I Hate Running
Do you hate doing Cardio? I sure do. One, it’s hard. Two, it’s extremely repetitive. Three, it seems to last forever. At least, that’s the kind of Cardio I’m used to. There has to be a better way to burn fat, right? Great news! There is.
What Makes Interval Training Better?
For fat loss, nothing really beats Interval Training (except diet, but that’s a different post entirely). It works by combining short periods of high intensity motion with rest periods in between. This keeps your heart rate consistently high over the course of your workout without either burning you out or allowing you to fall into a slower pace. This is great for a few different reasons.
- Unlike typical Cardio (distance running, swimming, etc), it builds muscle very quickly.
- The calorie deficit is much higher
- It’s easier to do as a beginner
- It doesn’t take as long
Let’s address that first point. You can build muscle by running and swimming. However, you won’t build it as quickly as you do when you train with very high intensity. When running or swimming it’s crucial that you pace yourself to limit your need for oxygen and rest by lowering your intensity to an even level. Knowing how to do that is very useful. However, raising the intensity to your full capacity in short intervals puts more strain on both your cardiovascular system and your muscles in a much shorter amount of time. Studies show that nearly 30 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) three times per week produces the equivalent results of an hour of running or swimming five times per week.
Think about that. Imagine running for an hour. Awful, right? You’d have to do that five times a week to get the equivalent improvement of less than 90 minutes of HIIT. Also, during that 90 minutes, you even get breaks! Ridiculous!
As for the second point, it may seem unintuitive, but I’ll explain. Anyone who’s ever calculated calories while running, swimming, or using an elliptical machine can tell you that the numbers are pretty discouraging. With the traditional, steady cardio exercises, you’re really working on burning calories during the exercise. With HIIT, it’s all about the afterburn. Much like Resistance Training, HIIT causes more strain on your muscles, which means you have more to repair after the workout is over, burning more calories.
Starting HIIT is good for beginners, because a beginner’s version of high intensity and a veteran’s are wildly different. You can do your best in HIIT, and as long as you’re careful to avoid injury, you’re off to the races.
The last point is my favorite. To me, there’s nothing more boring than running when I’ve just passed the first mile marker, knowing I have another one to run. Even back when I was running a 5 minute mile (waaaaay back in high-school), it still bored me to tears. I think this is in part because part of running on a track or a path you’ve run before is learning to tune-out the experience, so you don’t think about how tired you are. You don’t get to do that with HIIT. It’s all or nothing, over and over. You MUST pay attention.
At the moment, I am focusing on fat loss. An Australian Study concluded that, of the HIIT routines tested, an 8-second-sprint/12-second-rest cycle at a length of 20 minutes on a stationary bike had the best results. I’m skeptical of the difference in fat loss between this and other interval training methods, such as the Couch 2 5k or Tabata. However, since I’m home with an infant during the day, now seems like the most reasonable time to try it out.
I got a used stationary bike, gussied it up a bit, and now I’m spinning with the worst of ’em. This training really kicks my ass. At the time of this article, I’ve only been able to get through 11 of the 20 minutes without stopping, and my quadriceps feel like boulders in texture and weight. It’s going well, though. When I first started two weeks ago, 5 minutes was my limit.
Alright, a large amount of you asked about the inclusion of FORUMS. It took a while, but I managed to put forums on this site. They’re not just fully-functional. They’re ugly, as well!
Heh,well, anyways, please make use of them. From what I’ve seen from your private suggestions, this game we’re making will really bloom once your ideas are involved. I’m looking forward to reading them.