High Intensity Interval Training vs Metabolic Training

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Is metabolic training the same as HIIT?

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m talking about the difference between high intensity interval training vs metabolic training vs LISS cardio.

This is episode number 7 in our 9 part series on the Truth About Cardio.

If you want to accelerate your fat loss, in less time, it’s best to train at a higher intensity.

And when I say, higher intensities, it’s all relative to your current fitness level.

For example, if you’re a beginner, a high intensity could simply be a fast walk.

High Intensity Interval Training vs Metabolic Training vs LISS Cardio

One form of short duration, high intensity exercise, is called high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Another form of high intensity exercise, that is often used synonymously with HIIT workouts, is called metabolic training.

I mentioned this in an earlier video on How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly.

In the past, I’ve incorrectly classified a few of my follow along YouTube workout videos as HIIT cardio.

Don’t get me wrong, they were still awesome workouts.

But technically they should have been classified as metabolic training workouts, not HIIT workouts.

So today, I want to compare high intensity interval training vs metabolic training vs LISS cardio.

High Intensity Interval Training vs Metabolic Training vs LISS Cardio

What is metabolic training?

Metabolic training is often classified as cardio with weights or your bodyweight.

The goal of metabolic training is to maximize calorie burn and increase your metabolism after the workout is over.

Therefore, the exercises used in metabolic training are primarily compound, multi-joint exercises, as these exercises burn the most calories.

Metabolic training workouts keep rest periods shorter

These exercises are usually completed in circuit format, with very little rest between exercises.

The short rest periods is what makes metabolic training different than HIIT workouts.

By limiting the amount of rest between exercises, it keeps your heart rate elevated.

This burns more calories and boosts your metabolism after the workout.

This means your body could be burning calories, at a higher rate, throughout the day.

Since you limit rest periods, you can complete a metabolic training workout in as little as 10-30 minutes.

High Intensity Interval Training vs Metabolic Training

Metabolic training workouts increase EPOC

Similar to HIIT cardio, metabolic training is one of the most effective and fast ways to lose fat.

By combining metabolic training with a calorie deficit, you can burn more fat, than if you just dieted alone.

This increase in metabolism is referred to as EPOC.

EPOC is short for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.

I prefer to call it the Afterburn Effect.

High Intensity Interval Training vs Metabolic Training vs LISS Cardio

We’ve incorporated metabolic training style workouts in my Live Lean Afterburn 2.0 program.

One of my favorite metabolic training workout styles with weights, that I included in Afterburn, are called complexes.

I filmed a complex workout here that you should check out.

What is high intensity interval training (HIIT)?

High Intensity Interval Training vs Metabolic Training

High intensity interval training is simply working out at a high intensity, to raise your heart rate for a short period of time.

This is followed by active recovery, to allow your heart rate to drop back down.

The high intensity interval portion could be a higher effort sprint to elevate your heart rate to 85% of your maximum heart rate, for 20 – 60 seconds.

This short, high intensity interval is then followed by a slow walk, for as long as it takes to drop your heart rate back down to 65% of your maximum heart rate.

This is the main difference between high intensity interval training vs metabolic training

It’s the recovery time.

With metabolic training, the recovery time is limited.

It’s essentially taking as little rest as possible, so you can complete the workout faster.

With high intensity interval training, the recovery time is dependent on your heart rate.

Once you heart rate drops to a certain level, no matter how long it takes, this is when you move on to the next high intensity interval.

As I showed you in the video on how to do HIIT cardio correctly, your maximum heart rate is calculated as follows.

How to calculate your HIIT heart rate training zones:

  • Maximum heart rate (MHR) = (220 – age)
  • High intensity heart rate = MHR x .85.
  • Low intensity heart rate = MHR x .65.

You’d repeat each high intensity and low intensity interval for up to 10 total intervals, or for 20 minutes.

HIIT cardio workouts usually last between 20-30 minutes, including the warm up and cool down.

How to lose fat without losing muscle

One of the major issues with traditional forms of low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio is that although people may lose weight, the weight can also come from burning lean muscle mass.

Muscle is the key metabolic driver, that will not only help your burn fat at rest, it is also key to keeping you young.

Therefore the goal of your workout should not be to just lose weight.

The goal should be to lose weight from stored body fat, while maintaining muscle.

Besides increasing your metabolism, HIIT cardio and metabolic training workouts also help you lose significantly more fat, without losing muscle, while in a calorie deficit.

However, contrast that with what most people do for cardio.

They do excessive amounts of low intensity steady state cardio, where you complete longer duration workouts, at a slightly elevated heart rate.

This does the opposite where it can reduce your metabolism and burn into lean muscle, while in a calorie deficit.

Bottom line: high intensity interval training vs metabolic training vs LISS cardio

HIIT cardio and metabolic training are very effective in not only burning fat, but also maintaining lean muscle.

Long duration LISS cardio may burn more calories during your workout, since they are longer workouts.

However, HIIT cardio and metabolic training workouts can burn more overall fat, in less time, due to the increase in your metabolism.

As mentioned in my previous videos, there are pros and cons to both HIIT cardio, LISS cardio, and metabolic training.

It all depends on your current situation and what your specific goals are.

Sure, doing any form of exercise at the gym, and eating in a calorie deficit, can help you lose weight.

But wouldn’t you prefer to burn off that weight faster, while ensuring the weight is coming from stored body fat, and not lean muscle?

Having a workout program that is designed to burn a lot of calories, and nutrition plan that satisfies your cravings, while still being in a calorie deficit, is the most effective and sustainable way to lose weight.

You can go take our Live Lean Body Quiz to discover the best program for you based on your specific goals, fitness level, and access to equipment.

Welcome to Live Lean Sprint 2.0!

Live Lean Sprint 2.0

If you’re looking for the best HIIT cardio, LISS cardio workouts, and the nutrition plan to burn belly fat as fast as possible, go pick up a copy of my brand new Live Lean Sprint 2.0 program.

We’re also hooking up the first 250 people who buy the program with a copy of our brand new TeamLiveLean.com 30 day Fat Melting Power Sets resistance training program.

Thanks for watching and keep Living Lean.


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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.

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