The following pertains to the questions I've been receiving regarding steady state cardio and HIIT. As always, I am available to assist you in running as well as creating a cardio program appropriate for your upcoming race or event. Below you will find the specific explanations between steady state cardio and intervals. Happy running!
Steady State Cardio - The type of cardio everyone does at the gym. Steady state cardio has been the most popular form of cardio for many years. Traditional guidelines suggest people exercise for 20-45 minutes of continuous activity 3x a week. You see the typical woman performing this while riding the bike or elliptical reading US weekly (I will take the magazine out of your hand and smack you with it if I see you doing this.)
But is she reaping any benefit at allI?
The answer is yes, She is burning calories. But there are a few things one should consider about slower steady state cardio and why interval training is worth so much more of your time and energy.
Interval training -The type of cardio almost no one does at the gym.
Defined as anaerobic, interval training is various forms of cardio, with short high intensity bouts of exercises followed by rest periods.The body adapts very quickly to workouts. You burn less and less calories doing the same workout consistently. This is called efficiency. Or the fancy scientific term you've all heard before; EPOC. EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. All it is is a measure of the increased rate of oxygen intake post workout. The body becomes very good at that steady state cardio so you eventually burn less and less calories. If the heart rate is not reaching over your individualized 85% maximum exertion (also known as the Lactate Threshold heart rate), there is little to no metabolic boost post-workout. However, keep in mind the less shape one is in the more potential your LTHR is below 85%.
Bottom line: If you train the same, you stay the same. This statement holds a lot of weight and truth when it comes to cardio. Below you will find a formula (known as the Karvonen formula) to obtain your 85% maximum HR level. (FYI- Resting HR should be taken in the AM while you are still lying in bed before actually getting up to start the day and before you have eaten anything for maximum efficiency).
220 - Age = Maximum HR
Max HR – Resting HR = HRR (heart rate reserve) HRR x .85% + Rest HR = WHERE YOU SHOULD BE DURING YOUR INTERVALS.
*Trainer tip: Get a heart rate monitor to measure accuracy! It's a fool proof way to know where you are at.
So what do I personally recommend? If you are going strictly for fat loss and just want to look good naked, I would highly recommend HIIT. An example of an HIIT workout (or interval workout), would be warm up for 5-10 minutes. Then take yourself up to 10MPH for 1 minute (or however fast you need to go to get to your 85% max, this will vary from person to person), then recover at 5MPH for 1.5 minutes. Repeat this 8-10 times. Add a cool down in (5-10 minutes) and there you have it! A much more beneficial workout for the average man and woman with cutting cardio time down in nearly half. BOOM! That "I don't have time" excuse? Out the window. On to the next.
Ok Ok...There are exceptions to this theory. The only exception is marathon runners. Marathon runners and other specific endurance athletes should continue to do their long distance runs because that is their sport! When I was training for the NYC Marathon, there was no way I'd make it if I strictly did intervals. I may have looked great but no way was I finishing 26.2 miles. Tu comprendes? If you are going to compete in a SPECIFIC EVENT, you must train for that event- PERIOD. Whether that be a marathon, tough mudder, triathlon, rock climbing extravaganza, etc. You must train and condition your body for that specific endurance event.
Take home points:
Interval training will not compromise lean body mass research shows fat loss is significant when compared to steady state. And trust me ladies and gentlemen, It is not boring. AND the time spent doing it is less. Studies show when doing intervals one will lose more fat compared to one who is performing steady state cardio. WIN!
(Strictly speaking, the terms "aerobic" and "anaerobic" refer to the presence and absence of oxygen. Aerobic means with oxygen. Anaerobic means without.)
If you can't spend 45 minutes on the treadmill, you don't have to! Shorter bouts of exercise is proven to be better for us. Remember, burning calories should not be the primary goal and focus when working out. Instead, we need to start focusing more on our individualized heart rates!
As always, I am here with all other questions and concerns.