Interval Training Improves Your Endurance, Better Than Endurance Exercise!

June 10, 2009

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!

interval training

[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!

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler June 10, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Great post; but I was a bit confused by the last section of this article. How often do you do HIIT a week? I have heard that 3-4 times is the most you should do it, but I have a very busy schedule and am not concerned with fat loss– I’ve hit my target weight, and now I just need to maintain. Thanks for any help.


Kane June 10, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Hey Rusty, It seems once again the benefits of HIIT are staring us in the face. After reading Mark Sissons ‘Primal Blueprint’ I think im going to be cutting my training down, and tightening up on carbs. I’m thinking of 2 strength training sessions, one sprint session, one bodyweight session per week. Along with at least half hour walking each day. Can your forsee any problems with this? As I’m used to working out much more often.


Irish June 10, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Hey Rusty,

Thanks for all the great articles, you have the best fitness website and information on the web. I did have a couple questions. How long does it take for the skin to tighten up after losing weight? Obviously it depends on the amount of weight and the body shape so here’s my own. I weighed 195 two months ago and am currently at 180. I think I will probably end up losing 5 to 10 more lbs on my way to getting as defined as I hope to. At 195 I was between 12 and 14% body fat and could only see my top two abs while flexing. Now I almost have a 6 pack while flexing and can see my abs well without flexing. By the way all of these results are thanks to your information so thank you very much for all your hard work. My other question was this. I spent a lot of years building up my power lifts (Dead, Squat, Bench, and Clean). One of the results of this has been my lower pecs and traps are overdeveloped. I read your post on square pecs and doing incline lifts and close grip lifts/pushups to obtain that look. I have been doing only incline lifts/pushups for the last couple months. Twice a week I will do 3 incline lifts for 4 sets and 4 slow reps. I also do the Turbulance Training Bodywieght circuits twice a weeks and do inclince spiderman pushups instead of regular. I dropped completely any flat and decline pec lifts. I just want to make sure I’m not overdoing it and that I wont continue to grow my lower pec. What is your advice on this am I going about getting square masculine shaped pecs the right way?

Thanks Again for everything and by the way when if ever do you plan on profiting from your hard work? This information and forum is the best on the web and you clearly have the skill set to earn a solid living from providing your knowledge and help to the masses.

Also, if you haven’t yet remember to check out Oaxaca in Ballard. Get the chips and gaucamole to start. The halibut tacos, carne asada tacos, as well as the Banana leaf wrapped tamales are all incredible. You said you spend some a lot of time in Ballard so here are some other cool places you should check out if you haven’t. Jolly Roger’s Tap House on Leary (it’s the bar for Maritime Ales connected to the tap house great beer and quality food). Coppergate has great beer and good Swedish food it’s over on 24th and 65thish. The bar is shaped like a Viking ship and the crowd is good people.

Greeno June 10, 2009 at 10:42 pm

i’m still looking at the photo…..

Anthony June 10, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Great post Rusty! You’re speaking some real truth here. I’ve been an advocate of this type of running, trying to convinve my friends for a long time. We did this type of running in track practice back in high school as well.
On a side note, (since you typed ‘milk’), I’ve eliminated all dairy from my diet after doing some research. It seems that it truly is bad for you, and I’ve found almond milk to be a great non-dairy milk substitute. So far, I’ve gone 1 week without ANY dairy, and I’m feeling pretty good. Avoiding pizza might be too tough to continue though, so we’ll see.

Yavor June 10, 2009 at 11:55 pm

I’ve got another cool parallel for you – lifting with low reps and heavy weights improves high-rep endurance more than doing actual high reps! Take pull-ups for example – work them with lots of sets of say 3 reps with a backpack, a dumbbell between your feet or a belt with some weights attached. Your bodyweight pull-up numbers will improve much faster than if you trained with body weight pulll=ups alone!

Jason G June 11, 2009 at 1:00 am


I try to avoid dairy as well. However its easier if you allow a little flexibility. Once a month have some pizza or some sour cream. I try to follow the eat as healthy as possible without looking like a square rule. You should research gluten to because it can cause some serious issues for some people.

maz June 11, 2009 at 4:50 am

Over the last 6-10 months ive cut right down on cardio [i used to average 60mins 3/4 times a week] i have a good weight training programme that i use and ive been slipping in the odd session of interval training just because its less boring! I do my weights session followed by 10 minutes of intervals on the treadmill or 3x 500m sprints on the rowing machine 2 or 3 times a week. Ive noticed my fat mass decrease from 20% to 18.7% [im a woman!] and i feel so much healthier doing this rather than boring old cardio. i look leaner too, theres def alot of truth in your article and i wish others in the gym would be a little more adventurous with their training!!

Denmark June 11, 2009 at 4:57 am

Hey Rusty,

Nice article…
I know you have explained this before, but I am still a bit confused about how to actually do interval training.
I will fx. do 30 seconds of jogging at 5mph and 1 minute of running at 8mph. ill do this for about 15 min before lifting session.
Does this sound right?? Please correct me if im wrong.

Thanks and keep up the good work. You are inspiring lots of us πŸ˜€

Ryan June 11, 2009 at 7:53 am

I started doing interval training just recently myself. Its been about six weeks. I was stuck in a rut on my weightloss scheme, trying to get off those few winter pounds. I was looking to change up my routine to break myself out of this rut.

I changed up my cardio from a steady 30 minute med paced run/jog to my interval routine. Its 4 minutes of warmup at a steady fast walk, then the remainder of the 30 minutes is 1 minute sprinting and 1 minute jogging. Off and on.

Not only did I break out of the rut and am shedding off the last bit of winter weight, but I noticed that my weekend runs are starting to become a little easier.

Interval training is definitely the way to go!

Michael - Fat Loss Reviews June 11, 2009 at 8:43 am

Interval training is a fave of mine, but I’m looking forward to the walking article because I too think it can be a great overall body activity. I also like to hit the outdoor stairs that are available here in my city for a great lower body burn. Reminds me, I should take some pics or shoot a video of this climb of 600 steps…

Eddy June 11, 2009 at 9:27 am

Fascinating post Rusty. It’s strange, I switched from doing steady state cardio to intervals completely about 18 months ago. Recently I started doing the occasional 30-45 minute session just for variety’s sake and it turns out my endurance levels have seen MASSIVE improvement.

At the time I found this baffling, but learning about this study helps shed some light on things. Cheers.

Fit Jerk - Flawless Fitness June 11, 2009 at 9:38 am

Interval Intensity Training is effective and useful because its NATURAL. Think about everything you do in life, it’s all in BURSTS. Not some ridiculous steady pace.

Sustaining a certain intensity for extended periods of time is not something were made for. So yeah, bang on Rusty. This does improve endurance.

Anyone done sparring in Jiu Jitsu? (known as rolling). Its like 5 minutes of the most intense sh*t you’ll ever do, but improves your overall performance in everything else.

Same with gymnastics (Arguably one of THE most demanding sports). Watch them… everything in bursts. And most gymnasts are RIPPED, and they never use weights. Hmm… I wonder why?

The proof is all around us, unfortunately people have been too blind in the past to see this. (well… not EVERY one)


Helder June 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

Funny thing, you know years ago, i use to do resistance training 4 times a week, and on sundays i would go play football (soccer) with my friends, at the time i wasn’t doing any type of cardio it all, but most of them were jogging, running, bike riding several times a week.

The funny thing is that i had more endurance than them, i could keep playing, running, sprinting for almost 2 hours, and they’re all tired before i was.

I never thought of testing that with interval cardio, but the principle might not be so different

Another good reason to keep only doing HIIT πŸ™‚

Loved the photo

Audi June 11, 2009 at 9:46 am

Would it be harmful to do HIIT one day and then a Crazy 8 circuit the next day for six days out of the week?

So it would be HIIT, C8, HIIT, C8, HIIT, C8, Rest?

Btw, thanks for all the great info that helped me lose 15 lbs (204 -> 189)

Anthony June 11, 2009 at 10:44 am

Hey Jason thanks for the tip.
I don’t know too much about gluten, but I consistently examine foods and ingredients. I don’t have a problem eating whatever I want in terms of weight, but I try to eat as healthily as possible, although I am not 100% rigid. (I tried the Paleo diet for like 2 days, but it was so hard for me to actually get my 3 meals in while eliminating breads, pasta, AND milk.)
What are some foods I should definitely be avoiding according to your advice?

Patrick June 11, 2009 at 10:47 am

Hey Jason G,

I noticed you have a solid understanding of the benefits of fiber. Have you read Fiber 35 by Brenda Watson. Are you familiar with the fiber flush effect. I think many readers with fat loss goals would benefit from a Rusty post on Fiber for fat loss, I think it’s importance is often overlooked but extemely valuable. I wont list everything it does, but for starters, it keeps you full so you dont snack between meals, it prevents some calories from being absorbed depending upon how many grams you take in. Some of the best sources are beans, old fash quaker oats, fiber one cereal, fruit, broccoli or any vegetables, nuts. If you load up on these foods daily you will prevent alot of calories from being absorbed, along with flushing away even more.

Cindy June 11, 2009 at 11:46 am

My boyfriend and I went to the gym last week and I was doing intervals and he was like wow your running fast. LOL. It’s so much quicker and more fun than boring cardio that most people do at the “Moderate” rate.

I have a question about one thing though – I have kinda been doing the same speeds. I start at about 6.5 and work my way up each successive sprint. Should I start at a faster speed for my first sprint and try and run faster or do more sprints in general.

Cindy June 11, 2009 at 11:51 am

why should people avoid dairy? I saw an above article that mentioned that. It’s funny because I have been eating really healthy and going to the gym but one thing I can’t leave alone is cereal (w/ milk) and I usually have some right before bed! I’m wondering if this is what is keeping me from better results.

John June 11, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Great post as always (and gorgeous picture!) . . . this is TRULY like someone said above . . . the best fitness site on the web.

But . . . sorry Rusty . . . the idea that HIIT beats endurance training in creating endurance is, in my opinion, baloney. I challenge anyone: Try traning for a marathon or even a 10K by running sprint intervals. Report back and tell us how it went!

How then to explain the findings of this study?

You have to read the study very carefully to understand what they’re saying and then be very carefull on how you apply those findings.

In this study, they gave 16 riders an “endurance test” on an exercise bike . . . which means you cycle like a bat out of hell at 80% of lung capacity (VO2 max) and they measure how long you can stay above 40 RPMs.

8 people then go off to do whatever they do normally . . . another 8 people are put through interval training three times a week for two weeks. The interval training was 30 seconds of high intensity cycling followed by 4 min rest. They worked approx 15 min so sounds like they did perhaps 4 intervals (?)

Then after two weeks they repeated the test and found that the riders could keep up the time they rode above 40 RPM by 80-170% longer than the guys who did nothing.

And why wouldn’t they? They’re more used to the equipment and to the people running the test . . . they have more motivation to do well . . . their butts are adjusted to the task of sitting on a seat, their legs are more used to the pedaling . . . and they’ve actually been exercising as opposed to doing nothing.

The endurance test was essentially a longer interval than they had practiced.

BUT . . . this doesn’t mean that they improved how fast they could ride, say, 5000 meters or how fast they could run a 10K.

The three energy systems overlap. Training the Glycotic Energy system will have some imnpact on the Aerobic Energy system but it can never replace actual Aerobic Energy system training.

sam June 11, 2009 at 12:29 pm


I switched to doing HIIT a few times a week since reading some of your posts on fat loss and have had great results. In one of your previous posts you mention that if a person wants to lose a little size than doing steady state cardio is ideal. Therefore, I have been alternating days I do HIIT with days I do 30-40 min of steady state cardio. Is this going to help me continue to lose weight, lower my BF, and lose a little bit of size. I am trying to get a soccer players build.


Rafi Bar-lev June 11, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Hey Rusty,

I’ve always found the problem with “regular” cardio exercise is it doesn’t significantly increase your heart-beat. That’s why you’ll see the heavy people at the pool who are extremely good swimmers and do a slow, relaxed breast-stroke for hours but yet don’t seem to be able to lose the weight.

I’ve always felt the trick to increasing your metabolism as well as increasing strength and stamina is related to getting your heart-beat and “fast-twitch muscles” going.

What you said about the importance of walking is definitely true. I live in Jerusalem, Israel, where people walk a LOT. You can see a huge difference in the average health of the people here compared to parts of the world where people just walk to their cars. That’s a really astute observation on your part.

By the way, I read your post where you advised that people who are able to offer real content shouldn’t be afraid to make a website. Well, I had been putting it off for awhile but I finally created TheFitnessAdviser.Com. I served in an elite IDF unit as a combat medic before getting a bad training injury, and I think I have a lot of good advice to offer to the fitness community. Especially when it comes to avoiding injuries!

You’ve been a huge inspiration to me when it comes to keeping in shape, especially when it comes to aging. I’m surprised I haven’t left a comment earlier. Anyway, keep up the good work Rusty!

michael June 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

I always do my cardio on a exercise bike, can you interval train on bike?I’ve only heard of people running for interval training and when I tried interval training on a bike it did’nt feel quiet right. Also what resistance should you have the bike at for building leg muscle while at the same time not reducing the endurance benefit?

thanks for the post, I was completly unaware that long duration cardio was not the best way to increase cardio,hiit should save me a lot of time.

The Spaniard June 11, 2009 at 1:20 pm

WALKING…humans have been trying to avoid walking since the dawn of dinosaurs. First we found animals to walk for us. After that we invented the bike, Ford gave us the car and Harley Davidson the cool ride…and who can forget the Segway (I think that is it’s name). We will try anything to avoid moving one leg infront of the other.
I think one of the reasons why in other countries you find less obese people is because they walk a lot. In how many cities in the US can you really go walking almost any where? New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Now take Europe. You can walk everywhere. If you are in Spain it doesn’t matter if you are in a big city like Madrid, Barcelona or San Sebastian, or if you are in a town or a village. If you don’t want to use the car you can walk to get to places, or walk to get the bus or the subway.
I think that aside from eating habits, walking is very important but people don’t have time to do it, or in some cases, like it happens in the US, it is very difficult to walk to places.

Anthony June 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Cindy, you can get almond milk, which tastes almost like regular milk. The dairy info I saw basically says that the human body cannot digest dairy products, and that they contribute to all sorts of detrimental conditions. In terms of calcium and vitamin D, you can get those from other sources, like orange juice (cal + D), broccoli (calcium), or shrimp (D).

deb June 11, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Did HIT yesterday and decided to test what my top speed is. I’ve been going along at ~7.5 mph (note: when I started 6.0 killed me). Yesterday I ran at 9 MPH on the treadmill with a 3 degree decline.

Darn that adaptive body forcing me to be faster.

Next month, it’s back to incline HIT at a steady pace.

I have been healthy -and mostly dairy free (does my whey powder count?) for almost 15 years. Almond milk is great except it curdles in coffee. There, you almost have to use soy.

I find it remarkable that humans believe we can wean our kids off breast milk (or not use it at all), but continue to consume another animal’s breast milk for the rest of our lives.

Tony Kim June 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Rusty, you have the best fitness blog on the net, but I wholly disagree with your article as well as your interpretation of the study you cited.

If someone wanted to improve their 5 mile jog time, then they should practice jogging 5 miles. If someone wants to increase their VO2 max, then yeah, intervals are great. I can assure you that endurance track athletes do not spend more time doing intervals than they do endurance-style training. Up until a few years ago, people used VO2 max to measure a person’s endurance…but that line of thought has been discarded. Today, researchers understand that though they are related, VO2 Max and endurance are two different things…..and the mechanisms behind them are different as well.

And to the person who said “regular” cardio is that the heart-rate doesn’t go up enough… How about increasing the intensity? Steady state cardio doesn’t have to be Easy state.

Tony Kim June 11, 2009 at 5:49 pm

EDIT:::: And to the person who said THE PROBLEM WITH “regular” cardio is that the heart-rate doesn’t go up enough… How about increasing the intensity? Steady state cardio doesn’t have to be Easy state.

Monica June 11, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Hi Audi – I have been doing this for the past couple weeks. Three times a week I do the weight routine of 5×5 and after HIIT for 15 minutes followed by 15 min walking. The other three days I do a circuit workout like crazy 8. I love it. I take one day off, on Sundays.

admin June 11, 2009 at 6:33 pm


To maintain, you can get away with HIIT just once or twice per week. Just do it two times per week to be safe…and 2-3 times per week if your diet isn’t ideal.


Looks like a great strategy. If your diet is tight, you really don’t need as much exercise. The one exercise to get as often as possible is walking (I will do a post on that soon). A few brief strength training sessions and a few brief HIIT will do the trick.


Hold that weight for 2-3 months and you will reach a higher level of sharpness. This is the best way to get amazing abs that look sharp regardless of the lighting. As far as pecs go…normal pushups are probably fine, unless it is easy for you to elevate your legs a bit. Everything else looks good to me. As far as writing a book or paid course…I will do it eventually. Right now I’m just having fun helping you guys. All of this talk about great Mexican food and beer is making me hungry!


I have backed off on dairy a bit as well, but still eat cheese on a regular basis. I don’t eat pizza that often, but certainly need my fix every now and then!


I find that to be true as well…except if I do fatigue quickly after a few sets like this if I’m not used to volume training.

Jason G,

I am not great with gluten and wheat, but I do tend to eat it every now and then.


It sounds like you have found a great approach. It is crazy how little exercise you need if it done strategically and with a good diet.


I would do it after lifting. Maybe change it to a longer rest period and a more intense run. So like 60 seconds of walking followed by 30 seconds of sprinting. The way you are doing it works as well. Type in “HIIT” into the search bar on my site for more articles.


That routine sounds good, just be careful to not over-train…30 minutes and 15 total sprints is rough. As long as you don’t feel too burnt-out from this I’m sure that you will drop the weight quickly. Jogging probably feels like a vacation compared to this!


I am doing my best to make an effort to walk more. There are stores within 1-2 miles of my apartment…I may walk instead of drive when I’m picking up fresh fruit. I am so used to drving everywhere that this will take some serious effort on my part.


That is good news. I know the best way to build better endurance is a good mix of endurance along with HIIT. Most of us probably don’t need to build massive levels of endurance so HIIT type workouts will do the trick.

Fit Jerk,

All of that fighting MMA type stuff looks brutal. Those guys are in outstanding shape. I’ve been watching this season of Ultimate Fighter and I’m very impressed with their conditioning.


I had a similar experience. I was only doing HIIT for a few years and zero steady state cardio and went to a track to see if I was in good enough shape to run a mile or two. I did rapidly ran 16 laps (4 miles) and didn’t feel winded at all. The next few days my calves and joints were sore, but the actual endurance part was easy.


Congrats on your weight loss. I think 6 days a week is excessive…maybe 2 days of C8 and 2 days of HIIT…for a total of 4 days. Stay active the entire week and you will be good. For the short term you cold get away with 5 days a week…but even that would be pushing it. That body weight circuit is brutal. Every time I do it…I have to “talk” myself into that third round. When I’m done I am breathing hard for the next 5-10 minutes.


As you get in better shape increase your starting point…or work up to a faster speed in less steps. I try to warmup with 6.5 or 7, but then go to 10.0 quickly after the warmup. So I have more sprints above the 10.0 speed. Hope that makes sense. Also…I would avoid the cereal and milk before bed. That will kill your fat loss results. I have a tough time getting lean if I eat milk and cereal, but everyone is different. I still eat some dairy, but limit it when possible.


Thanks for the compliment…I really do appreciate it. I think the thing to take away from this study is that HIIT does improve endurance up to a respectable level. If someone wanted to reach a high level of marathon level endurance, they would do best to mix in Intervals with endurance training. For someone who doesn’t want to do marathons or mini-marathons, the HIIT will most likely serve their endurance needs.


To lose muscle and fat, you are taking the right approach. Your body will naturally lighten up a bit if you do extended periods of marathon style cardio. For those who want to lose fat and maintain their muscle, they need to limit this a bit more.


There are parts of the US, where I see very few walkers. Some cities are better than others, but overall we don’t do well in this regard. I am going to make a point to walk when I can. I live in the downtown Seattle area and have many stores and restaurants within 1-3 miles. I should walk to these whenever possible. Also…I went over to your site and left a comment. I think you have the drive and experience to do well. Working your way out of injury and getting back in shape is a tough deal! Think how many people you can help by explaining your story, mindset, etc.


The first year I did HIIT it was on an exercise bike. It works extremely well. The only downside is that it can build up the thighs a bit. Women seem to have a bigger problem with this than men. If you need to add a bit of size it is perfect…do about 60 seconds of medium tension (6-10 level on most bikes) followed with 30 seconds of high tension (12+ level). You want to keep a fast pace, so don’t go to a high level that slows you don’t too much. If you want to build the legs a bit aim for a pump and burn in your thighs.

The Spaniard,

I like your observation that we have tried to do everything possible to avoid walking. So true! I think you can still walk most places in the US, you just have to watch out for cars. I can walk anywhere I want in Seattle, I just have chosen not to do it. I want to change that and develop the habit of walking more. It isn’t a “quick fix”…it is more about long term health. Great points about Europe. Every time you talk about Spain, makes me want to visit.


Milk is a tough one. I can’t stand an actual glass of milk anymore, but LOVE milk products…cheese, ice cream, cream cheese, etc. I feel best when I limit this, but like some of these foods to much to avoid altogether.


Yeah…the title of this post made it seem a bit too “black and white”. I just believe that for most athlete’s needs, a routine based around Intervals is the way to go. A higher level endurance athlete would need to take a different approach. Thanks for the compliment about my site. Please keep reading and commenting…I appreciate it! Nice job on the 1989 SAAB, by the way (saw it on your site).


That is a great routine for fast weight loss…just make sure that you don’t get burned out. Something like that can do wonders for 2-3 weeks, but maybe mix in 1-2 weeks of less volume…then get back to it. That crazy 8 circuit really is something isn’t it? Kills me every time!

Thanks for the comments!


Jason G June 11, 2009 at 7:21 pm


I did a little better than you and stayed on the Paleo diet for about two months. I think the Paleo is a good diet for weight loss because it forces people to eat meat (protein) and high amounts of vegetables (fiber). However the Paleo dieters who eat less meat and more vegetables will see greater weight loss results because the fiber will keep them full resulting in them eating less calories. That being said the Paleo diet is probably unnecessary for most people. I would recommend all health conscious people getting tested for gluten sensitivity. I restrict gluten foods because of possible long term consequences that might not show up on a test. Furthermore by restricting gluten I am restricting bakery goods and processed breads that are empty calories and this is a great step in maintaining a healthy weight. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a bakery with my girl friend and I noticed that no athletic people walked in (except me of course but I was not eating anything).

After reading numerous health books I came up with my own diet. It’s basically a diet based on eating like a Native American (I like diets with themes it makes it more fun!). I get my essential amino acids from wild salmon, sardines, quinoa (a great breakfast cereal replacement), egg white protein powder, and a serving of buffalo once a week. I get vegetable protein as well from sweet potatoes, beans, lentils and nuts (These foods also have fiber). I try to have green vegetables with every meal and fruit in between meals. I use foods with a medium high GI like quinoa, wild rice, and corn tortillas before the gym to give me a little more glycogen for the workout(I think Rusty’s method of working out with low amounts of glycogen is optimal for weight loss, but not necessarily muscle performance). Needless to say I don’t eat processed foods. In conclusion every person is going to be different but people should find ways so that they can eat healthy most of the time.

Limit red meat consumption because of heart disease and possibly cancer. Limit Omega 6 oils and processed foods because of
inflammation diseases. Limit dairy because of possible cancer and hormonal issues. Limit grains to avoid celiac disease and/or mild allergic reactions. Limit sugar so you don’t have insulin problems aka become a fat a**.

Jason G June 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm


I have not read fiber 35 yet. Nutritional books have become redundant to me. I have red ten or so of the best reviewed ones in the last six months. I will warn people that I am a laymen, but like Rusty I think I make the right conclusions. To answer your question fiber needs to be talked about on fitness blackbook because it allows people to get full on low calorie foods.

Yash June 11, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I like your point that even though studies show HIIT to be better than endurance work, endurance athletes should still use endurance training. They definitely come across certain obstacles like “the wall” in running a marathon that you can’t mimic with anything else. As for the rest of us, it really is a surprise that the vast majority don’t take advantage of this [HIIT vs steady-state] in the gym.

RockStar June 11, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Hey Rusty, speaking of interval training, what do you think of this workout from Men’s fitness which combines interval training with circuits for shredding bodyfat for the summer:

Josh June 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm

I have been following your site for about a year and this is my first comment. You have done a lot to bring common sense back into the training world. I think you really hit the nail on the head here. Ori Hoffmekler reccomends a somewhat similar strategy. What he says is 15 mins of HIIT followed by a brief strength training session (This could be deadlifts, clean+ presses, chin-ups, dips ect..) Of course you will not be as strong but I believe this would be a good strategy for those interested in maximal fat loss, conditioning for MMA, ect.. After the strength you do a post fatigue exercise which could be another 15 minutes of steady state or maybe a bodyweight circut (I like to do a descending set of burpees 20-1.)Do this 3x per week, not only will it will give you a great fat blasting workout but also a healthy does of mental toughness worthy of an ex-Israeli commando.

Norbi June 11, 2009 at 11:32 pm


great post again. πŸ™‚ It’s funny: when I started doing cardio, even right away I did a kind of a HIIT: 1 minute easy walking, 1 minute easy jogging, 1 minute medium running. Then when I heard about HIIT and its benefits, I was like hey, let’s mix them, so I did steady state cardio then followed it up with a HIIT session. A few days later I found your site and was happy to see that you are recommending almost the same thing, with the difference of doing HIIT first and then some steady state cardio. I wonder if this experience has anything to do with me being soo hooked on to your site? πŸ™‚


I personally use the threadmill for HIIT, but I read others recommending the exercise bike, because it’s less likely to cause injury and is easier to control its speed. I almost do what Rusty recommended you, it’s ‘officially’ 20 seconds sprinting at 11mph and then 60 seconds walking at 3mph, all this at an incline of 3; but as the threadmill takes its time to speed up and slow down, my intervals are almost 50 seconds long, so I think I can claim 30 seconds after all. πŸ™‚ As I don’t want to try to run a lot faster on the threadmill for safety reasons, whenever I feel I need more I just add more intervals – I’m currently doing 8 of them, which pretty much fits in nice in the 15 minute time range.

Dash June 12, 2009 at 1:41 am

Rusty, great post and even better site. I’ve gotten so much out of this site over the past couple of years. What’s great is the new posts can frequently motivate me to try something different which just by the nature of changing what becomes “routine” gives me a great boost. So thank you again for all of the work and please keep it up.

One thing that I believe may have been overlooked was the mental benefits of both types of exercise. I must admit that I get a better mental boost- improved mood, relaxed but with calm energy- from endurance runs (6 – 10 miles+). That said, I don’t get the same results. So I think your common theme about diversity and mixing it up is one of the most important things to remember.
Personally, I’m training for the NYC Marathon, and ran only one other marathon (Philly ’06) so I need to run long and slow (10min miles) to get back into long distance running shape.
I will take your advice this time around and work in some HIIT as I knew it would help my speed, but didn’t realize it would also help my endurance.

Thanks again!

Norbi June 12, 2009 at 2:14 am


I took a look at your link out of curiosity, I’m no expert so I can’t really say anything about the structure, although it does look good (as I understand changing your routine kind of keeps the body ‘guessing’ which is good, and other than that the outlined routine looks quite harsh πŸ™‚ ). But there are 2 things in it I just think are wrong:

– They recommend only a 2 minute warm up. I mean, I can only speak for myself, but even though I’m a young 23 year old guy, it takes more time for me to warm up.

– They say during the first cardio part you should keep your heart rate at 75% of your maximum rate, which you can calculate by subtracting your age from 220. I mean, does that mean that my 75% heart rate is supposed to be 197bpm?! That’s something I can not believe, that’s an extremely high number.

Norbi June 12, 2009 at 2:16 am

Oops, I misunderstood the text, so as for my last comment about the heart rate thing: “220 – your age” is supposed to be your MAX heart rate I guess. With that being said, even for MAX 197bpm seems way too high, compared to other recommendations.

Dave - The Intelligent Workout June 12, 2009 at 4:58 am

I’m excited for your post on walking. I’ve been reading about Bernarr Macfadden who seems to have been 100 years ahead of his fitness time and he used to walk 5-6 miles a day for great health. On a side note, your creative photo selection is excellent, especially when it involves a pale skinned brunette.

Denmark June 12, 2009 at 5:20 am

Hey Rusty,

I appreciate the reply.
Usually after the lifting session, I will do steady state cardio for another 15min.
Would you suggest dropping this and only doing HIIT afterwards? Perhaps doing the steady state cardio on off days?

To The Spaniard, I agree on your veiw of walking.
I moved to Denmark from the states when I was 10 and went crazy over how “everyday active” people are. Biking and walking everywhere. Although it is hard to walk anywhere in the states unless your in a city. I also want to mention how different the eating habbits are though. No wonder lots of americans (including myself) have to watch what we eat, the US is full of fast food and fat food.
I was staying out on long island late last year, R 25a has literally 15+ fastfood places lined up on a 5mile strech. It’s insane.

Good weekend everyone…

Michael June 12, 2009 at 5:57 am

thanks for the advice,one effective method of HIIT on a treadmill Is to start at 11km/h and go up by one km every 30 seconds until you are forced to stop,I find this more intense than the usual one minute sprinting,one minute walking.

Ramon June 12, 2009 at 8:51 am

Great post Rusty! And interesting comments as well. I find it funny how many people will talk about being an “athlete” and needing to train in specific ways. I think they miss the point of this website which, correct me if I’m wrong, is to help regular people achieve a certain look and feel better – not to become so-called athletes who run marathons. If that’s someone’s cup of tea they are welcome to it, but I enjoy reading FitnessBlackBook to learn how to achieve the Hollywood look efficiently and effectively without all the BS info that’s in the mainstream. Keep up the great work!

As an aside, I recently got a copy of Mark Sisson’s the Primal Blueprint. I really like the primal lifestyle it presents and it seems quite consistent with the philosophies behind FitnessBlackBook. I’d be interested to see you post a review of the book Rusty.

Bill June 12, 2009 at 11:13 am

Rusty, I love interval training. I wish I was not such a dork when I was younger and instead tried doing this instead of all the 12 sets per muscle group/2 minutes rest between sets crap that I was told worked but obviously just overtrained me

Thanks for the great articles

Irish June 12, 2009 at 11:44 am


What’s your opinion of the Adonis Effect? What’s the best way to accurately measure this?

Another great HIIT workout is one I learned in football and still use today. It really gets the abs shredded.

Warm up however you need to.

You need a track or a soccer/football field to perform this as well as a timer/stopwatch

Sprint 100 yards Rest for 30 seconds that’s one set (Do 4 to 6 sets depending on your conditioning)

After your 100 yard sprint sets package is done rest for two minutes

Sprint 60 yards and Rest for 25 seconds (4 to 6 total sets)

Rest for two minutes after the 60 yard sprint package is done

Sprint 40 yards Rest for 20 Seconds (4 to 6 sets)

Rest for two minutes after the 40 yard sprint package is complete

Sprint 30 yards rest for 15 seconds (4 to 6 reps)

DONE! Note: You have to really sprint (I mean do it like you’re trying to set the olympic record every time) While Rest means stand there and catch your breath don’t jog or do anything to keep your heart rate up

Work your way up to 12 sprints for every yardage package and you’re in damn good shape. This HIIT is great also because it gets you out of a gym and off a treadmill or piece of equipment. Do it twice a week and be ready for some soreness.

Jason G June 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

You guys should try the stair master for HIIT. I remember Rusty recommending it in the past. You will get better muscular definition in your legs and it is painfully wonderful.

Patrick June 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm

yeah rusty was right on with the hiit on the stepmill, when your done with 15 min of that hell, your legs will feel like jello. I don’t use the interval setting, I just manually hit the down arrow before i’m about to collapse to do the slow part. It takes much less time to do this as compared to the treadmill. I do level 18 in the 45-60 sec range and then drop it down to level 8 to try to catch my breath which is usually 30-45 sec. I previously thought the treadmill was the most brutal, but after reading rusty’s post, I learned that the stepmill is the cream of the crop for pure hell as far as hiit goes. The only other comparable, I think is to run sprints outside for your hiit, or suicide lines in the gym.

RockStar June 12, 2009 at 5:27 pm


I just did the workout today. It was intense and highly effective, I was sweating like a man man. As for your heart rate at 75% of max…you calculated incorrectly. If you are 23 years old, 75% of your max heart rate is about 148bpm. The number that you calculated is your absolute MAXIMUM, in other words 100% not 75%

Monica June 12, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Hi Denmark, if I remember correctly, Rusty suggests doing HIIT after the weights and if you like you can add another 15 min or so of low cardio/walking to burn a little extra fat.

Anthony June 13, 2009 at 4:04 am

Jason G, i really appreciate all the info man. this really helps. while i dont have a problem losing weight, i definitely try to watch what i eat. last night i ate like 8 milano cookies simply because i wanted them. while i didnt eat 1 bad thing, including milk, from last wednesday up until now, i just felt like i wanted to have them. i dont go into bakeries and such, but i’ve seen whole grain flax bread have so many ingredients and i always thought, how hard is it to make bread? i am definitely going to follow your advice, and i already eat quinoa. have you ever heard of farro? its another grain that i found out about on, which is an aggregation site that lists all awesome recipes curated from many different sites, every day.

do you think that i should never eat cereal? while i have been avoiding milk, i used almond milk with my cereal recently. i honestly try to eat as many of those good foods u listed as possible. i dont have a problem with weight, i just want to be as healthy as i can. i try to limit the processed foods, and i look at all the ingredients if i dont know them already. i also like to eat out sometimes, but i make sure to get some good stuff. your native american diet approach is really cool, and i appreciate you sharing all your ideas. also, how would one get tested for gluten sensitivity, and what is a good red meat subsitute for a meal, in terms of being the primary part of the entree, ie, instead of a t-bone steak? (vegetable or non-veg. i like to have as many options as i can.) also, what is your feel on pasta? i think gluten is in pasta as well, although ive been having some whole wheat pasta as of late (i am of italian descent)

hey Irish, thats a really, really good HIIT workout. im definitely going to use it. thanks for sharing. i used to do one similar to that on a track that i learned from HS track, but yours is pretty good.

Norbi June 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm


yes, I figured it out in the meantime. πŸ™‚


that HIIT is BRUTAL! πŸ™‚

admin June 13, 2009 at 4:47 pm


I still have people that look at me funny when I’m doing “interval type” work. I have had people ask questions while I’m doing it. It is tough to answer them because typically I’m catching my breath at the time.


Anything along those lines will work very well. Getting that heart rate jacked up works well in stripping off the body fat. I still like to mix in low volume strength training to make the muscle a bit harder and defined…but this will certainly get you lean.


I like to do the strength training first, but there could be a specific benefit of doing it after HIIT. You would train to be able to maintain strength even when out of breath. This is a good skill for a fighter or an athlete to have. The amount lifted wouldn’t be as much, but it could translate to better athletic performance, because it mimics what happens in some sports. Good call.


Glad you found my site. I really appreciate it that you take the time to comment on most of the posts. Keep up the great work!


Yeah…if someone is going to run a marathon they certainly need to include runs of longer distances. I’m sure the mental aspects of a longer run are much better than these short workouts. Some of these intervals or body weight circuits are tough!


I’m glad you like the photo. At some point I want to try to work up to an average of 1-3 miles of walking per day. I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet, but I think it is something to aim for.


I like a bit of steady state cardio done 1-2 times per week after HIIT. So do HIIT after lifting, and when you have a bit of extra energy…do steady state after the HIIT. This isn’t something to be done every workout. Typically I’ll add the steady state cardio if I feel like I’m “carb depleted” and had a great HIIT workout. I want my body to be in optimum fat burning mode, if I’m going to bother with steady state cardio. Hope that makes sense.


I’ve done a similar workout on a treadmill before. Kind of fun for a change of pace.


I need to take the time to read the Primal Blueprint. When I do, I will definitely review it. I love Mark’s message…plus he is ultra-fit and looks great. He is one of my role models for sure!


I have made every mistake in the book. The cool thing about the Internet is that we can mastermind together and help people avoid a lot of these same mistakes. I was a dork in the gym when I was younger as well. Thanks god I’ve seen the light!


I really like the Adonis Effect course. I’m actually reviewing Adonis Effect 2.0 before John Barban launches it. It is outstanding. John has a belief on muscle gain that is unlike anything I have ever read. I may have him do a guest post on this HUGE paradigm shift. Stay tuned. Your football sprinting workout sounds awesome! I need to meet a friend at the track so I don’t cheat and rest too long. I have a feeling this is going to be tough!

Jason G,

The traditional stairmaster can be tough, but what I recommend is the Step-mill…the one with the actual physical steps that rotate like a mini-escalator. It is the toughest piece of cardio equipment in the gym.


My thoughts exactly (read the comment right above this)!


Yep…that is what I would recommend most of the time as your body will be primed to get the most out of steady state cardio at that time.


Rena June 13, 2009 at 8:54 pm

You are right on the mark about HIIT. I first learned about this idea on the Body for Life program. It is known that regular cardio will jack your metabolism for an hour after, but HIIT can boost the rate for 24 hours after. So many people don’t know this– GREAT job on your post!

tim June 13, 2009 at 10:03 pm

hey rusty been following your site for a couple years now. I just landed a modeling job and i am going for poloroids next couple weeks I was wondering if there was anything diet wise or workout that i could do to get that extra look i am all ready pretty lean anything be great

M0L June 14, 2009 at 1:59 am

about the tighs…will they get bigger doing the crazy 8 or jumping rope?…im worried about not fitting my pants…and i want to slim them down a lot..what do you recommend to loose size on my legs and trim inner tighs?

PS..just saw never back down..looove the physique..(they have some tyler durdem going on) on the other side…the plot was like a lame remake of karate kid..lolz.. xD

Jason G June 14, 2009 at 2:28 am


Sorry the company named stair master makes step mills. I just misspoke.

kristin June 14, 2009 at 12:14 pm


i love this article! i first discovered HIIT about 1.5 years ago. But i have a question for you —- when i first did hitt i got really, really lean (hellllloooo abs!) within a matter of weeks. i mean… the flab on my tummy and thighs just melted right off. then my life got very stressful and my clean diet went out the window. i re-gained the flab.

now i’ve been doing HIIT for months but then flab won’t budge!! i lost some fat, but not NEARLY as much as i lost when i first started HIIT. everything else is the same (clean diet now, strength training, etc.). so my question is… what gives?? why is HIIT not working for me this time around? do you suppose my body is conditioned to HIIT so it’s performing more effectively and not needing to burn as much fat as it did the first time around?

btw, when i do HIIT i do:
5-10 mins warm up

30s sprint at 5:30m/hour pace
60s jog at 12m/hour pace
(do this about 10x.. for total of 15mins)

5 mins cool down

then if time: 10-20 mins of slow cardio

myra June 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Hi Rusty
where did you get that picture? Only she looks a bit like me!!
I actually learnt about HIIT from your site when you did a post on it about 10 months ago, so Ive been doing it for some time and the weight dropped off my fitness levels increased and it takes the boredom out of it by alternating the speeds. Like you i combine HIIT with steady cardio afterwards. Ive reached my target, if i lose any more i could lose the muscle so im just maintaining it now. I never see anyone else doing HITT which is strange, but my pet hate is seeing people walking for ages on the treadmill!!

Jason the Chinese Guy June 16, 2009 at 2:01 am

hey I was wondering if the elliptical would work well for loosing muscle and fat too. It burns alot of calories even though it’s alot easier than running, that is if the number shown on the machine is correct.

I been following your website for more than a year now, and I’ve been doing stubborn fat protocol for half a year. Usually i just do treadmills with intervals warm up with 4.5, then 10, 5, 10.5, 5, 11, 5, 11, 5. After that comes the 5 minutes of resting. Then I hop on the treadmill to do 6~8 mph for 25~40mins. Alotta times I get cramps or somewhere near my left oblique hurts, so I go on the ellipticals instead. My gym offers life fitness elliptical machines but they also have the cybex arc trainer in the link below

Do you think it would do me any good going on this one? or do you think i should just go on the life fitness ones.

Oh and also I am taking caffeine 30 mins before start lifting, or should i follow the SFP exactly and take it during my weight resistance training timing it 30 mins before I start my SFP.

Do you think it’s too much cardio if I play basketball and go swimming after lifting and Stubborn Fat Protocol?

For your info to answer my questions easier.. I am also following Eat Stop Eat(yes, i bought the book), and my weight resistance training is a 2 day split with almost everything 3 slow/controlled reps per set like you recommended(some exercises like weighted dips, wide grip chin-ups, and standing barbell military press I do 5 reps). I am almost 5″8 and weight around 155 pound. I’d say I am around 7% body fat right now, aiming for 5 or 6.

Sorry I have so many questions.. they just kept coming up when I am typing. It’d be great if you can answer all of them. This site is just amazing. The info here are so educational. I almost read all your articles. Thank you rusty!

Jason the Chinese Guy June 16, 2009 at 2:03 am

hey I was wondering if the elliptical would work well for loosing muscle and fat too. It burns alot of calories even though it’s alot easier than running, that is if the number shown on the machine is correct.

I been following your website for more than a year now, and I’ve been doing stubborn fat protocol for half a year. Usually i just do treadmills with intervals warm up with 4.5, then 10, 5, 10.5, 5, 11, 5, 11, 5. After that comes the 5 minutes of resting. Then I hop on the treadmill to do 6~8 mph for 25~40mins. Alotta times I get cramps or somewhere near my left oblique hurts, so I go on the ellipticals instead. My gym offers life fitness elliptical machines but they also have the cybex arc trainer in the link below

Do you think it would do me any good going on this one? or do you think i should just go on the life fitness ones.

Jason the Chinese Guy June 16, 2009 at 2:03 am

Oh and also I am taking caffeine 30 mins before start lifting, or should i follow the SFP exactly and take it during my weight resistance training timing it 30 mins before I start my SFP.

Do you think it’s too much cardio if I play basketball and go swimming after lifting and Stubborn Fat Protocol?

For your info to answer my questions easier.. I am also following Eat Stop Eat(yes, i bought the book), and my weight resistance training is a 2 day split with almost everything 3 slow/controlled reps per set like you recommended(some exercises like weighted dips, wide grip chin-ups, and standing barbell military press I do 5 reps). I am almost 5″8 and weight around 155 pound. I’d say I am around 7% body fat right now, aiming for 5 or 6.

Sorry I have so many questions.. they just kept coming up when I am typing. It’d be great if you can answer all of them. This site is just amazing. The info here are so educational. I almost read all your articles. Thank you rusty!

kristin June 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm


please, please, please let me know what you think about my question. the one about one’s body adapting to HIIT. i do understand that you can change up the speed, incline, durationg etc. of your workout… but i also read that 30/60 is a great ratio and increasing the incline builds bulky legs (something i do not want!).

thanks! looking forward to hearing from you πŸ˜‰

Jason the Chinese Guy June 19, 2009 at 4:14 am

sorry for double posting up there. At first when I posted it up, it didn’t show up for some reason, it just shows a line of white space. So I figured it was too long, and I split the post in two for it to work. Later on I checked this page and the first post somehow worked.

Anyways, I missed one of the interval for my HIIT routine up there. It should be “Usually i just do treadmills with intervals warm up with 4.5, then 10, 5, 10.5, 5, 11, 5, 11, 5, 11.”

And the question about the elliptical machines, there’s also Precor elliptical machines at my gym. Are those ones better for fat loss?

It’d be great if you can answer my questions. Thanks Rusty!

Kenny June 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Hey Rusty I was wondering… I am really getting serious about being lean, I follow your weightlifting 2 day split routine and was wondering is it okay to do about 25 minutes of HIIT on a Upright stationary bike instead of on a treadmill after im done lifting. Thanks let me know

admin July 18, 2009 at 7:33 pm


Your thighs won’t get bigger at all from jumping rope. You should be fine with Crazy 8 Body Weight Circuit as well.


You should experiment with the time ratios. Why don’t you try 60 seconds of fast with 60 seconds of slow. Also…try incorporating body weight circuits.


I pay for my photos…that is why they look so sharp. It adds expense to running this blog, but I think it pays off. I am actually shocked that such a small percentage of people do HIIT. It works so well.

Jason the Chinese Guy,

I really like the elliptical after HIIT. If you want to lose fat it works very well, but probably isn’t harsh enough to be able to do marathon cardio (to lose muscle mass on pupose). I feel the fast jogging that you are doing is the best way to lighten up and lose both fat and muscle (this is why boxers do “road work” and jog a lot when trying to make weight). What you are doing will work well…just don’t do it long term. Get to the point where you are lean and slim, then drop that marathon cardio. Also…I think both ellipticals will work equally as well. I like to use the ellipticals without arm movement (I like the Precor model)…just resting my arms on stationary handles. As far as caffeine goes…I would take it before lifting. Your resistance training actually primes the body for fat buring as well, releases HGH, etc…in a way it works some of the same systems as your HIIT…so take your caffeine before lifting. You sound like you are doing the perfect routine to hit your goals. If you do decide to play basketball or swimming, then limit your HIIT to 10 minutes (8 total intervals)…don’t go as hard and see if you can fit it in before basketball or swimming for maximum fat burning effect.


Yep…I’ve found the upright stationary bikes work extremely well for HIIT. I use those from time to time and experience a serious HGH Flush in about 15 minutes. You probably don’t need to go for 25 minutes…but if you don’t feel exhausted or totally burnt out, then give it a shot for 25 minutes.



Markham December 18, 2009 at 8:40 pm

So as a former track athlete intervals are nothing new to me, as I spent 10+ years of my life doing them on a regular basis as part of my regular training.

HOWEVER, I think there is still some confusion around the topic.

Quick story:

Back in the day we sprinters basically did what a lot of people would call HIIT practically every day, constant sprinting at high speeds, short rest periods and going again.

Were we all super lean, in great shape and able to run with the competition?


Did it increase our cardiovascular endurance?


Every now and then coach would make us do some distance work with the distance people, especially in the fall, we had one workout a week with the cross-country team.

Well, the girl’s cross country team

It was a hill workout, we’d sprint about 100M up a bill and jog down. In the beginning we’d beat the girls with our superior speed, but they never slowed down, in fact it was their EASY day so they would eventually run by us and laugh.

No seriously, they laughed at us.

Simply put: sprinters are doing intervals every day and don’t have the endurance to keep up with their distance running teammates. In fact even athletes who say run cross-country in the fall or come from an endurance background, who do sprints in track find themselves less fit cardio wise after doing sprint workouts.

So why the results in the studies?

Simple: the people doing steady state cardio at your local gym are going at “lazy speeds”, they’re going at an easy pace they feel comfortable maintaining, and they’re not pushing themselves on a regular basis. I.e. they don’t train like endurance athletes AT ALL.

SO when they do intervals they’re actually pushing themselves, so they get better results than the do from their lazy workouts.

The exercise isn’t the problem, it’s the 1/2-ass approach.

They’re not building cardio capacity as they don’t push themselves, unlike an endurance athlete who is pushing for personal bests at various distances, pushing themselves against teammates/training partners, etc.

No endurance athlete trains in that nonsensical 60-70% of max effort fat burning zone that someone came up, nor do they use machines in a gym. No, they’re outside running, in a pool, riding a real bike, etc.

It’s not comparable.

Trust me, give me 10 athletes that I train the traditional way for a 5k and have someone else train 10 athletes with HIIT and my guys will wipe the floor with them.

Ask anyone in the track, swimming or cycling worlds and they’ll agree.

This is not to say intervals aren’t of value to endurance athletes, they use them too, just differently. When I ran (and coached) the distance guys would run several miles, than do track work and then run some more. The track work developed their speed and ability to kick, whilst the endurance work developed, well, endurance.


Jordan January 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Hey Rusty, I’m new on this website, I love it !
I need to build MASSIVE levels of endurance in the next month or so,
I need to run a mile in about 4.5 or 5 minutes,
and i’m not such a good runner.
what’s the best possible thing I can do?

Candace February 25, 2010 at 5:04 pm

There are several studies that show interval training is a benefit for endurance athletes, going all the way back to the early 1990s. New research just supports those earlier results.

AR March 21, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Hey Rusty, do you absolutely have to eat after doing some HIIT cardio? For some reason, doing that makes me really sleepy.

dp April 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I wanted to let you know that there are several home dvds on the market that incorporate HIIT training which I think are excellent for both men and women.

1st: Insanity ( – 60 day program that has a calendar for working out 6 days a week. This is intense

2nd: Cathe STS training set#3 has a series of plyo legs (4 total) that incorporate plyo and weight lifting – I love this series. (

3rd: Cathe HIIT training (3 training sessions) (

4th: Jilllian Michaels: Banish fat boost metabolism and 30 day shred.

I hope this helps because all of these workouts will kick your butt and will be a wonderful addition to this program. I am just getting started with the eating part of this which is where I needed help.

machete July 19, 2010 at 4:41 am

I was wondering if there was anything diet wise or workout that i could do to get that extra look i am all ready pretty lean anything be great

Mike @ Papa Star Health January 4, 2011 at 2:14 am

The Tabata protocol is a burner for sure! it really builds up the lactic acid and you can tell it works…

jt February 12, 2011 at 12:53 am

If you can do cardio at the end of your HIIT, you’re not doing HIIT hard enough! In the study, they pushed the intensity up by a very special protocol to EXTREMELY high levels. By the 4th 30-second interval, you should be FATIGUED to the point of not being able to do any more!
I don’t think you’re REALLY doing HIT per the study you reference! Same goes with Tabata–there’s a LOT of misunderstanding out there. It actually takes a seasoned athlete to be able to work thru the pain you SHOULD feel in a real HIT workout.

Raw Food Guys March 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Very awesome article. I do both explosive exercises and regular cardio. But when I combine a 100% raw food mostly vegan diet the results are Out OF This World :0) Highly recommended

Raw Food Guys

WHM May 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I’ve been walking about 3 miles/day for for over 25 years, eat basically a Mediterranean diet for about 15 years. My weight has stayed within 5 lbs of what it was 25 years ago (150 lbs) when I was in my mid 20s. I’ve recently begun hiit 3 x weekly by sprinting hills in my walk routine. Actually feel more energized at the end of these sessions than before. I’m guessing added endorphins give this effect.

Andreas Schumacher June 6, 2011 at 5:29 am

Excellent article ! I love to swim, incorporate intervall training in the pool, amazing results πŸ™‚



john adler June 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Very interesting article. Interval training is not only a fun way to lose weight, but also a quick way. When you burn fat both during as well as after your workout, as with interval training, your workouts are more effective.

Emma Grimes June 15, 2011 at 5:44 pm

A very interesting read. I always believed in this theory that varying your training is key,,, after all you don’t want your body getting use to the one thing, Great read, thanks for posting it.

Ab Exer June 19, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I like your website, Also knowing your Ab Exer workouts, will help you know the right amount exercise to perform. The Crunches and Sit ups are the popular ab exercise. They give the abs a good workout and they do not put any strain on the back.

Cardio to get abs July 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Interval training is my favorite workout especially after a cheat meal :)) Great results in minutes.

Marcus Ramot August 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I believe not only is Exercise important but you should have a very balanced diet if you want those rock hard abs.

A-TEAM Playground Workout August 25, 2011 at 8:26 am

She is beautiful!

SexyvWeight August 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Trekking is my favorite form of endurance training exercise. Of course this should be coupled with good diets

otaoec December 13, 2011 at 12:22 am

I believe not only is Exercise important but you should have a very balanced diet if you want those rock hard abs.

Online Dating Free Sites February 17, 2012 at 11:27 am

I believe not only is Exercise important but you should have a very balanced diet if you want those rock hard abs.

Free Dating Online February 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

Very interesting article. Interval training is not only a fun way to lose weight, but also a quick way. When you burn fat both during as well as after your workout, as with interval training, your workouts are more effective.

Molly September 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hi, im 13, girl and i really like your article! Just a question:
Right now i have started exercising, and yes i will include HIIT into my exercise..Just, im wondering: I already have cellulite on my thighs, so if i do HIIT will i lose my cellulite and get slim thighs?

And also, how long does it take to see the smallest difference, by that i mean your belly shrinking? Thanks!

Ann May 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

Nice read. I’m a fan of HIIT. So much more fun than trudging away on a stair climber or bike for an hour!

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