Long Workouts or Short Bursts, what really is best?

With so much information around about how to exercise, where to do it, what to wear and even how to breathe whilst you do it, it’s pretty hard to know what’s going to work for you. We thought we would bring together some information on whether short workouts like HIIT are best for you, or whether you should be spending longer on your training to get the best results.


You’ve probably heard this term bandied around a lot recently but what does it actually mean? HIIT – or high intensity interval training means doing short bursts of very intense exercise to get the biggest bang for your buck in your training. Some intervals could be as short as 20 seconds with 10 seconds to rest between each one.

HIIT is great for you if…

  • You don’t have much time to workout – HIIT sessions start at just 5 minutes but you MUST keep up the intensity to reap the same rewards as a longer workout
  • You want to burn fat – it’s great for burning fat during and after the workout
  • You want to strengthen your cardiovascular system
  • You don’t have access to a gym – many HIIT workouts can be done at home, like these ones

Longer Workouts

Going out on a long walk, or a slow, long jog also has its benefits. Although many people are advocating quick workouts, to build up a good ‘base fitness’ it’s important to do regular longer activities. Once your base fitness has improved, it’s easier to maximise your top-end fitness which helps with speed and agility in sports. Aside from the physical benefits of exercise, you should also consider the mental benefits you get from your training. If you hate HIIT, don’t do it! Exercise should be enjoyable and if getting outside for a long, brisk walk is your way of having some me-time after a busy week at work then that is exactly what you should do.

Longer workouts, also known as ‘steady state cardio’ is also better for your heart. Whilst HIIT is good for your aerobic system, sometimes the heart is beating so fast that it is not fully refilling the left ventricle. In order to work this ventricle fully, it has to be working at a lower BPM (beats per minute).  Working the heart like this means that over time your heart rate will be lower both during exercise and at rest. A lower heart rate is also linked to an improved ability to relax, focus and recover from stress.

Steady State Cardio is for you if…

  • Exercise is a stress-reliever
  • You don’t enjoy really intense exercise
  • You have time to add in 30-60 minutes of exercise rather than 5-30 minutes
  • Exercise is a chance to socialise for you
  • You already have an aerobic exercise that you enjoy like running, walking or cycling
  • You want to exercise with your family

In short, you should do what suits your lifestyle and fitness needs most. The best type of exercise you can do is something you do consistently! Many fitness experts recommend a mixture of both types of workouts to achieve a good level of cardiovascular health and strength.

Which type of workout do you prefer?