This is one of the most popular fitness questions of all time. There are so many views about it that finding a correct answer is next to impossible. The reason for this is that there is no correct answer.
It all depends… on you and your goals. Your level of fitness and determination will play a huge part in deciding which method you choose and if it will work for you. Before reading any further, do note that ultimately, the best thing to do would be to do both steady state cardio and high intensity cardio.
Steady state also known as slow cardio includes activities like walking, jogging, swimming at a leisurely pace, etc. It is relatively moderate exercise. You will not be panting and gasping for air. Anybody can do it. You will burn fat while doing steady state cardio.
High intensity cardio could be full body resistance training with minimal rest time, interval workouts, wind sprints, spinning, etc. These are exercises that will leave you breathless and panting. Sweat is going to pouring down your back. These are not easy workouts. Most often you don’t burn much fat during the workout. However, after the workout is over, you will be in fat burning mode for hours.
When it comes to fat burning, the high intensity workouts are superior to the steady state cardio sessions. If you look at long distance runners, they often seem lanky and weak. Some even have a little paunch.
Look at the sprinters and you see muscle bound powerhouses. This is the result of high intensity training. You can choose to just burn fat during the 45 minutes or 60 minutes of training… or you can choose to burn fat for 10 hours or longer after an intense session.
So, the choice is yours. If you’re obese or have not been exercising regularly, you should not embark on a high intensity program immediately. You will suffer and it’ll be torture. A wise thing to do would be to do slow, steady cardio for about 2 to 3 weeks and as your stamina improves, you can throw in a higher intensity session every now and again.
Slowly build up until you are fit enough to go all out at a high intensity level. So, steady state cardio has it’s time and place. High intensity training should not be done on a daily basis. It will take its toll on your nervous system. You should intersperse a slow cardio day between your high intensity days.
On some mornings, you could just go for a slow 30 minute jog on an empty stomach. It works wonders too without stressing your body out. You’re still burning calories, just not as many. It gives your body a break without affecting your fat loss.
Consult a doctor before you embark on any exercise program. Know your limitations and don’t rush the process. If all you can do is a slow, steady session, then by all means do that till your fitness level improves.
The fat loss journey is a very personal one and you will need to make many personal choices along the way. Don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself to any one form or method of exercise. Take your time, experiment and keep going. You will lose the fat if you don’t give up.