In the debate of steady state cardio vs. HIIT, everyone has their own opinion on what’s best.   

Depending on what answer you are seeking, you can find evidence to support both.  Some studies show LISS (low intensity steady state) or steady state cardio as being best and some show HIIT as the clear winner.   But it all depends on who the training is for, and what their goals are.  In the debate on steady state cardio vs. HIIT cardio there are tons of benefits to both, and it depends on your goals, physical state and what you enjoy doing!

What is the difference?

HIIT Benefits

HIIT cardio is doing short, high intensity bursts of running/biking/swimming, followed by a slowed down recovery period- on and off for a set amount of time.

Short, high-intensity sessions are all about your post-recovery state. If you’re working harder you’re going to have a slightly elevated heart and metabolic rate, meaning you’ll be burning more calories during your recovery period as well as when you’re actually training.

If you want to keep your workouts as short as possible and enjoy pushing your limits, then go for HIIT. Stick to a healthy schedule, however, to avoid injury: no more than 3 HIIT workouts weekly.  Make sure if you’re doing quick interval sprints or other types of cardio, maintain good form.  Obviously anything higher impact there’s a greater chance of injury.

Examples of HIIT Cardio

In the gym: you can use a treadmill, elliptical, row machine, stationary bike, stepmill, stairmaster, free weights, etc. You can also run or sprint outside, ride a bike, jump rope, swim, or perform plyometrics.

You can also do HIIT workouts using weights. There are tons variations and ways to take advantage of this training method, a lot of which you don’t even need equipment.


Steady State Cardio Benefits

If you have the time and prefer slower, chill workouts, stick with Steady State Cardio.  This type of cardio is better for those with bad joints, previous injuries, some elderly clients, etc.  It can also be a huge, if not most part of a training plan for long distance runners or other athletes.

This type of cardio allows you to function at a slightly higher heart rate and level of exertion over a longer amount of time. It gets your body used to operating under a certain degree of stress, even if it is a small amount.

Examples of Steady State Cardio

Walking outside or on treadmill (on and off incline), running, dancing (Zumba, hip hop and so on), biking outside or on a stationary bike, as well as machines like the eliptical, rowing machine, etc.

So why not include both?

Well that actually seems to be best.  There are arguments on both sides why one should choose one or the other, but there are clearly advantages and disadvantages to both.  If you combine both types of cardio in your training plan, you’ll get the best of both worlds without over-doing it or under-doing it.  It’s best to switch it up so you don’t become complacent anyway!


Regardless of which type of cardio you prefer or are working on, make sure you’re doing it the proper way! The right workout gear, form, and breathing can be the difference between results and injury.

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