Fat Loss Tip: Follow HIIT with Steady-State Cardio

Fat Loss Tip: Follow HIIT with Steady-State Cardio

By Jared Boynton | 4/27/17

There are two steps to burning body fat through cardiovascular exercise: first you have to release the fat into the bloodstream as freeform fatty acids (FFAs), then you have to burn those fatty acids so that they aren’t stored again. Completing step one without completing step two is worse than treading water – you’re putting forth 90% of the work and reaping 0% of the benefits.

HIIT’s main benefit is exerting an immediate oxidation response. The heavy, fast-paced activity essentially shocks the body into scrambling for resources, and results in a hyperactive release of FFAs from the larger stored lipid molecules in order for use as fuel. This kneejerk reaction results in spiked bloodstream levels of fatty acids that are much higher than necessary for the formation of ATP, and thus these fatty acids are typically shuttled back into fat tissues shortly after interval training ceases.

There are two ways to combat this:

  1. Extend your period of HIIT, which is not a particularly feasible scenario during a caloric deficit due to diminished energy levels.
  2. Follow up your intervals with an extended period of steady-state cardio.

Steady state cardio, while not particularly great at spiking FFA release, is incredibly well suited for burning and churning through the nutrients already present in the bloodstream (glucose, fatty acids, etc). This will allow you to capitalize on the elevated levels of fatty acids that were released during your HIIT session without drilling yourself into the ground doing 30+ minutes of intervals.

A typical approach that I apply to clients is as follows – do intervals, then double your interval time period with a subsequent steady-state cardio session. For example: 20 minutes of HIIT followed by 40 minutes of LISS is often adequate enough to burn the majority of the FFAs released during the initial oxidation spike. 


  1. Falcone, et al. Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Mar;29(3):779-85. PUBMED


Jared Boynton is a strength, performance, and conditioning coach with a wide range of knowledge on nutrition, supplementation, biomechanics. His experience has been proven through years of real-world implementation with both his own physique and the physiques of numerous clients. You can contact Jared via email at Coach@JaredBoynton.com.

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