Maybe we don't say it enough, so it bears repeating: do cardio! The primary objective of cardiovascular exercise is to strengthen your heart and lungs (i.e. your cardiovascular system). Unlike standard strength training, where your heart rate is allowed to drop for more prolonged periods and doesn’t work as hard during movement, cardio workouts demand that you keep your heart rate elevated for the duration of the workout.
Cardio HIIT: The Rundown
The difference between cardio-centric HIIT and resistance HIIT is subtle. While cardio HIIT can incorporate resistance, you are most often employing your own bodyweight and explosive, full-body plyometric movements to really get your heart beating. Think mat jumps, burpees, jump-squats and mountain climbers.
As you get stronger and your own bodyweight doesn't provide as much of a challenge, you can use gear like the BodyRock Weighted Vest, which can be worn rather than held. You’re not at risk of injuring yourself jumping around with free weights: your hands and arms remain free to use in the demanding full-body moves.
Another difference between cardio HIIT and resistance HIIT is the muscle focus. In cardio HIIT, the muscle you are focused on strengthening is your heart. Yes, you will be working muscles in your entire body as you use them to power you through the movements, but your heart is the main target. You want to focus on moving fast and focused to amp up your heart rate.
In strength training on the other hand (particularly in targeted strength training where you focus on one or two muscle groups at a time, like chest and back), your cardiovascular system is not going to get the same workout because you're honed in on training limited muscle. Your pecs and lats and rhomboids may be on fire, but your breathing will be more controlled, and your heart rate, lower.
Want to see more workouts like these? Check out the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge in Sweatflix!
Steady-State Cardio (SSC) vs. HIIT Cardio
Which is better?
It depends on what you want. First, it’s important to keep in mind that SSC and HIIT cardio don’t train your heart in the same way. In SSC, you’re working at a consistent effort for a prolonged period — think at about 50 - 60 % of your max effort for 45 minutes or more.
With HIIT cardio, you’re working closer to 80-90% of your max effort, so you’re working harder for a shorter period of time. Most people who workout with us want this powerful, effective and timely workout.
However, if you’re training for an event or a sport — or just genuinely love extended cardio sessions -- then steady-state cardio can be beneficial as well.
The verdict: Your heart and lungs will see benefits from both, but cardio HIIT will give you many of the benefits of SSC in less time. For the most comprehensive training, however, do both! Mix it up, throwing in a longer steady-state cardio session in once or twice a week. In addition to gaining the cardiovascular power from HIIT, you’ll get the endurance from SSC. And no matter which type you go for, adding in a BodyRock Weighted Vest will help increase your burn!