There is a repeated behavior in training and in life, which is to hold on to the new and discard the old. With the emergence of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) we have neglected the many benefits of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT). Why choose one when we can use both?
A meta-analysis recently published in one of the world’s leading scientific journals, Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, evaluates which of the two types of training, HIIT or MICT, is more suitable for the prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic diseases: body composition, blood pressure, blood lipids, glucose, etc.
Physical activity has shown relevant benefits in all cardiovascular and metabolic aspects, both in healthy and sick people. However, the type of physical exercise can combine different variables such as intensity and duration, resulting in longer and less intense workouts, or vice versa.
The conclusions of the meta-analysis on which we base this article show that HIIT may be more effective in improving fitness and cardiovascular health, while MICT appears to be superior in improving long-term glucose metabolism.
However, no differences were shown in other aspects evaluated, giving the combination of the two models as the “winner”. One does not live without the other. Physiologically we are not able to perform true HIIT every day, as its high intensity does not allow us to do so.
On the other hand, if we only perform MICT we will lack that high intensity, one of the main variables in training, and vital in improving overall physical health. The ideal, therefore, both to improve our physical fitness, body composition and the different biomarkers of health is to make use of both types of training.
A genuine HIIT session is not within the reach of everyone. That is why, depending on our physical level, and the presence or not of any metabolic disease, it is advisable that the bulk of our programming is with the use of MICT.
One day a week, or two at the most, we can introduce HIIT to provide that extra intensity and reap the benefits it brings. The rest of the days we will use longer duration workouts with moderate intensity.