What’s the Shortest, Most Effective Cardio? We (and Science) Have Your Back

Don’t live your life on an elliptical.


today cardio

That’s about as cool as steady-state cardio is going to get.

Every Gym Bro’s Savior

It’s commonplace to hear high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is more efficient than the traditional, steady-state options, but why? The rationale behind it is actually not overly complex, and like we’ve said before: don’t simply believe everything the swole guy tells you; do some research.

HIIT will save you time and dish out the results quicker than enduring 45-minute bouts on an elliptical or stationary bike. However, it’s not going to be a cakewalk. For HIIT to be effective, it requires maximum effort.


Don’t worry, it won’t last long.

The Importance of EPOC

Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or for the non-science types — The Afterburn. This is the single most important factor behind the argument for HIIT. EPOC, in it’s simplest sense, occurs when you train at such a capacity that you can’t suck in enough air to compensate for the amount of it your body actually wants and needs (also referred to as “oxygen debt”).


Consequently, the harder you train in a short period of time, the more EPOC increases. This massive oxygen debt (much like your student loans) can’t be paid off all at once, therefore elevating the metabolism for hours after the fact.

It comes down to this:

Steady state cardio technically burns more calories at that point in time, but HIIT will keep your metabolism revved up all day. In the long run, intervals end up coming out on top (and they take about one quarter of the time).

Interval instruction on the next page…