The Final Truth on HIIT vs. Steady State

What is the best type of exercise: HIIT or steady-state workouts? 


This argument has probably been going back and forth for 10 years now when high-intensity interval training (HIIT) came into mainstream fitness concepts and boutique studios.


First off, just be aware that we all exercise for many different reasons, whether that’s for muscle mass, fat loss, weight management, stress reduction, keeping your heart healthy, or you just want to keep your body moving. 


And so, whatever type of exercise you choose has a lot to do with your end goal.


Defining HIIT vs. Steady-State Exercises


HIIT, in and of itself, is defined as repeated bouts of high-intensity intervals at five-second to eight-minute duration followed by recovery periods. Examples are spin classes and the Tabata.


The definition of HIIT is pretty broad, but it’s essentially an interval where you’re not just doing something at a constant heart rate or at a constant intensity level for the duration of the exercise session. 


A steady-state, on the other hand, is a continuous effort type of training that would last 20 to 30 minutes where you’re going at a constant heart rate. Examples are cycling, swimming, hiking, yoga, pilates, and even weight training.


The Impact on Overall Training

With HIIT, you may get to your goal faster, burn more calories in a shorter period of time, and improve your aerobic capacity, as compared to steady-state where you’ve got this more constant low to moderate intensity work. It takes you longer to get to your goal, but it reduces the wear and tear of your muscles.





  • A lower level of physical and heart stress. 
  • Increases heart efficiency 
  • Provides oxygen to working muscles and cells so they can keep working. 
  • They provide better recovery. They offset burnout and overtraining because they’re not putting too much load on your body. 



  • It’s not time-efficient. You have to do them longer to get more out of it.





  • It burns more calories in a shorter period of time. 
  • Increases your VO2 max and anaerobic capacity
  • Becomes more insulin sensitive – Your body is not going to need as much of it to respond and lower blood sugar levels.



  • More susceptible to injury
  • More prone to burnout if you overtrain 


It’s a lifestyle choice more than anything, whether you choose the continuous steady-state, longer duration type of exercise. There could be a combination and you don’t have to pick one or the other.


At the end of the day, the best workout for you is whatever you can stick with and that you enjoy most. Because whether you do HIIT or steady-state, if you don’t do it consistently, it’s not going to matter. 


If you want to learn more about HIIT vs. steady-state types of workouts, check out


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