In recent years fitness trends have swung from short snappy High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions, to clocking up miles in preparation for a marathon.
But which is best — short or long workouts?
You want fat loss
Alternating between bursts of intense exercise with short rest periods gives you the same (if not more) health benefits of slow and steady cardio, but in a shorter amount of time.
Commonly known as HIIT, the intense work periods are performed at roughly 80 percent to 95 percent of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate and last anywhere from 5 seconds to several minutes in duration.
HIIT has become popular for its ability to bust a higher number of calories during the workout, but also for several hours after. This phenomenon known as “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC has you burning up to 15 percent more energy overall, making it ideal for fat loss.
But before you throw yourself into HIIT, make sure you have a good base level of fitness to avoid injury, and alternate hard workouts with strength and rest days to give your body ample time to rest and recover.
The winner: Short and intense workouts
You want strength gains
When training for strength (i.e. ability to increase force) quality over quantity matters. With a focus on compound moves, such as multi-joint exercises (think squats or lunges), you work more muscle groups in half the time.
Heavier weights, with low repetitions are key with longer rest periods in between exercises to maximise recovery. To avoid injury, you’ve got to make sure you have proper form and are lifting the appropriate weight. Seek professional advice from a personal trainer or exercise physiologist.
The Winner: short and intense workouts