Calorie Burn: HIIT vs. Long Cardio Sessions

What gives you the most calorie burning bang for your buck - a long slow cardio session or a quick burst of intense training? Get-Fit Guy explains the surprising results of the latest research.

Ben Greenfield
2-minute read

Have you ever been at the gym or exercising and wondered whether you could just get away with running hard for, say, 5 30-second efforts on a treadmill versus riding easily on a bicycle for 30-45 minutes? A recent study looked into just that question.

The study, fittingly enough titled “High-intensity interval exercise induces 24-h energy expenditure similar to traditional endurance exercise despite reduced time commitment” discovered that HIIT (or High Intensity Interval Training) doesn’t actually burn quite as many calories as a long slow cardio effort.

But here’s the amazing part: The HIIT increased the participants'metabolism so high that it wound up inducing just as high a calorie burn as long, slow cardio training! The difference is that those calories were burned during the rest of the day after the exercise session rather than during the exercise session itself.

Considering that HIIT, of course, requires less training volume and a lower time commitment, this is great news for anyone trying to get more bang for their buck out of their exercise time.

I just used this technique this morning. I wanted to go on a 45-minute jaunt in the park prior to an airplane flight, but only had 10 minutes to spare. So I instead went out to the street in front of my house and did 10 sprints as fast as I could. It was nice to know that it produced just as powerful a metabolic effect as the time-consuming jog. Wouldn’t you agree?

Do you have more questions about what kind of exercise burns the most calories? Head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy and join the conversation!

Bicycle riding image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.