As mentioned in Part 1, interval training hurts. It’s difficult and you have to be willing to push to make them effective. Put differently, if someone is not going to work sufficiently hard at interval training, then there’s really no question about intervals versus aerobics. A half-effort interval workout doesn’t accomplish any of the things that interval training is trying to accomplish; if you aren’t willing to push yourself on the intervals, you should simply do regular aerobic training.
In recent years, there has been quite the over-popularization of the concept of interval training, along with a rather major backlash against traditional forms of aerobic training, for fat loss. It’s not uncommon to read how low intensity aerobics is useless for fat loss, everybody should just do intervals, regular aerobics makes you lose muscle, etc.
“Most of them tell people to do the intervals after the weights, so what kind of energy to they have left to do any hard intervals? Not much. But, if they said to do 30 minutes of cardio, how slow would they pedal? Pretty damn slow.I’m torn between thinking that they (the trainers) are outright wrong, and thinking that they know you’re right, and just choose to allow the trainee to believe that this is the best way because it drives them to work harder.
Over the past month of articles, I’ve been talking about the current fascination with interval training (for either fat loss or performance) with the main focus being on what I see as a myopic ‘intervals are always superior’ mentality (usually based on poor arguments).
In Steady State vs. interval training: Summing up Part 1, I started to put together some of the information I’m blogging about by making a point about the types of problems I’m seeing in practice with the pro-interval myopia. Simply: given that a majority of trainees train more frequently than 3X/week, once they have been convinced that intervals are the only way to train, problems start. They end up trying to do intervals at every session, in addition to a heavy weight training load for the legs and they blow up.
There is also the issue of how intervals integrate with training when OTHER TYPES OF TRAINING (e.g. weight training) are being done. That is, what happens if someone is training their legs heavily in the weight room twice/week. How realistic is it to then add high intensity interval training to that workload?
It’s long been felt or argued that the only way to reach the pinnacle of endurance performance is through years of grinding effort, usually involving absolute piles of low-intensity training. To a great degree, outside of the occasional period when programs based around intensification have become popular, this has been the basic approach to endurance training.
One of the common arguments against steady state cardio is something akin to ‘Steady state is useless because you become more efficient at it and burn less calories doing it.’
I’ve already addressed part of why this argument is stupid but want to go into a bit more detail.
In Steady State vs. Intervals: Explaining the Disconnect Part 1, I started to examine some other physiological explanations (outside of EPOC) to potentially explain the seeming disconnect between the total irrelevancy of EPOC and both the research and real-world fat loss results from interval training. I’m going to continue and conclude that discussion today by looking at some other mechanisms by which interval training may be affecting fat loss in both research and the real world.
With any realistic amount of intervals, not only does the total calorie burn of the workout itself pale compared to longer moderate intensity steady state sessions, the EPOC simply doesn’t amount to anything. Certainly not enough to explain the rather rabid and myopic recommendation of that form of training.