Some say slow and steady winds the race. When it comes to cardio, the opposite is true.
The problem most people make with their cardio is that they place too much emphasis on the duration of their workout. Instead, they should focus on the one thing that really matters – intensity.
This is where interval training comes in.
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Interval training alternates periods of sprinting (or close-to-sprinting) efforts followed by periods of rest, or easy movement. The beauty is you can choose whatever cardio tool you wish – cycling, running, boxing, even walking if you alternate the speed.
They can be tailored to any age and fitness level.
Here are 5 reasons to start interval training as part of your Paleo lifestyle.
1. Interval Training Is More Effective Than Continuous Cardio
The main goal of nearly all beginner exercisers is fat loss. Can you guess the main exercise people chose in their battle of the bulge?
Jogging or walking.
Whilst these are great choice for absolute beginners, they become ineffective for fat loss and cardiovascular fitness after 2-3 months.
Recent studies have shown that only three 27-min interval sessions burn a greater amount of fat compared to five 60-min continuous sessions!
So if your primary goal is fat loss, skip the long duration cardio workouts and focus instead on high intensity interval training.
2. Interval Training Creates The “After-burn”
Where interval training workouts are superior is the fact they keep burning calories after the workout. This is referred to as the “after-burn” effect.
In short, your body cannot supply enough oxygen during a hard sprint. So you create a “debt” of oxygen that needs to be repaid. During continuous cardio – such as a the previous example of a walk or jog – there is a very small debt that is repaid virtually immediately. This results in no after-burn effect.
The debt achieved during high intensity interval training is much higher. Your metabolism is revved up for hours after your workout ends. Fitness professionals refer to this phenomenon as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Basically this means your heart rate, oxygen consumption, and blood flow is increased. This requires more calories, and in turn means greater fat loss.
If you want to take advantage of EPOC and burn more calories after your gym workout, be sure to schedule regular interval sessions into your weekly schedule.
3. Interval Training Spares Muscle Tissue
Muscle tissue has an immediate impact on your metabolism; the more muscle you carry, the higher your resting metabolism.
This is why resistance training should be a priority every week. It will help you burn more fat, re-shape your body and increase your muscle tissue. All of which result in a leaner, stronger and better-looking body.
It’s worth noting that excessive cardio can actually deplete muscle tissue. This means that you could potentially sacrifice your metabolism permanently in an attempt to burn more fat.
However recent studies have shown that if you start interval training, you can actually spare muscle tissue.
The studies demonstrated that the longer the cardio session was, the greater the impairment of muscle tissue. However the studies found that short, high intensity bouts of cardio (such as repeated sprinting or cycling intervals) didn’t impact on strength or hypertrophy development.
Your goal is to maintain muscle, so that your metabolism can remain elevated. Interval training is perfect for this.
4. Interval Training Burns More Fat
What was also interested from the studies was that interval cardio was not just better for strength and hypertrophy; it was also superior for fat loss.
It was shown that subjects who performed four-to-six sets of 30-second sprints lost twice as much body fat as people who performed low intensity cardio for 30-60 minutes.
5. Interval Training Saves Time
Interval training will save you hours each week. Anything that saves time in today’s busy lifestyle is a bonus.
Interval training workouts are short, effective, and can completed in as little as 15-20 minutes. If you were to replace 4 x 60-minute continuous cardio workouts each week with 4 x 15-minute interval training workouts, you have effectively created 3 additional hours each week.
You can use this for meal preparation, spend it on important work tasks, or simply enjoy more time with your family.
The actual time spent on the workout is irrelevant. It is a matter of quality over quantity.
Don’t worry if you can’t find a gym – the beauty of interval training is that it can be done anywhere, anytime. You can run, walk, or even use body weight resistance exercises to create your interval training workout.
Interval training reigns supreme in the battle for a higher metabolism, improved aerobic fitness and increased fat burn. To get started, here are 10 effective HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts to work you into shape.
(Your Next Workout: 7-Minute Strength Interval Jump Rope Workout)