Cardio vs HIIT: Which is better?


This is the third and final video in a short series comparing Cardio and HIIT.  In this video Jim Kirwan, the creator of Get America Moving, uses a simple but powerful measure to compare them and then reaches his final conclusion in the battle of Cardio vs HIIT.

Cardio vs HIIT: Which is better?

Welcome to the 3rd and final video in my series comparing Cardio and HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training]

In the 1st video called Is Cardio a Big Lie. I reviewed 3 variables concluding that Cardio is more important when you are starting! HIIT is important as you progress! Both are important if you want to lose weight.

In the 2nd video The Real Truth About HIIT, I reviewed another three variables. HIIT wins out with Metabolism, though you can also benefit if you vary the intensity of your Cardio. Cardio wins out on How Much because you can only do so much HIIT whereas Cardio doesn’t have this limitation. Cardio also wins out on Fun; HIIT is tough and not much fun whereas you can and should enjoy aerobic exercise.

My Overall Conclusion is this is not a case of one is good and the other is bad. In reality, HIIT is just Cardio at a higher intensity; So both are important and you need to do both.

In this 3rd and final video I provide a simple but powerful way to compare Cardio vs HIIT. There is a measure used to compare energy used in different forms of exercise taking both Time and Intensity into account, called the MET. It is not perfect; there is no perfect measure, but it is very useful.

Every activity has a MET score which can be compared to energy used at rest which is our benchmark. Rest is 1 MET or 60 MET Minutes per hour. Walking at 3mph is 3METS or 180 MM/hr and running at 4mph is 6 METS or 360 MM/hr.

So let’s compare 30 mins of Cardio at 3mph or 20 Min Mile Pace to a 30 Min HIIT session with four 2 Min Intervals at 4mph with 2 mins of recovery between each interval.

By the way, this increase in Intensity to 15 Min Miles is substantial, if you are used to walking at 20. The Cardio Calculation is easy:

Walking at 3MPH = 30 Mins x 3 METS = 90 MET Mins.

The HIIT Session is a bit more complicated:

Warm Up – 8 Mins x 3 METS = 24 MM.
Intervals – 8 Mins x 6 METS = 48 MM.
Recovery – 6 Mins x 3 METS = 18 MM.
Cool Down – 8 Mins x 3 METS = 24 MM.

114 MET Mins.  [Difference = 24 MET Mins]

The HIIT session requires greater energy than the Cardio but the difference of 24 MET Mins between them is not that significant. Only 8 out of 30 minutes was actually High Intensity Exercise, the rest was Cardio reinforcing my conclusion that both Cardio and HIIT should be part of every well balanced exercise program.

Until the next time remember my motto:

You don’t have to be fit to start, but you do have to start to be fit and healthy.

By Jim Kirwan

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