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Friday, 29 February 2008

Slightly more on Interval Vs Duration training

I had a few people say how I was ‘against’ interval style training, & I ‘only believed’ in duration style cardio to burn fat. Nothing is further from the truth!
Right I’ll give you some facts about duration training Vs interval style training; also some stuff about strength training Vs aerobic training for fat loss. Then to get a fuller picture we’ll look at the ‘why’s & wherefores’ they may have the results they got & other factors we need to consider.

First off aerobic style training Vs interval training.

There are several studies that show that interval training is equal to or (in some ways) superior to continuous duration aerobic training
J Sci Med Sport. 2007 Jun 19 [Epub ahead of print] Links
The effects of interval-exercise duration and intensity on oxygen consumption during treadmill running.O'brien BJ, Wibskov J, Knez WL, Paton CD, Harvey JT.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2007 Oct;101(3):377-83. Epub 2007 Jul 28. Links
Improvement of VO2max by cardiac output and oxygen extraction adaptation during intermittent versus continuous endurance training.Daussin FN, Ponsot E, Dufour SP, Lonsdorfer-Wolf E, Doutreleau S, Geny B, Piquard F, Richard R.
CHRU of Strasbourg, Physiology and Functional Explorations Department, Civil Hospital, BP 426, 67091, Strasbourg, France.

& other studies that show strength training Vs aerobics where strength training appears superior to aerobics:

Geliebter A, Mahler MM, Gerace L, Gutin B, Heymsfield SB, Hashim SA.
Effects of strength or aerobics training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects
Am J clinical nutr. 1997 Sept;66(3):557-63
bryner RW, Ullrich IH, Sauers J, Donley D, Hornsby G, Kolar M, yeater R.
Effects of resistance Vs aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate.
J Am Coll nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21

Aerobic group: 4 hours per week
resistance training group: 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps. 10 exercises, three time a week

Now, as interval training can be seen as a form of anaerobic exercise would it not appear that interval training is the best way to go in terms of time usage & results?
Well again, it’s not quite so simple. When we’re building a complete training package, we have to cover many factors. One of the most obvious being if we weight train (an anaerobic activity) how will that impact upon recovery if we also include other anaerobic activity (such as interval sprints). The second is every type of training has a specific effect, so interval training increases blood flow to, & from, the skeletal muscle & encourages waste product removal, while longer duration training encourages capillary growth & mitochondria proliferation, also fat storage within the muscle (as fuel-this is not noticeable surface fat, but held deep within the muscle cells near to the mitochondria for quick utilisation) & other physiological factors that can improve health.
If you’re doing a heavy workout program with weights (say 3 or more times a week) & also doing hard interval cardio (3 or more times a week), you are, in effect, doubling the amount of anaerobic recovery you need to do, this could be too much for some athletes. Also you may be missing out on some benefits you get from longer duration aerobic training. Longer duration – lower intensity exercise can be seen as ‘active recovery’ & so actually aid the body heal & repair from intense workouts with weights.
We also have some training 'gurus' out there now touting the idea that duration style aerobic activity doesn't aid in fat loss (or indeed benefit you at all). Anyone who’s spent any time within the bodybuilding scene knows this simply is not true, at least for a trained individual. It may be, that getting from high levels of fat to moderate levels may be more efficient using interval alone, verses aerobics alone, but I’m not sure there has even been studies of weight training, plus interval & ancillary training Vs weight training, plus aerobic & ancillary training, but that is the system that appears to work for most bodybuilders (whose primary goal is holding on to maximum muscle mass, while cutting maximum body fat). My observation has been that combinations of training approaches is superior to either all aerobic or all anaerobic & stating that aerobics is inferior is incorrect. It functions differently to interval style training & may not cause the same increase in EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), but has many advantageous benefits that should not be overlooked in the rush to embrace interval training as ‘the answer’ to cardiovascular health & fat loss.

So, as you can see program design needs a little thought to avoid overdoing any one style of training & impeding recovery.
Next time we’ll look at the options for building a program using weights, interval & duration training. We’ll also follow on by looking at flexibility & mobility, their differences & how we can include those into our training in later posts.

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