I’ve been a fan of HIIT and interval training for well over a decade. It jacks up the metabolism, increases your natural fat burning hormone (HGH) and simply helps you lose a lot more body fat than diet alone. None of this is news to those familiar with interval training. What many people don’t realize is that interval training also increases your ability to do endurance exercise. The crazy thing is that intervals may be more effective at increasing endurance than endurance exercise itself!
[I was looking for a good exercise photo, but nothing wow’d me. Instead, I just put up a photo I liked with great use of color.]
The Interval Training Study With Surprising Results
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology back in 2005, took 16 subjects and divided them into 2 groups. Eight people did two weeks of sprint intervals, and eight people were the a control group who did nothing over these two weeks. Both groups were tested for endurance capacity, before and after these two weeks. They found that the interval group doubled their “endurance capacity” in this short time period!
Note: Here is a PDF abstract of the study: Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Increases Muscle Oxidative Potential and Cycle Endurance Capacity in Humans
Better Endurance Benefits Than Endurance Exercise
So we know that HIIT has been proven to increase endurance more than people who do nothing, but what about people who do endurance exercise? The researchers say that the result of their interval study is…”comparable to or higher than previously reported aerobic-based training studies of similar duration”. The subjects in their study, increased their endurance capacity more than an endurance study…where the participants did endurance exercise for a total of 20 hours in two weeks (2 hours per day for 5 days each week).
15 Minutes of HIIT vs 2 Hours of “Regular” Cardio?
It is kind of crazy to think that doing HIIT can increase endurance capacity more than doing endurance exercise itself. This will be a pretty big paradigm shift for a lot of people. This study isn’t new by any means, but this info still hasn’t reached mainstream. To this day, I rarely see people doing any type of interval work in the gym. It really is mind boggling! We have known for 15+ years that HIIT is superior to burning fat…and for the past 5 years that interval training may be one of the best ways to increase endurance.
What This Means for Endurance Athletes
I still believe that you must include endurance exercise if you are an endurance athlete. You have to strengthen the tendons and muscles to be able to endure the pain involved in endurance exercise. What I would recommend is a mix of intervals along with your endurance training. That way you get the best of both worlds.
What This Means for Everyone Else
I like to “milk” a little more fat burning after HIIT by throwing in some steady state cardio. This also conditions my body and joints a bit for sports that require me to run for extended periods. It feels good to know that I can run for 20-30 minutes without feeling body aches the next 2-3 days. That being said…I do limit this to about 1-2 times per week these days. If you are just after getting lean there probably isn’t any real need for long periods of steady state cardio.
Note: I do believe we need to walk more. I am going to do a detailed post on walking soon. I think that there are big, big benefits of walking and staying active throughout the week. I didn’t always think this way, but a findings from a recent study have been a big eye-opener!
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