Interval Training vs. Steady Paced Cardio
Ever wonder why a sprinter has less body fat and more muscle than a marathoner?
The higher intensity the workout=the more fat calories burned and more muscle is developed.
Over the last several years countless studies have emerged on the benefits of interval training. One recent article in “The Journal of Applied Physiology” claimed that 6 minutes of high intensity interval training was as productive as 6 hours of moderate and steady endurance. Now, this might seem like a stretch, but you get the idea. Studies have shown that interval training will give you a superior conditioning workout, burn more fat, and create more muscle growth.
Benefits of Intervals versus Steady or Aerobic Exercise
1.Trains both aerobic and anaerobic systems
- Jogging or exercising at a constant pace works your slow twitch muscle fibers whereas interval training and high intensity intervals train fast twitch fibers.
2. Increased rate of fat burning. (Improved mitochondrial uptake)
- Intervals increase fat oxidation levels during and after exercise (You will continue to burn fat for between 24-48 hours post workout)
- The “Afterburn” effect: More calories burned post-exercise than steady state/low intensity exercise. This happens because your resting metabolic rate(RMR) is increased which means even when you are sleeping you are burning more calories!
3. Boosts antioxidant levels
- Studies show interval training was associated with a 15% increase in total antioxidant status.
4. Improves oxygen uptake
- Allows you to build the capacity to absorb more oxygen in your workouts
5. Great way to build lean muscle
6. Majority of fat loss from sprint intervals comes from the trunk area!
7. Allows you to complete a workout in a much shorter time period
- Most interval workouts take between 10-25 minutes
Interval training, especially at a high intensity, is more mentally and physically taxing. There is no doubt you will be more tired after an interval workout as opposed to doing something at a lower level or constant rate.
The Different Options
One of the other great things about intervals is the variety of modes and techniques to utilize in an interval workout.
1. Ability to utilize different cardio machines
- Rowing Machine
2. You can adjust your times for intervals and rest period
- Adjust your work to rest ratio(2:1 vs 1:2-Example, run for 30 seconds walk for 15(2:1) or run for 1 minute walk for 2 (1:2))
3. Adjust the intensity of your sprints and resting heart rate
- Find your maximum heart rate (Your theoretical maximum heart rate is defined at 220-your age.) and vary your sprints accordingly. An example would be for the first few reps try to enter the 70% zone of your maximum heart rate and then for the next few reps try to get in the 80% zone of your maximum heart rate.
So to answer the question. A 45 minute jog is a good way to exercise and burn calories. However, there are more beneficial ways to spend your 45 minutes if you are looking to burn more calories, more belly fat, or increase performance. All out sprints and high intensity intervals vs. traditional cardio is based on a person’s motivation and goals. For serious athletes, I would strongly suggest using intervals as the main component of your conditioning. While it is great to incorporate different forms of exercise, interval training has proved the most beneficial for performance. For the Average Joe or people looking to burn fat and exercise, you don’t necessarily need to be doing intervals at full intensity, but I suggest you try incorporating intervals in your weekly routine. Having a good mix of steady cardio and intervals will keep the body guessing and interrupt the monotony of a steady cardio workout. Here is an example of a workout to get you started.
Also a little Holiday Treat (Dialing in my baking skills)
Banana, Almond, Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup whole wheat flour1/2 cup brown sugar3/4 cup of margarine or sunflower oil or combo2 eggs1 tsp vanilla extract2 cups of plain old-fashioned oats1 cup chopped almonds1/2 cup honey2 puree or mashed up bananasoptional-cinnamon, cocoa.