Is HIIT better than steady state for losing weight?

When it comes to exercise and weight loss, it seems logical to assume that High Intensity Interval Workouts will put you on the path to success — after all, you’re burning the most amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. But new research has emerged showing that longer periods of moderate intensity workouts can be just as effective, or even moreso.

The meta-analysis examined the results of over 30 research papers on the effects of Moderate Intensity Continuous Training (MICT), HIIT and Sprint Interval Training (SIT) on changes in body fat percentage and total body mass.

They found there was no significant differences in body fat and total body mass loss among the three groups after the same period of time.

These classes of exercise were defined by both how long the period of exercise was, and at what intensity it was performed. MICT is also known as steady-state cardio, performed for 20-60 minutes at 40-59% VO2MAX. HIIT is comprised of submaximal bursts of activity interspersed with recovery periods, performed for 1-4 minutes at 80-100% VO2MAXx. SIT is the most intensive of the three, known as all out training and consisting of 2-30 seconds of exercise at greater than 100% VO2MAX.

Interestingly, MICT is thought to be even more effective for reducing total body fat mass, as it results in greater exercise-induced energy expenditure. Think about it: how utterly exhausted do you feel after an intense workout, to the point where you can do no more? With a MICT workout you can go further for longer as you’re not exhausted so quickly, and burn more calories while you do so.

The lesson here is to do whatever exercise you want to do and whichever one fits in with your schedule. If you have time for a long run, fantastic, but if you can only fit in a 30 minute HIIT class that’s just as good.