Finding The Right “Fit”: HIIT vs. Long Cardio


One of the cross country team members running on the track

Natalia Rodriguez, Staff Writer

With spring and summer quickly approaching, people are once again becoming more and more motivated to get in shape. Long cardio exercises, such as long runs or swims, are usually regarded as the preferred methods of getting into shape because of their long durations. Recently, high intensity interval training (HIIT) has gained popularity for being a time efficient and effective alternative to long cardio workouts. This sudden popularity has caused many people to question whether it is worth replacing longer cardio exercises for HIIT in their exercise regimens. However, both types of training have almost the same benefits when it comes to personal health and fitness; determining which style to choose lies within the differences between what each workout consists of, and the way they are done.

High intensity interval exercises are constantly praised for being relatively short, while still managing to provide the benefits of longer, more strenuous workouts. These interval exercises are usually done with a 2 to 1 ratio of exercise to rest in repeating sets. A HIIT workout can last from as little as 5 minutes to a longer 30 minutes, depending on how much force is exerted during the workout. This flexibility in the duration of workouts is one of the main reasons HIIT has become so popular over time; as people’s lives have become increasingly busy, it is often difficult to find the time to squeeze a workout in. With HIIT, a full effective workout can be quickly done no matter how busy one’s schedule is. However, there is one downside to HIIT. The workouts may be short, but in order for them to be effective, they must be done using extreme effort. The whole workout may only total to 10 minutes, but if done correctly, it will feel like the longest, most tiring 1o minutes ever. Additionally, since HIIT is so physically taxing, if it is the first time that one exercises in a while, it is recommended to not start off with HIIT as to avoid injuries.

I tend to prefer the high intensity interval exercises because they take less time, but leave me feeling like I worked out for an hour.”

— senior Gabriela Vega

Long cardio exercises are quite different from HIIT. Unlike HIIT, there are no breaks or pauses in these workouts; the workout is based around keeping a consistent and steady pace. This continuous cardio helps build endurance, while also strengthening the body and increasing aerobic capacity. The length of the workouts are definitely longer than HIIT, but that isn’t necessarily bad. Since long endurance cardio requires one to stay at a steady pace, the pace can be light and slow while still working out the body (as long as it is done for a long enough time). Thinking of continuous cardio as a light jog or bike ride also serves as a motivational factor as the exercise doesn’t seem too exhausting and doesn’t deter you from beginning to exercise. Long cardio exercises may take a little while longer, but they help maintain and build endurance and don’t put too much of a tax on your body.

“Sometimes I prefer longer workouts because I can do more without feeling too exhausted,” freshman Emily Kay said.

When it comes to deciding whether using the HIIT method or continuous cardio method for achieving your fitness goals, it is important to consider what would work best for you at the moment. Starting off with continuous cardio, and then gradually incorporating HIIT into your exercise regimen is a great starting point, especially for those who consider themselves be a little “rusty” when it comes to exercise. Both HIIT and long cardio have the almost same effectiveness and sticking to a workout plan that has both of these training styles is a sure way to be ready for spring and summer.