HIIT vs Steady-State Cardio (All You Need To Know)

The HIIT and Steady-State Cardio are slightly different in terms of intensity, use, and purpose. HIIT is the best workout program for weight loss and boosting metabolism, while steady-state cardio is less intense and good for health. In this article, I’ve shared some crucial differences between HIIT vs Steady-State Cardio that help you decide the right exercise program according to your health.

The Definition of HIIT and Low-intensity steady cardio (LISS)

You’ll know one of the differences between steady-state cardio and HIIT with their meaning itself.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

CrossFit and Gym

High-intensity interval training is a workout program designed to be performed at a fast speed. You’ll need to work out in two intervals in HIIT, such as high-intense activity and recovery period or less-intensity activity.

For example, do as many burpees as possible in 30 then rest for 30 seconds.

Depending on what you want to accomplish, you can do high-intensity workouts in a circuit for 5 minutes to half an hour.

But it’s not essential to do in a circuit. For example, you can do one exercise in various intervals with 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest.

An interval of 30 seconds is just an example, and it could be 20 seconds or 15 seconds.

The recovery period depends on your fitness level. The shorter the recovery period, the more calories you burn in a quick time.

HIIT is more efficient than “medicine.” The clinical and physiological benefits of HIIT are greater than Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in terms of; muscles development, risk factors, respiration, heart function, exercise capacity, inflammation, quality of life, and VO2peak.1 Steady State Vs. Interval Training: Which One is Best for Your Clients? – American Council of Exercise (ACE)

Also, Read: HIIT CrossFit Workout Circuits

Low-Intensity Steady-State Or LISS Cardio

3 day push pull workout routine

Steady State cardio is an aerobic workout program, and it is slow compared to the HIIT.

It is generally safe and appropriate for all fitness levels. Whether you are a male or female, beginner or intermediate, overweight or underweight, you can do it.

Low-intensity cardio burns a good number of calories and improves aerobic fitness. If you can not do high-intensity exercises, you can do this.

Related: HIIT Pilates Workout: Exercises, Routine & Benefits

Health Benefits of Steady State vs HIIT Cardio

HIIT Vs Steady-State Cardio

I hope you understand the meaning of HIIIT and steady cardio. Now, let’s see the crucial benefits of high and low-intensity cardio training.

Benefits of HIIT

  1. It is one of the great ways to boost endurance and VO2 max ( the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise).
  2. HIIT workouts boost metabolism and metabolic rate (it is the rate at which your body burns calories).
  3. It does not only burns calories during the workout but also after the workout, and it is known calorie afterburn2 The Science Behind the Afterburn Effect – Shape.com. It means your body releases calories even after a couple of hours of the workout.
  4. Various scientific studies have demonstrated that the HIIT program speed up weight loss.
  5. HIIT workouts work for you as “Time Savers” because you can do many exercises in just 30 minutes or less.
  6. It boosts your overall performance gradually.
  7. High-intensity interval training not only improve your heart functions but also increase Breathing Capacity
  8. The HIIT exercises enhance coordination between muscle and joints as well as improve bone density.
  9. Improve the quality of life and help you live longer.

Check out more benefits of HIIT.

Benefits Of Steady-State Cardio Workout

  1. Weight Loss: Low-to-moderate intensity cardio exercises improve your body’s ability to use fat as fuel instead of using glycogen stored in your muscles. And continuous steady-state cardio training can be efficient than HIIT at improving overall fat distribution – demonstrated in a study published by the Journal of Obesity.3 Continuous Exercise but Not High Intensity-Interval Training Improves Fat Distribution in Overweight Adults – Journal of Obesity
  2. LISS cardio is easy, adaptable, and efficient. It put less stress on the body and helps you boost stamina and aerobic health.
  3. Many athletes use to do steady-state exercises to warm up the body for a longer workout session. So it can be a good warm-up option.
  4. The low intense cardio also improves blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart failure, stress, and anxiety.

Disadvantages of HIIT and Steady State Cardio

You’ve seen the pros of low-intensity cardio and HIIT; now let’s see some of the cons.

Cons of HIIT

  • Not suitable for beginners
  • HIIT also comes with the risk of injuries
  • Not very much effective for the people who want to gain muscles.
  • There is some risk of burnout or overtraining
  • Not good for people with heart issues and breathing problem.

Disadvantages Of Steady-State Cardio

  • Time-Consuming and Boring: Steady-state cardio sessions are generally slow, time-consuming, and boring. It’s not possible to get the result you want in the least time.
  • Risk of Overuse Injuries: Steady-state cardio exercises have fewer variations and doing the same kind of workouts can lead to injuries.

HIIT Vs Steady-State Cardio: The Ultimate Comparison

No. High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS)
1It includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercises.It only includes aerobic exercises.
2HIIT workouts are fast and high-intense.LISS is slow and less intense.
3The duration of HIIT is shorter.LISS cardio is slightly longer.
4HIIT workouts burn more calories in a quick time.Steady State cardio takes longer to burn many calories.
5It isn’t suitable for everyone because of its high-intensity nature.It is adaptable, efficient, and appropriate for all fitness levels.
6HIIT exercises improve VO2 max.Less intense cardio isn’t good at the improvement of VO2 max.
7HIIT training comes with a high risk of injuries compared to less-intensity cardio.Steady-state cardio workouts are not risky because they are slow and less intense.

Similarities Between Steady State vs HIIT Cardio

High intensity and steady-state cardio are similar for young and untrained individuals.4 The Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training vs Steady State Training on Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity – Journal of Sports Science and Medicine

Low-intense and high-intense cardio are primarily bodyweights.

HIIT vs Cardio: Which one is best for fat loss?

1 Hour Gym Workout For Weight Loss

Both high-intensity and low-intensity interval training burn calories and improve cardiovascular health. And when it comes to fat loss, HIIT exercise has a slight edge over LISS cardio.

Research suggests that “high-intensity intermittent exercise can result in modest reductions in subcutaneous and abdominal body fat in young normal weight and slightly overweight males and females.”5 High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss – Journal of Obesity

However, they do not have a significant impact when it comes to fat loss.6 Role of Physical Activity for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance – American Diabetes Association

Whether slow or fast, cardio burns calories, lowers blood sugar levels and improves heart and lung health. And if you maintain your calorie deficit diet, it will also speed up your weight loss process.

So, do whatever suits you the most, whether it’s HIIT or steady state cardio but keep doing it consistently.

HIIT vs Cardio Workout Plan Sample

HIIT Vs Steady-State Cardio

Let’s see how a HIIT workout plan is different from low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio with some of the examples below.

Sample of HIIT workout routine

Duration: 20 minutes

Intensity: As fast as you can

Jumping Jacks30 seconds30 seconds
Squat30 seconds30 seconds
Run2 Minutes3 Minutes walk
Push-ups 30 seconds30 seconds
Lunges30 seconds30 seconds
Jumping Rope2 Minutes1 minute
High-knees30 seconds30 seconds
Sprints 30 Seconds4 minutes
Sprints30 Seconds—-

30-Minute Steady-State Cardio Workout Routine

Jog5 Minutes2-min
Elliptical Cross Trainer5 Minutes3-min
Plank1 minute1 minute
Crunches1 minute1 minute
Stationary exercise bike5 Minutes

the Four Reasons Why you should choose HIIT over-steady state cardio

  1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is less time-consuming. You can complete a well-designed full-body workout in just 30 minutes.
  2. HIIT workouts are not only effective but are also exciting, motivating, and challenging. They will always make you feel satisfied at the end of the workout session.
  3. High-intensity exercises enhance your aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
  4. HIIT training can help you burn more calories in the least time. Research has shown that even after the 24 hours of HIIT session, your body uses fat as fuel instead of using glycogen stored in your muscles which promotes weight loss.

Top 5 Reasons When and Why You Should Choose Steady State Cardio

  1. Steady-state cardio workouts are easy to do and put less stress on the body. So whenever you feel hazy and stressed, you can do less intense cardio to relax your body and mood.
  2. If your job is quite hectic and you feel more physically stressed, then steady-state cardio would be a good workout regime. Because it put less strain on your body as well as allows your muscles to get quickly recover.
  3. When you got recovered from your illness or any health problem, steady-state cardio training may enhance your condition.
  4. When you don’t have any specific fitness goal, you just want to maintain your fitness level. Then steady-state training may work well for you. It also provides you with various benefits. For example, improvement in heart health, blood pressure, cholesterol level, and metabolism.
  5. When you want to enjoy the morning fresh air, chirping of the bird and fresh oxygen then you can do steady-state cardio exercises jogging, bicycle ride, and less intense run.

HIIT vs Low intense Cardio: Which One Is Better For Your Health?

Some people may gain benefits by doing HIIT, while some people enjoy steady-state cardio.

You shouldn’t do that workout program which has various advantages. Instead, you should choose the program that suits you the most; whether it’s HIIT or steady-state cardio.

Can you mix HIIT with steady state cardio?

Yes, you can combine HIT and steady-state cardio to make a personalized workout program for yourself, depending on what you want to accomplish.

More articles you may like:

Top 10 Gym HIIT Workouts With Workout Plan
The Best Dumbbell HIIT Workout Plan (With PDF)
The Best Weekly HIIT Workout Plan For Newbie & Pro
A Complete Guide To The HIIT Lower Body Workout
Why HIIT Rowing Machine Workout Is The Best?


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Murshid Akram
I'm an online personal trainer, fitness blogger, and fitness enthusiast. I love researching and writing about exercise and nutrition. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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