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HIIT, cardio, weight-training what kind of exercise is best?


Isn’t it confusing? People talk about HIIT being amazing, but is it really? Or what about cardio – how high does your heart-rate really need to be and is there really a fat burning zone? Let’s get things straight to begin with, exercise is good for you. ANY EXERCISE. Whatever exercise you do is better than no exercise at all. But how do you determine what’s the best type of training for you? As with most things, it really depends on your goal. In determining what’s the best training for you, you need to think about what kind of result you want.

Best for your heart

Aerobic exercise is considered best for your heart because it makes your heart work harder to pump blood and burns calories. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, running, dancing, swimming, and bicycling. Your aerobic exercise can be made up of both light and moderate intensity exercise – you could do a spin class or simply spend some time on the xtrainer. Whilst aerobic exercise is considered best for your heart don’t discount strength training, when combined with aerobic exercise, strength training will help to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol and can also reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. You could try a BodyPump class – check our timetable

Best for your bones

Strength training which can be either with free weights or machines (or resistance bands) whilst helping to build and maintain muscle mass and strength also leads to stronger bones. Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several show it can even build bone! Through a process known as bone remodeling, strength training stimulates the development of bone osteoblasts: cells that build bones back up. Weight training is really the best way to maintain and enhance total-body bone strength.

Best for the ‘time-poor’

HIIT Training is really your best ‘value for money’ type of exercise if you don’t have much time. Depending on the type of HIIT workout you, it can target all muscles in a single session and combines elements of both strength cardio workouts. Because HIIT training works over short intervals you are able to work at a much higher intensity than you would over an extended period, so you can get your heart rate hight and burn calories, HIIT also keeps your heart rate elevated for up to 2 hours post your session so you keep burning those calories well after you’ve left the gym. Interested in trying HIIT? Read more information about our HIIT sessions

Best for weight-loss

A combination of weight-training and cardio training is considered the best for weight-loss. Even though weight training might not be the first thing you think of when you’re trying to lose weight, our body burns the majority of its calories at rest and muscles burn calories, so the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn! Plus any exercise you do is good exercise, remember? Strength training should be an integral part of any weight-loss program, coupled with whatever form of cardio or other exercise you enjoy to keep you motivated an add variety.

Best of the best?

My ideal weekly program would include at least 2 dedicated weight training sessions to build strength and lean muscle mass, then add in some cardio for hearth health – and the best cardio to add is the one that you enjoy doing!  Plus a yoga, pilates or some stretching to balance out your heavy training and a HIIT session for a bit of a fat-loss boost and variety. This plan might vary at different times of the year, so if I’m training for City2Surf I might ditch my HIIT and Boxing class and sub in a couple of runs. Or if summer is approaching I might add in an extra weights and an extra HIIT session – it really depends on YOUR goal and what you enjoy doing. There’s no point planning a 3-day a week weight-training program if you keep making excuses and end up doing nothing at all. Still confused? Meet with one of our trainers to work out a weekly plan that will get you the best results.