything else before morning cardio is that I’m trying to trigger more conversion of body fat for use as energy, since blood glucose levels are fairly low at that point.

Since consumed protein can be converted into glucose, and any carbs consumed with a protein shake are also going to become glucose, I’m concerned that they will prevent bodyfat from being burned during cardio.

I’ve heard conflicting things about this strategy, and am not sure if there is a definitive answer. Has there been research on this?

I do understand that HIIT burns more calories per minute, but I also thought 20 min. of HIIT burns less calories than 45-60 min. of moderate cardio, at least during the exercise itself. Is either one superior for fat-burning? Or do both have a role?[/quote]

This guy gave you very good advice. Sweating the details is good. Attention to detail will let you make much more progress and much faster progress than not. Just make sure you sweat the big central concepts first, and worry about the details after you’ve established good eating and training habits. Don’t major in the minors, in other words. Other than that, attention to detail is what makes good coaches and trainers great.

Enjoy your training first and foremost. I hate long cardio with the fire of 1000 suns. I also hate nausea. But given the choice, I like the challenge of HIIT and sprinting more than that monotony of long cardio. So, that’s what I do (when I do it, heh).

Best returns are probably given by a mix of both HIIT and moderate cardio. THE BEST THING IN THE MORNING is food of some kind. Cardiowise, definitely beyond doubt it’s going to be light, long cardio like brisk walking, etc. HIIT in fasted state = BAD.

leg workouts and cardio–

Easy , light, long cardio after leg days when you’re sore. HIIT maybe later the same day as a leg workout if you still feel good (ie-soreness hasn’t kicked in yet). Otherwise keep HIIT as far away from leg days as possible.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
Frimp13 wrote:
Petrichor wrote:
If you can’t have a proper beakfast upon waking before your morning workout, try at least to get a protein shake before you start any kind of activity.

The body cannot store protein, and after you wake up the blood does contain very few amino acids, since they have been used up during the night recovery.

So if you burn alot of calories in this protein depleted state, your lost weight will be part muscle mass. You should try to avoid that effect, since muscle uses up calories just for being there and aids greatly when you try to lower your bodyfat %.

Thanks for your response!

I understand that I am in a catabolic and/or protein depleted state upon waking. And I understand the importance of retaining muscle mass. That’s why I eat low-fat cottage cheese before bedtime and take Glutamine (and will be taking the BCAAs) first thing in the morning.

The reason I’m not eating anything else before morning cardio is that I’m trying to trigger more conversion of body fat for use as energy, since blood glucose levels are fairly low at that point.

Since consumed protein can be converted into glucose, and any carbs consumed with a protein shake are also going to become glucose, I’m concerned that they will prevent bodyfat from being burned during cardio.

I’ve heard conflicting things about this strategy, and am not sure if there is a definitive answer. Has there been research on this?

I do understand that HIIT burns more calories per minute, but I also thought 20 min. of HIIT burns less calories than 45-60 min. of moderate cardio, at least during the exercise itself. Is either one superior for fat-burning? Or do both have a role?

This guy gave you very good advice. Sweating the details is good. Attention to detail will let you make much more progress and much faster progress than not. Just make sure you sweat the big central concepts first, and worry about the details after you’ve established good eating and training habits. Don’t major in the minors, in other words. Other than that, attention to detail is what makes good coaches and trainers great.

Enjoy your training first and foremost. I hate long cardio with the fire of 1000 suns. I also hate nausea. But given the choice, I like the challenge of HIIT and sprinting more than that monotony of long cardio. So, that’s what I do (when I do it, heh).

Best returns are probably given by a mix of both HIIT and moderate cardio. THE BEST THING IN THE MORNING is food of some kind. Cardiowise, definitely beyond doubt it’s going to be light, long cardio like brisk walking, etc. HIIT in fasted state = BAD.[/quote]

you said what i was trying to. nice. don’t major in the minors

Not necessary. CT suggested in his most recent fat loss plan (posted couple weeks ago) to do HIIT after the heavy lifting days. One of those heavy days is legs. I do 5x4-6 of squats (super-ed with a secondary quad dominant exercise 6-8 reps), and 5x4-6 heavy deads (super-ed with a ham dominant secondary exercise for 6-8 reps).

It’s a hell of a leg day, i love it…but I subsequently return to my street and run 5-10 30sec sprints.

If you are getting adequate rest after this CNS intensive day, you’ll be fine.

I’ve lost 5lbs of fat and my strength has increased over the past 2 weeks.

No one knows whether it is better to eat or have your shake before or after your workout, there’s no magic answer to that question. A lot of people believe that timing meals near workouts is beneficial, but there are conflicting opinions on the before/after debate.

IMO HIIT is superior to moderate cardio for weight loss and in the long run will help you lose weight and retain muscle. HIIT may not burn off as many calories during the actual workout, but over the course of the day will continue to burn more calories.

Also, with moderate cardio it’s harder to maintain lean muscle. Don’t take my word for it, however - take the time and search the web and other sources for info on HIIT and convince yourself. There’s a decent amount of research out there on the topic.

With weight loss, proper strength training is very important. A good strength training workout will burn calories and most importantly will help maintain muscle. I really like the approach of the programs in “The New Rules of Lifting” (the programs are by Alwyn Cosgrove, and I think he’s on the right track with his ideas).

HIIT and leg days: I’m in the “suck it up” camp. No matter how intense of a leg day I have, 24 hours later I can still do a cardo workout if it’s on the schedule. Some of the keys are doing a proper cooldown immediately after a leg workout (like 5-10 minutes on a treadmill or bike), post-workout stretching, and post workout supplementation (lots of stuff out there to avoid DOMS, even a cup of coffee helps).

24 hours later when it comes time for HIIT, make sure to warm up a bit before doing the high-intensity part. I find that any residual soreness goes way quickly once I start warming up.

In the end, listen to your body. Try some of these things for a few weeks and see what happens. If you absolutely can’t do it, change up your plan a bit.

Good luck!

Also, Alwyn has a new article on the front page that touches on a lot of topics that may be of interest to you. Check it out!

[quote]PozzSka wrote:
Aragorn wrote: Otherwise keep HIIT as far away from leg days as possible.

Not necessary. CT suggested in his most recent fat loss plan (posted couple weeks ago) to do HIIT after the heavy lifting days. One of those heavy days is legs. I do 5x4-6 of squats (super-ed with a secondary quad dominant exercise 6-8 reps), and 5x4-6 heavy deads (super-ed with a ham dominant secondary exercise for 6-8 reps).

It’s a hell of a leg day, i love it…but I subsequently return to my street and run 5-10 30sec sprints.

If you are getting adequate rest after this CNS intensive day, you’ll be fine.

I’ve lost 5lbs of fat and my strength has increased over the past 2 weeks. [/quote]

quote from Thib’s article

"Speed/alactic work is much like strength work in that it’s all but impossible to efficiently train that capacity in a fatigued state. It’s also pretty metabolically and neurally draining. So for that reason you can’t perform the alactic session…

a) The day before a strength workout (as it will drain your CNS too much to maximise strength)

b) The day after a strength workout (for the same reason)

c) The day after a lactate-inducing workout (because of residual fatigue)"

The reason CT said to do it on the same day as a heavy lifting day was because all the other days were already taken up with something, and following the rules he posted (and I quoted) meant that the only day that fit the criteria was one you were already scheduled to be lifting on.

Sprint training is hard work, and if you want the best benefit from your leg workouts (and are NOT following CT’s “Warroom” article plan), you’ll do better to space it far away from legs. This is true very much for a person who is unused to the sprints/HIIT–it will really make them sore for a while.

I agree with the suck it up camp, but only insofar as not skipping workouts due to soreness. If you can train with real intensity on your Sprint days, I believe it will add a lot to your fat loss efforts.

So, for that reason, the day after you hit legs hard I think you should do only light cardio in the morning, and maybe some easy long duration running later that day to burn some calories and further increase blood flow and nutrients to your legs.

You’ll still burn extra calories due to the cardio, and it’ll be easier for you to recover to hit the legs hard on sprint day. This would agree with Thib’s 3 rules I quoted above.

I think a lot of it is personal preference as well.

[quote]Petrichor wrote:

Should I continue doing some of both, or focus more on one type of cardio?

You should do whatever you like more, because having fun working out is very important, since its connected to continuity, which is the single most important aspect :slight_smile:
[/quote]

You know something? I really love this piece of advice and it amazes me that it is not provided more often. People on these forums love to make things seem so gritty or boot camp like… but good Lord, it’s like the idea of something being enjoyable is an unholy taboo.

For myself, I find that doing some HIIT after lifting and then more steady-state cardio on other days works best. Keeps me interested and works well for recovery, so I think your approach is none too shabby (although I keep my HIIT session pretty brief at around 4 min after lifting).