6 minute read

October 13, 2020

          Spelling and cardio--a body builders two biggest fears! In this blog post I am going to talk about both of them…Boo! (It is spooky season after all).


          In all seriousness though, I used to be very anti-cardio, but I have recently discovered, thanks to quarantine, that cardio has many benefits and it doesn’t necessarily “kill gains” as Athlean-X yells in your face 10 times a day. Like many of us have found, cardio and running/walking in particular is a great activity to do to get out of the house and get some fresh air--especially when there is a global pandemic going on. I found that running would actually relax me, and I saw decreases in stress and anxiety. Even though the idea of running more than half a mile makes you want to shit your pants, it is actually good for you mentally and physically!


          So, when I say cardio, what do I actually mean? The way I see it, there are two main types of cardio that you can do. There is High Intensity Interval Training cardio or HIIT if you like spelling and Low Intensity Steady State cardio or LISS. Now you know what those letters in the title are!


          Oh geez, now you want me to explain what each one is?!? You’re so needy…


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

          HIIT training, as the name describes, involves short periods of high intensity movement followed by short breaks in between each interval. HIIT can actually be done with any form of cardio and basically any form of exercise as well. It is great to do in the form of circuits while you are trying to get lean (I lost 20 lbs during quarantine doing this form of exercise but that’s a story for another night). What I usually suggest to my friends when they ask about HIIT cardio is to do the following:


1.    Pick your favorite form of cardio (running, cycling, swimming, boxing, even walking etc.)

2.    Perform 5-minutes of that cardio at a light pace to warm-up


4.    relax for 10-seconds (walk/bike slowly/tread water etc.)

5.    Repeat steps 3 and 4, 10-15 times

6.    Cool down by continuing the cardio at a light pace for 2-3 more minutes

          This whole workout shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes and that’s one of the major pros of HIIT cardio; it is very time efficient and can easily be fit into your college or at home schedule. All you need is a field to frolic in!


There are many health benefits to HIIT cardio as well:

·     Fat loss: A 2012 study found that overweight participants performing HIIT cardio for 12-weeks saw a significant reduction in visceral fat (Heydari et al., 2012).

·     Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease: A 2015 study found that HIIT cardio improved the participants VO2 max more significantly than moderate intensity continuous training (Shepard et al., 2015). The VO2 max is used in many studies as a good indicator of high cardiorespiratory fitness and therefore lower risk of getting cardiovascular diseases according to the American Heart Association (Wikipedia, 2020).

·     Improved mental health: Many studies have found links between HIIT cardio and decreases in depression and one 2015 study even found a link between HIIT cardio and positive effects on patients suffering with chronic schizophrenia (Wu et al., 2015)!  


          If all that wasn’t enough for you, a 2019 study of college students at the University of Newcastle in Australia (where the toilets flush backwards) found that HIIT cardio not only had many of the same health benefits described above but was also highly rated amongst the students as satisfying, enjoyable, and valuable (Eather et al., 2019).


          One of the main downsides with HIIT cardio is that, well it's Intense, Highly Intense… When I finish up a HIIT workout, I am usually drenched in sweat and don’t feel like moving ever again. I even actually pulled my hamstring doing HIIT cardio once (that’s why you always stretch before running kids). This may be unappealing to some or even not possible due to health problems and that is completely okay and that’s why we have:


Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISS)

          LISS cardio again has a pretty great name because it pretty much describes the entire activity. It involves performing low intensity cardio at a steady pace for an extended period of time. I usually suggest the following:


1.    Pick your favorite form of cardio (running, cycling, swimming, boxing, even walking etc.)

2.    Perform the cardio for at least 30 mins but no more than 60, at a slow, steady pace.

3.    You should feel comfortably tired at the end, not about to pass out from exhaustion.

          And that’s it! Pretty simply! The great thing about LISS is that it is great for people of all ages and athletes of all levels as it is gentle and easy on the body while still giving yourself quite the workout. It too can be done anywhere, at any time, which makes it great for college students! The main downside of LISS is that it is quite time consuming and can take up to an hour, which, especially if you are doing cardio after lifting weights, most people do not have time for.


Some benefits of LISS cardio are:

·     Fat Loss: LISS allows your body to use fat as fuel while exercising which means you will burn any excess fat while performing this cardio instead of glycogen stored in your muscles and you will therefore lose fat (Lindberg, 2019).

·     You are more likely to stick with it since it is not as taxing and uncomfortable on your body.

·     Enhanced Recovery: As I will mention in a later blog posts, recovery and rest is just as important as exercise itself. LISS cardio is not as taxing on your central nervous system and body in general and will therefore allow you to recovery better which means not only more muscle growth but more energy to do other parts of your workout such as lifting weights (Clark, 2018).


          Well, there you have it. I feel like I was pretty unbiased this time and I would bet that you can’t even tell which form of cardio is my favorite (hint: I like them both)! Anyways just a quick summary: cardio is an important part of any workout and I highly recommend it for anyone either looking to lose fat, get toned, or increase their cardiovascular health and endurance. HIIT cardio is for those that are more time sensitive and are able to physically destroy their bodies during a workout. LISS is for those who like feeling their legs the next morning and maybe have some extra time on their hands as well.


          I hope all this talk about cardio didn’t scare you guys too much and you still come back next week!


Happy Running,

           Seagull Strength

Works Cited

Clark, Shannon. “GoingSteady: 5 Reasons To Do Steady-State Cardio.”, 1 Oct.2018,

Eather, Narelle, et al.“Efficacy and Feasibility of HIIT Training for University Students: The Uni-HIIT RCT.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 22, no. 5,2019, pp. 596–601., doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2018.11.016.

Heydari, M., et al. “The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males.” Journal of Obesity, vol. 2012, 2012, pp. 1–8.,doi:10.1155/2012/480467.

Lindberg, Sara. “What IsLISS Cardio and Is It Right for You?” Edited by Daniel Bubnis, Healthline, 3 Oct. 2019,

Shepherd, Sam O., et al.“Low-Volume High-Intensity Interval Training in a Gym Setting Improves Cardio-Metabolic and Psychological Health.” PLOS ONE, Public Library ofScience, 24 Sept. 2015,

“VO2 Max.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Sept. 2020,

Wu, Meng Hsiu, et al. “Effectiveness of High-IntensityInterval Training on the Mental and Physical Health of People with Chronic Schizophrenia.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2015, p. 1255.,doi:10.2147/ndt.s81482.

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