INSHAPE NEWS OPINION – Interval Training Vs Steady State Cardio
Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer
Cardio training is a great way to lose body fat and keep your heart healthy. But, which is better, interval training or steady state?
Interval training can manipulate intensity levels a lot easier compared to steady state training. The intervals allow you to rest more between efforts so that during the next bout you can perform harder. Therefore, if your heart rate sits higher, you will increase (EPOC) excess post-exercise consumption, and consequently improve your ability to metabolize nutrients; this process can last from several hours up to 2 days.
Also, interval training works on improving your fast twitch fibres to improve strength, power, and is a great way to work at a very high heart rate. This type of training is the foundation of most elite athletes for this reason. The benefits of this are immense not just from a physical point of view, but also in the practicality of fitting in training. A great session may only last 20-minutes so it is easy to fit it into a schedule where you just do not have much time.
Interval training also works on improving your fast twitch fibres to improve strength, power, and is a great way to work at a very high heart rate. This type of training is the foundation of training for most elite athletes for this reason. The benefits of this are immense not just from a physical point of view, but also in the practicality of fitting in training. A great session may only last 20 minutes so it is easy to fit it into a schedule where you just do not have much time.
The benefits of interval training are immense not just from a physical point of view, but also in the practicality of fitting in training. A great session may only last 20 minutes so it is easy to fit it into a schedule where you just do not have much time.
Steady State Training
Steady state training reduces the intensity or how hard you perform but does increase the length of time you train greatly improving your endurance. This has the benefit of burning more calories than interval training; however, this can take up some time.
Burning more calories sounds more beneficial, but it doesn’t necessarily increase your metabolism during rest as much as interval training. Steady state training has the possibility to slow down your metabolism. In saying that, to be able to run a long distance, steady-state training is essential in building a base to work from and works on slow twitch muscle fibres needed to develop your endurance.
In my years as a competitive distance runner, we called this type of training “junk miles” as they achieved nothing but improve endurance. A necessary part of training, but did very little to improving performance.
Interval & Steady State Training Compared
As we’ve already discussed if your goal is to really get fit the next step is to add interval training to help improve your performance. In addition, this form of training allows you to train at a higher heart rate. Plus, it adds the fast twitch muscle fibres to your workout making you faster, more efficient and stronger. And oh yes, lose weight!
In regards to designing a great interval training program and determining what intervals are right for you we use a simple method called DIRT, which stands for:
- D = Distance of each fast run or cycle etc
- I = Interval, or length of recovery between fast bursts
- R = Repetitions. How many fast intervals you complete in one session.
- T = Time recorded for each interval.
Try to pick the right type of training for your goal. For example, if you just want to lose weight then 20 secs fast with 10 secs slow for 10-15 mins is great. The speeds you do are completely irrelevant as it is more about your exertion. However, if you are preparing for a 10km running race then you will need to do more longer distances such as 800m to 1200m intervals.
Although, it’s important to remember that when you’re starting any interval program try not to do too many reps. Start with 3-4 reps and build up over the coming weeks as you get better.
In summary, for losing fat and for aerobic performance, interval training is the better option. As mentioned earlier it increases EPOC, works your heart rate higher, is time efficient, works the additional fast twitch muscle fibres, and increases metabolism at rest.
Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called NO Regrets Personal Training.
Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.
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Disclaimer: The information published in this column is based on the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion don’t substitute professional medical advice or treatment. Therefore, always seek the advice of a doctor or health provider with any medical questions. Also, visit a doctor before beginning any nutritional or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.