HIIT training is all the rage these days (and for good reasons), but can you still achieve fabulous results with lower intensity workouts? Why has lower intensity gotten such a bad rap? Why is the modern fitness industry (worldwide) becoming so hardcore all of a sudden? Let’s dig into this subject because there’s likely to be some eye openers.

Quick Answer: Yes, Low Intensity Rocks

Think about the power of water. Over time, even one wave a day washing up onto a rock higher up on the shore will wear it down and polish it. But, that’s a rather crude example. As human beings we all come with our own unique circumstances and predicaments.

For example, if we’re talking about a severely overweight person low intensity exercise is going to burn tons of calories. Plus it’s safer! For someone that’s much more conditioned, it’s going to take progressive overload and HIIT to shock the musculature so it continues to adapt.

Obesity Level is a Determining Factor

As the body gets into better shape, and it gets more efficient at transforming energy into force, it reacts differently to low vs. high intensities. Here’s a snippet from a great article on the subject from www.Running.Competitor.com:

“Past research has shown that the body’s fat-burning mechanisms do not function as well in obese individuals as in normal-weight individuals, while the fat-burning mechanisms in aerobically fit, normal-weight individuals function exceptionally well.”

And there you have it. A runner or conditioned endurance athlete is going to burn fat much more efficiently at higher and lower intensity levels.

Right, so the question of high vs. low intensity really has more to do with fat loss than performance. It’s going to be hard to get better on the sports field or in the gym by training with easy exercises and workouts. On the other hand, low intensity training is great for people who:

  • Are getting back into working out after a break. Their body is less conditioned, but maybe not overweight. The low intensity will get the central nervous system caught up along with the joints and soft tissues.
  • Are more interested in losing excess body fat than building muscle or strength endurance.

Aim for the Best of Both Worlds!

Here’s the truth: the best thing you can do to increase your health is to work on benefitting from both high and low intensity training. There’s no reason to go ultra-hardcore all the time. You can ease up. And, there’s also no really good reason to stick with nothing but low intensity either.

But, if you really want to put it in a nut shell:

  • High Intensity: Fat loss for in-shape folks, along with performance and endurance building.
  • Low Intensity: Fat loss for more obese or unconditioned folks, as well as a way to mix things up for the fitness freaks out there!

We found tons of conflicting studies that made compelling arguments for both high and low from a wide variety of angles and you will too if you dig into the subject deeper. The bottom line is it’s best to focus on what’s ideal for you and your body. Thanks for reading! 

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