HIIT versus Cardio

I'm looking for fitness advice from those who have been there!

I have a small child and 90 lbs to lose. I can work out at the gym for 45 minutes on Tuesday's/Thursday's, and however long I want on Saturdays. I really want to focus on strength at the gym because I know that is important for long term success (and many other reasons).

Right now, Tuesday's I do cardio on the treadmill, Thursday's I do strength, and Saturdays I take Spin class for 1 hour, then do strength.

I want to make my cardio time more efficient so I have time to do a Strength workout each trip to the gym. It seems that HIIT might provide that for me. But I wonder if the hype is true. In your experience, does a shorter HIIT workout rival a longer cardio workout? Let's say I want to replace my 40 minute treadmill workout with a 10 minute HIIT workout. Can I expect similar results? Would 10 minutes of full effort HIIT replace the 40 minute walk/run I'm currently capable of? How did YOU experience success with HIIT?

Also, if you know of any resources for information or HIIT workouts, please share!

TYIA! I really want to up my game! Help!


  • Michael190lbs
    Michael190lbs Posts: 1,510 Member
    10 min of HIIT vs 40 min treadmill workout at 75% its hype in the sense that most people can't go 90% HR for 10 min straight. I do 3 min rounds on a bag HR is through the roof I can't imagine 10 min rounds.. My 2 cents
  • RaptorMommy
    RaptorMommy Posts: 31 Member
    @NorthCascades - Thank you! It can be so hard to distinguish which claims are legitimate with so much information out there! I desperately want to have it all, in 45 minutes - but I don't want to be naïve with my expectations!! I guess that fitting it all in will just have to wait until the baby is older. Thank you for taking the time to explain how this works for me! I will plug away, and I will get there in the end, regardless!
  • fanceegirl75
    fanceegirl75 Posts: 631 Member
    I like HIIT as a way to switch up my cardio.
  • dkabambe
    dkabambe Posts: 543 Member
    Agree with others above you're not going get much benefit in 10 minutes - especially as you'll still need to warm up or risk injury. I got advice from a PT on maximising a treadmill cardio workout by finishing with some incline interval sprints. I would go as fast as I could at 10% for 30 seconds, then walk at 5% for 1 min, (or until <60% HRR), then 11% for 30s, walking recovery and keep going up by 1% a time for 5 repetitions.

    This would supposedly stimulate the EPOC (aka afterburn) effect on top of the calorie burn from the steady cardio. I would be completely done in by the time I was finished, but would be on such a high for the rest of the day!
  • _Waffle_
    _Waffle_ Posts: 13,051 Member
    HIIT is a great workout but it's surrounded by so much WOOOO and hype that isn't true. I believe that @NorthCascades covered that pretty well.
  • rileyes
    rileyes Posts: 1,402 Member
    You may like Fitness Blender. You can get in some 10-minute interval training sessions that can help with endurance as well as agility. You could do a session in a separate block. Or you may even be able to use it as a warm-up for strength training.

    I would separate your cardio days from your strength training days (or separate them into different blocks). This may help you to have more energy and focus for the activity. Low or moderate intensity cardio may be better for helping to lose fat. And a progressive resistance program can help for building a solid strength base. Search the forum for beginner strength training programs.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,903 Member
    The reality of weight loss and fitness is pretty simple. But there are so many people and companies selling things (products, videos, services, supplements, etc), making it seem a lot more complicated than it really is. Because, the harder it is to sort through all the info and misinfo out there, the more people will pay someone else to do it for them and just tell them what to do.
  • jacksonpt
    jacksonpt Posts: 10,413 Member
    What are you trying to accomplish with the cardio? Simply burning calories?

    If your primary goal is strength training, then just commit to that and give it your all. IMO, having 2 priorities is the same as having no priorities. And I say that as a triathlete.
  • berolcolour
    berolcolour Posts: 140 Member
    My personal opinion intervals all the way. Maybe not HIIT as such, but doing intervals has improved my stamina and speed for running and cycling. So
    I only do one long cardio a week of running and two intervals - it's making me quicker. The running intervals have runs, sprints and walking.

    I downloaded some free interval apps but there's lots of plans there to choose from, I do cycling ones from
    YouTube (GCN fat burning ones). The intervals I do range from a total time of 13 to 40 minutes, if I want to get more done I'll pick shorter ones!

    I also do a cardio and a weights/body weight workout one after another. I find this works for me and I'm losing weight while actually doing less cardio (in total time).
  • SliverBulletsUK
    SliverBulletsUK Posts: 267 Member
    HIIT is 100% the way forward. It puts you in a higher metabolic rate, if you are looking to lose fat then alongside the other aspects (nutrition/sleep) this is a great addition. Steady cardio (for example on a treadmill, would not achieve the sane results, if fat loss is your goal)

    10 minutes is probably not adequate but 20-30 would give you a great burn , either way a steady paced cardio session on the treadmill or bike wouldn't match the effects of a proper HIIT session.

    In terms of some of the comments relating to the amount of time actually training.

    It's HIIT,its not circuit training. You bring your heart rate up to a high level (high intensity interval training) and really push yourself then you lower it again. I'd also suggest you look at the different classes at your gym or online videos. You do not have to break in between sets as some people are suggesting, you can continually exercise but some moves are just at a lower intensity.

    In terms of programmes, beach body have some fantastic videos and if you look on eBay you can probably get them for cheaper, it also has the added benefit of being in DVD format so then you could actually do it at home.

    In terms of hype, yes it has gathered a lot of press recently but that's due to its success and companies realising they can cash in, the truth of the matter is it is an amazing workout which is why, they can cash in.

    Dr tabata (tabata training) who devised studies into the effects of both found that HIIT was better for increasing the metabolic rate and burning fat and that it also had longer lasting fat burning effects. The companiesrealised and suddenly they jumped on the bandwagon.

    However what you will find, as with everything, people have their opinions and don't want to move on from them. There are die hard, traditional cardio, lovers out there who swear by it.

    What you can't escape is the science behind it which clearly backs HIIT.

    Ive possibly come off as one of those 'die hards' in favour of HIIT haha but I'm not, honest

    Good luck either way
  • robertw486
    robertw486 Posts: 2,342 Member
    HIIT is cardio.

    The hype is not true.

    A 10 minute HIIT workout is going to include maybe 5 minutes of intense exercise the way most people do it. Intervals of working hard and intervals of rest. That won't have anything like the benefit of 40 minutes of actual, continuous exercise.

    If you want to burn calories, volume trumps intensity. By a long shot.

    If you want to build endurance and stamina, continuous time is how you do that.

    If you want to get more fit, moderate cardio is how you do that.

    If you want to lose weight, consistency over time with sustainable diet and exercise are how you do that. Moderate cardio is easier for most people to tolerate than very intense cardio. Along with the health benefits and the extra calories you burn this way (do the math), this is the recipe for success.

    If you want to win races, 20 % of your training sessions should be in zones 4 and 5 which is similar to HIIT.

    Solid input IMHO. Add to the fact that the current use of the term HIIT is just all over the map, and really it comes down to training zones and what to use them for.

    I do enjoy intervals, and very tough intervals, and incorporate both into my cardio workouts fairly often. But having done a measured Tabata protocol on my elliptical, I can say that just adding that in to an extended workout on any regular basis is probably going to be really taxing for most.

    Most of the studies I have seen seem to indicate that the real benefits of high intensity stuff requires at least 85-90% of max heart rate effort combined with being at or exceeding VO2max. I personally think that within the limits of safety that the shorter sessions at VO2max levels at higher limits would help more overall. Until you exceed your oxygen uptake limit and ability of the heart to transport it, the need for the body to adapt isn't as great.
  • cecsav1
    cecsav1 Posts: 714 Member
    My recommendation: full body circuits.

    For example: (JUST an example, not a personalized training program!)
    1. Warm up
    2. Squats - 1 set of 10-12 reps
    3. Bench press - 1 set...
    4. Lunges - 1 set...
    5. Military press - 1 set...
    6. Hamstring curls...
    7. Bicep curls...
    8. Crunches...
    9. Tricep extensions...
    10. 10 min cardio

    Repeat for a total of three sets
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,196 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    1 - HIIT is just really trendy right now and the concept has largel been bastardized by the fitness community at large.
    2 - most people claiming to do HIIT really aren't doing HIIT
    3 - HIIT was designed to improve the capacity of already very fit individuals, namely elite athletes who need every little tiny edge they can get.
    4 - Your average Joe/Jane trying to get fit and healthy would benefit more from 30-60 minutes of sustained cardio several days per week and some resistance training
    5 - To approach anything even resembling true HIIT, one would have to have a very solid fitness base to begin with

    I do some higher intensity interval stuff when I'm training for time trials on my bike...it doesn't even come close to being true HIIT and I'm a pretty fit guy. My coach is a retired professional athlete...he does some form of HIIT about once per week and it pretty much leaves him on his *kitten* the rest of the day and in bed by 7:30 at night.

    Weight loss is a pretty simple formula, and really doesn't have anything to do with exercise. You can do all of the exercise you want, but if your diet isn't in order it doesn't really matter from a weight management perspective. Diet for weight management; exercise for fitness. Let you fitness goals (independent of weight management objectives) guide you on what you should be doing on the exercise front...try to pull the two apart...they do work on congruence, but they really are separate issues.
    +1. Couldn't have stated it any better.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition


  • leahkathleen13
    leahkathleen13 Posts: 272 Member
    Hiit is fun and increases your mobility a lot if you don't have a lot of time. The moves are hard but have helped me with jumping up, cleaning the house, hauling kids, being more agile, etc. I recommend it first thing in the am on days when getting a workout is really hard to fit in.
  • foen_i
    foen_i Posts: 27 Member
    I do believe 90% of the ppl saying they do HIIT actually do simple circuit. I have done HIIT 1,5 times and I suffered. It is incredibly taxing and does not feel good. If you just aim for results yes it is probably the way but the amount of sheer willpower to push through it might discourage a lot of people from it altogether.
  • kcjchang
    kcjchang Posts: 708 Member
    If you want to win races, 20 % of your training sessions should be in zones 4 and 5 which is similar to HIIT.

    Coggan's power zones? HIIT start above zone 4 (~105% FTP = VO2Max) and should be done in upper range of zone 5 and above (~120% of VO2Max and preferably above the maximal aerobic power). There's a lot of confusion regarding polarization. According to Allen, Coggan, and company, zone 4 and below is "low intensity".