Physique coach Paul Revelia regularly creates content on how he uses steady-state cardio to aid fat loss. In a new video with strength and conditioning coach Stephen Beaugrand, Revelia takes a look at the pros and cons of low intensity (LISS), moderate intensity (MISS), and high intensity (HIIT) cardio.
In terms of the time you’re taking to work out, HIIT has a clear advantage, as you’ll be burning a higher number of calories in a shorter window than you would be during a lower-intensity session. However, this also requires a higher skill level, explains Beaugrand. “If you’re doing sprints, you need to be at least good enough to be able to do that in all-out intensity,” he says, “whereas in lower or moderate intensity, we don’t need a lot of skill for that, we can do something like walking, riding our bike, going out for a hike.”
Recovery is another factor that Revelia and Beaugrand consider. “If you’re only doing a 20 minute workout every day, and the rest of your day is sedentary at your desk, you’re probably going to be fine with HIIT cardio as you have plenty of time for recovery and you’re not going to negatively impact the rest of your day,” says Revelia. “However, if your primary goal is bodybuilding or a combat sport, does HIIT cardio make sense? It’s all about looking at your overall schedule and overall goals.”
Something else which they acknowledge is the so-called interference effect, in other words, the idea that the more cardio you do, the more it negatively impacts your ability as a strength athlete. “If we’re doing a significant amount of steady-state cardio, we’re creating this adaptation response where our body wants to be good at cardio,” says Beaugrand. “Being good at cardio and being a good bodybuilder don’t necessarily go hand in hand.”
Ultimately, though, the best cardio is the one you don’t hate. “Find what you absolutely love,” says Revelia. “It’s got to come from a place of enjoyment.”