When you hit the gym, how do you work out? Do you focus on hitting each exercise with precision and control, or do you aim to keep your heart rate high and move through the workout quickly? Are you focused on low intensity, steady state, long-duration cardio, or do you shoot for short-duration, high intensity cardio?
The Benefits of High Intensity Exercise
“High intensity” workouts involve anything that gets your heart rate over 75%. The exercises are much harder on your body, but they lead to better overall cardiovascular conditioning. Some of the most popular types of high intensity exercise include:
- Weight Training
- Aerobics like Zumba, or kickboxing
- High intensity interval training
The beauty of these workouts is that you can get in a full workout with far less time. Your body expends a lot more energy on these workouts than it does on a low-intensity workout, so you burn through your calories and fat more quickly. Not only that, but the metabolic effects last for much longer. With low intensity exercise, your metabolism slows down a few minutes after completing the workout. However, your metabolism keeps running at high speeds for up to 2 or 3 hours after finishing a high intensity workout.
If you are in decent shape, it’s a good idea to perform high intensity exercise. It will improve your cardiovascular conditioning, increase the amount of fat you burn, and build muscular strength and stamina. You will see results much more quickly thanks to the high intensity workout, and you will find yourself making faster progress in every area of your fitness.
The Benefits of Low Intensity Exercise
What makes low intensity exercise a better option for you? Well, for one, it’s easier on your joints, bones, and muscles. High intensity exercise involves a lot of fast-paced, high impact movement. Low intensity exercise is far less damaging to your musculoskeletal structure, making it better for those trying to get into shape.
With a low intensity workout, you only get your heart rate up to about 50 to 65% of your Max HR. You can usually talk without gasping for air, and you can last for anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes without running out of steam. While a high intensity workout is guaranteed to sap your energy more quickly, low intensity workouts help you to build endurance and last longer.
Some of the more popular forms of low intensity exercise include:
- Walking outside or on the treadmill
- Aerobics classes-low impact
- Tai Chi
As you can see, these workouts are easier on your body, and they’re the more “beginner” types of workouts. They’re great for the elderly, those struggling with obesity, people new to exercise, and even pregnant women. They involve far less strain on your body, so they’re easier to carry out.
That being said, if you are after results, you may want to focus more on the high intensity workouts. They will boost your metabolism and help you to burn more calories, but they’ll also build muscular strength. Low intensity workouts focus more on muscular endurance, helping you to train for longer but at a much lower intensity. If you play sports, you’ll find that high intensity workouts are much better for your overall athletic performance.
Or why not mix things up? Intersperse high intensity training with low intensity training, doing a few days of each workout every week. You’ll find your overall fitness is drastically improved, and you can get in much better shape as a result of these two workouts.