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Which is best - HIIT, LISS or Weights?

When your goal is to get stronger, get fitter and to lose fat or weight, it can be hard to know which form of exercise you should be spending more of your time doing!

For health and fitness benefits, the American College of Sports Medicine, the UK and the NZ Government all recommend that you perform 2 strength training sessions per week PLUS either 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week.

To get your aerobic exercise in, this equates to 30 minutes on 5 days of the week at an intensity of 65-75% HRmax (where HRmax is 220 minus your age), OR 25 minutes on 3 days of the week at an intensity of 75-95% HRmax.

So which one do you choose?

Beginners Start Here!

A great place to start for beginners is the "moderate intensity" option - that's 30 minutes on 5 days a week, since you need to build fitness gradually.

For your resistance training sessions as a beginner, you could start out using bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, step ups, wall push-ups and inverted rows as your resistance training work, or head to the gym and jump on some of the machines as these will help teach you correct technique.

However, once you’ve gained a foundation level of fitness and strength things can get more exciting and you’ve lots of other alternatives.

Alternatives To Hours of Cardio….

Say you’ve been walking to burn 300 calories. For a 68 kg person, you’d need to walk at a brisk pace for 70 minutes. This is called Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio, or LISS for short. As you get fitter though, you can start to work at higher intensities and once you’re accustomed to this, you can cut this exercise time down to just 22 minutes!

It’s the difference between working at a moderate intensity (65-75% HRmax), vigorous intensity (75-95% HRmax) and all-out sprint intervals (>95% HRmax).

For example, to burn 300 calories, for a 68 kg person, you could do any of the following:

  • Walk, brisk pace = 70 min

  • Skip, fast pace = 22 min

  • Run, moderate pace (8 km/hr) = 33 min

  • Run, 13 km/hr = 20 min

  • Row, moderate pace = 38 min

  • Row vigorous pace = 31 min

  • Row very vigorous, (ie all-out sprints!) = 22 min

  • Elliptical trainer = 30 min

  • Stationary bike, moderate pace = 38 min

  • Stationary bike, vigorous pace = 25 min

  • Weight train (strength training) = 89 min

  • Circuit train = 33 min

  • Jumping jacks = 32 min

Are You Ready For Higher Intensities?

Working at higher intensities such as those required to perform HIIT, is a great way to burn calories and get your workouts in if you’re short on time. But it takes time to build up to it.

Working out at 75-95% HRmax is HARD! You need high levels of motivation and be willing to push yourself. You need a good foundation of strength to help protect your joints and ligaments from the loading and impact, and you need to have a good level of fitness so that you can sustain effort at these high heart rates without needing to stop, either because you’re out of puff or because your muscles are burning! So we start with LISS cardio, progress to short bouts of vigorous intensity and then slip in a few higher intensity sessions as you build up fitness.

How Do I Put This Together In a Training Plan?

If your goal is to lose fat/weight, get stronger and increase your fitness, one of the best ways to do this AND meet those exercise guidelines set out by the government is to combine Circuit training with LISS cardio. This is exactly what we do in the StrongFitWomen program, and it’s really having an impact.

“I've really enjoyed the progression of the workouts. I've established a regular workout habit and had some great insights from you regarding mindset shifts and diet tweaks. My shoulders and triceps are already looking quite toned and people have commented! So that's been cool. I feel a LOT stronger and have heaps more energy which is what I was after. I've lost about 3kg. Looking forward to the next programme, thanks Kate!!” Peti Morgan

Using weights in a circuit-type approach helps to:

  • Develop strength

  • Boost your cardio fitness, and

  • Get your resistance training AND your cardio in for the week!

As you can see from above, it’s also a great time-efficient, calorie burner – 300 calories in just 33 min!

PLUS with resistance training, you get a greater ‘Excess Post-exercise Oxygen consumption, or EPOC effect. This means that AFTER you finish your sessions you’ll be burning extra calories for hours or even days afterward as your body works hard to return itself to its resting state. You don’t get this same effect with traditional cardio training.

Low-Intensity Steady State cardio is then a great form of exercise to combine with this to help meet your aerobic requirements for the week, speed up recovery from your other sessions and give you some mental time-out.

In StrongFitWomen, we use a variety of circuit training approaches to keep it varied, interesting and hugely effective – methods such as Peripheral Heart Action Training, Combinations, Complexes, Circuits, Tabata’s and HIIT. There are beginner options as well as more advanced options so you can workout at just the right level for you.

--> For more information on the StrongFitWomen program, CLICK HERE.


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