When it comes to car­dio, are fast and fu­ri­ous in­ter­vals the way to go, or does low-in­ten­sity, steady-state win the race? WH finds out what’s best for fat loss

Women's Health Australia - - CONTENTS -

Fast and fu­ri­ous or slow and steady? WH ap­plies the blow­torch to dis­cover the best way to help burn stub­born fat


You need to work at 80 per cent of your max heart rate for it to count as “high-in­ten­sity”. Go all out, rest then re­peat.

The sci­ence

When you’re go­ing hard and work­ing anaer­o­bi­cally, it’s the fast-twitch mus­cles that are do­ing their thing. These are the ones you need to en­gage to build power and strength.

The good

Your me­tab­o­lism keeps burn­ing kilo­joules long af­ter you hit the show­ers. A short daily ses­sion can cut 5 per cent body fat in just 45 days, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers from South­ern Illi­nois Univer­sity in the US.

The bad

HIIT pushes your body to the max. A Psy­chol­ogy of Sport and

Ex­er­cise study re­vealed that par­tic­i­pants with lower fit­ness lev­els found HIIT train­ing less en­joy­able. And you risk in­jur­ing your­self if it’s be­yond your abil­ity.

The nu­tri­tion

Con­sum­ing a snack with a 3:1 ra­tio of car­bo­hy­drates to pro­tein within 30 min­utes of com­plet­ing your HIIT work­out is best for re­plac­ing en­ergy stores and aid­ing re­cov­ery.

The ex­pert ver­dict

“HIIT stim­u­lates pro­duc­tion of growth hor­mones and testos­terone for mus­cle growth, and en­dor­phins and adren­a­line to help you keep up the pace. It also in­creases your abil­ity to use fat,” says strength, con­di­tion­ing and re­hab coach Doug Tan­nahill.


You need to aim for 65 per cent of your max heart rate dur­ing a LISS ses­sion to hit the fat-burn­ing zone.

The sci­ence

LISS can be any form of low­in­ten­sity car­dio where you main­tain a con­stant pace. Slowtwitch fi­bres used dur­ing LISS pro­vide their own en­ergy, so you can work out for longer.

The good

Any form of reg­u­lar car­dio strength­ens your heart and lungs and builds en­durance. Plus, a 2013 study com­par­ing high- and low-in­ten­sity regimes found that a gen­tler ap­proach was more likely to lead to long-term suc­cess.

The bad

If you’re not into it, LISS can feel like a chore. A study from the Univer­sity of Florida found that those who var­ied their work­outs en­joyed their ses­sion 45 per cent more than those who re­peated the same work­out. Mix it up.

The nu­tri­tion

Fasted or fed? Ac­cord­ing to a pa­per in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion, fasted car­dio may burn up to 20 per cent more fat than eat­ing PRE-LISS. So, pile your plate post-work­out.

The ex­pert ver­dict

“Less abra­sive on the body, LISS is a great way to keep ac­tive and burn fat while you’re re­cov­er­ing. But, when used alone, the body adapts quickly to the move­ment and its rhyth­mic car­dio pat­tern, so the ben­e­fit is lim­ited,” says mas­ter trainer Abi Dew­berry.

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