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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.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Interval Vs duration cardio-Is it so obvious?

Recently there has been a growth in interval cardio, with statements like “It melts fat”, “Just look at sprinters, compared to distance runners”. These have encouraged many people to move away from traditional cardio & to try out HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) protocols in the hope of burning fat more quickly & in less time.
First I’d like to say I’m not saying that HIIT style training won’t burn fat, it’s just some of the observations used to reach those conclusions are, when you think about it, obviously faulty.
Let’s start with the usual statement “Just look at sprinters, compared to distance runners”. When you look at runners, yes sprinters look ‘jacked’, while the distance people looked thin, but why is that? First of all think about what you need to be a sprinter, & what you need to be a distance runner.

A sprinter: High power to weight ratio. This means that they need to generate a huge amount of power quickly, while carrying as little weight as possible. This means ectomorphs (the naturally thin) won’t have enough muscle to generate enough power, & endomorphs (naturally fatter) will be carrying too much weight, so the successful sprinter will naturally tend to be a mesomorph (naturally fairly low in fat, but with good muscular development), so we have a naturally strong, low fat looking person tending towards being the most successful in the sport of sprinting.

A Distance runner: Low weight is the priority here. Power is a secondary concern; you need to carry as little as you can, so your energy can be saved. You just need enough muscle to keep a steady pumping of the legs, anything else is wasted muscle & just extra weight to drag around the course. Here the ectomorph has an advantage over both the endomorph & mesomorph. So, naturally they would have a thinner build than a sprinter.

“But,” you’ll say “sprinters upper bodies are great too! All big & pretty well defined”. Yes & why is that? Because they do weights! & as mesomorphs muscle comes easily without too much fat, so in no time they get that ‘jacked’ look. If an ectomorph did exactly the same, would the results be the same? I doubt it, they’d need a different dietary & training routine to achieve a similar look (or as near as they could get).

Don’t believe me, well here’s a couple of pictures of guys doing 100 yard dash from the early 20th century, when they thought weight training would slow them down, these guys still ran what would be considered pretty fast times, but note the lack of upper body development compared to today’s sprint athletes. The added muscle mass of today’s athletes allows greater acceleration & top speeds, so outweighs the added mass they carry.

It may well be that HIIT will work for you as a fat burning tool, infact I do recommend that both interval & duration cardio are worked regularly, so you cover all the bases in your training. But, bear in mind a lot of what is said about HIIT is actually hype & if duration is your preference, then you will get results (as has been shown by gyms all over the world), HIIT is just another tool in your training box, not ‘the answer’ to your fat burning, cardio health goals.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

I think he was pretending to be an iron head :-)

I shouldn't have to say this, but being an iron head is a 'term', not a fact! - Watch more free videos

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Individual form

Suppose you had the best squatter in the world turned up at your gym. Suppose you could imitate exactly his form & little techniques. Do you suppose it would make you the best squatter you could be by doing that...well no it wouldn’t, unless you had the same tendon attachments, skeletal structure, and muscular strengths that guy had. It’s likely you’ll have to lift slightly different to everyone else (even Mr Perfect squat!).
There is no such thing as textbook perfect form, there is perfect form FOR YOU, but that could be very different to the way others do it. When training you must learn ‘body awareness’, never do something that feels wrong or causes pain, even if it’s a picture perfect rep, just because the movement is perfect doesn’t mean it’s perfect for you. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t try & incorporate tips & techniques from others, as that’s how you learn, but introduce them intelligently. Start light & if it feels wrong, then drop it & find another way, or another exercise that does a similar job. There are 1001 ways to reach your goal & your best way is unique, so go & begin the search for the perfect way for you to reach your goals.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Robbie Hazeley's new blog

Yet another VBB blog to appear is Robbie's new Battlezone training blog.
For his those lucky enough to have got his old B/Z emails, this will follow a similar format, with pictures, training, bits about diet & related stuff.
Go check it out at robbie hazeley's battlezone training