High Intensity Interval Training vs. Steady State Cardio

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High intensity interval training is a superior method for fat loss than steady lower intensity steady state training. The reasoning behind this is two fold; high intensity interval training is more time effective method of expending energy and is also more efficient at fat burning based on energy expenditure.

When comparing energy expenditure the proficiency of high intensity intervals far exceeds that of steady state cardio. A 20 year old, 180-pound male performing moderate intensity exercise (approximately sixty-five percent of maximum heart rate, 130 beats per minute) consumes approximately seven and a half calories per minute. In contrast that same male performing high intensity intervals with an average of approximately ninety percent of maximum heart rate or 180 beats per minute (assuming maximum effort during the work phase with equal rest) is thirteen calories per minute. This caloric intake will increase about a calorie per minute for every five percent increase in heart rate for the duration of either activity. For this comparison, high intensity intervals expend seventy percent more calories per minute. Therefore you would have to perform steady state exercise for fifty-one minutes to get the same caloric expenditure as thirty minutes of high intensity intervals.

This is not even taking into account the post-exercise raise in metabolic rate. Studies have estimated that the post-exercise oxygen consumption (and therefore amount of energy used) is twice as elevated after high intensity interval training as steady state cardio. High intensity interval training will consume more than twice the amount of calories during the activity and approximately twice the amount of calories for many hours after the activity when compared to steady state aerobic training.

Another difference between these two types of training is the efficiency of burning subcutaneous fat of high intensity exercise. A study found that, when corrected for energy cost (meaning the same amount of energy was expended), individuals who performed high intensity interval training lost nine times the subcutaneous fat as those who performed steady state aerobic activity (Tremblay et al, 1994). The exact reason for this phenomenon is unknown, but it is assumed that the increased metabolic rate post exercise plays a part and possibly an increase in fat metabolism enzymes.

Tremblay, A., Sioneay, J.A. and C. Bouchard. Impact of exercise intensity on body
fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994. July, 43 (7), 814-
818.

Equations to estimate caloric expenditure:
Males: Calories = [(0.2017 x Age) + (0.6309 x Heart Rate) — (0.09036 x Weight in pounds) – 55.0969] x Time / 4.184
Females: Calories = [(0.074 x Age) + (0.4472 x Heart Rate) — (0.05741 x Weight) — 20.4022] x Time / 4.184

Beginners High Intensity Intervals

For extremely unfit individuals, steady state or lower intensity interval aerobic exercise may actually be more beneficial due to their specific circumstances. The stimulus from aerobic exercise may be more than enough to promote weight loss and they may need the work capacity improvements to even be able to handle high intensity training. For obese individuals, this training should be as non-weight bearing as possible.

Progress to beginners high intensity intervals when can sustain work at 150 beats per minute or above for 30 minutes.

From there, I like to use heart rate as their recovery determinant rather than time for safety. Recovery to 150 beats is appropriate, however long that may take and can be increased or decreased based on the individual. Session duration has a set time instead of a number of sets.

Workout #1
Perform 20 minutes of switching each set between Medicine Ball Overhead Slams and Medicine Ball Wall Facing Side Pass for 15 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #2
Perform 20 minutes of switching each set between Stationary Bike (preferably Airdyne bike) and Elliptical (preferably with moving handles) for 20 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #3
Perform 20 minutes of switching each set between Overhead Alternating Rope Wave and Underhand Alternating Rope Wave for 30 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #4
Perform 30 minutes of switching each set between Three Hurdle Lateral Weave and Three Hurdle Forward-Backward Weave for 15 second working sets with heart rate recovery

Workout #5
Perform 30 minutes of switching each set between Slideboard and Stair Climber for 20 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #6
Perform 30 minutes of switching between Medicine Ball Wall Chest Pass and Bodyweight Squat to Medicine Ball (preferably big ball) for 30 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #7
Perform 30 minutes of switching between High Knee Run in Place and Jumping Jacks for 15 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #8
Perform 30 minutes of switching between Two Arm Rope Wave and Rope Circles for 20 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #9
Perform 30 minutes of switching between Sled Pushes and Rope Sled Pull for 30 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Workout #10
Perform 30 minutes of switching between Versa Climber and Rowing Machine for 60 second working sets with heart rate recovery.

Intermediate High Intensity Intervals

Progresses when heart rate recovery comes within 5-10 seconds of double the work intervals consistently.

1:2 work to rest ratio.

Workout #1
3 clusters of:
8 sets of 15 seconds working set with 30 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 5: Alternating Overhand Rope Wave
Sets 2 and 6: Rope Jumping Jacks
Sets 3 and 7: Alternating Underhand Rope Wave
Sets 4 and 8: Rope Circles
2 minutes rest between each cluster.

Workout #2
3 clusters of:
6 sets of 20 second working sets with 40 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 4: Three Hurdle Step-Over
Sets 2 and 5: Three Hurdle Lateral Weave
Sets 3 and 6: Three Hurdle Cross-Over
2 minutes rest between each cluster.

Workout #3
3 clusters of:
4 sets of 30 second working sets with 60 seconds recovery
Set 1: Forward Sprint
Set 2: Lateral Shuffle
Set 3: Backpedal
Set 4: Lateral Cross-Over
2 minutes rest between each cluster

Workout #4
3 clusters of:
10 sets of 15 second working sets with 30 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 6: Push-Ups
Sets 2 and 7: Alternating Lunge
Sets 3 and 8: Chin-Up
Sets 4 and 9: Hip Press
Sets 5 and 10: Plank to Opposite Raise

Workout #5
3 clusters of:
10 sets of 20 second working sets with 40 seconds recovery
Kettlebell Swings
2 minutes rest between each cluster

Workout #6
3 clusters of:
6 sets of 30 second working sets with 60 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 4: 25 yard shuttles
Sets 2 and 5: 20 yard shuttles
Sets 3 and 6: 15 yard shuttles
2 minutes rest between each cluster

Workout #7
3 clusters of:
12 sets of 15 second working sets with 30 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 7: Dumbbell Squat Jump
Sets 2 and 8: Dumbbell Curl and Press
Sets 3 and 9: Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Sets 4 and 10: Dumbbell Plank Row
Sets 5 and 11: Dumbbell Goblet Squat
Sets 6 and 12: Dumbbell Push-Up
2 minutes rest between each cluster

Workout #8
3 clusters of:
10 sets of 20 second working sets with 40 seconds recovery
Odd numbered sets: Medicine Ball Burpees
Even numbered sets: Medicine Ball Overhead Slams

Workout #9
5 clusters of:
10 sets of 10 second working sets with 20 seconds recovery
Every set: Sled pushes
2 minutes between each cluster

Workout #10
2 clusters of:
4 sets of 60-second workings sets with 2 minutes recovery
Every Set: Long Hill Run or Stadium Steps
4 minutes between the clusters

Advanced High Intensity Intervals

Progress when RPE of intermediate intervals falls below an eight (on one to ten scale)

1:1 work to rest ratio or negative rest

Workout #1
4 clusters of:
8 sets of 15 second working sets with 15 seconds recovery
Cluster 1: Airdyne Bike
Cluster 2: Versa Climber
Cluster 3: Treadmill
Cluster 4: Rowing Machine
3 minutes recovery between clusters

Workout #2
4 clusters of:
6 sets of 20-second workout sets with 20 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 4: Overhand Alternating Rope Wave with Alternating Lunge
Sets 2 and 5: Two-Hand Wave with 180 Degree Jumps
Sets 3 and 6: Underhand Alternating Rope Wave with Squat
3 minute recovery between clusters

Workout #3
4 clusters of:
4 sets of 30 second working sets with 30 seconds recovery
Set 1: Medicine Ball Wall Chest Pass
Set 2: Medicine Ball Wall Left Side Pass
Set 3: Medicine Ball Overhead Slam
Set 4: Medicine Ball Right Side Pass
3 minutes rest between clusters

Workout #4
4 clusters of:
10 sets of 15 second working sets with 15 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 6: Burpees
Sets 2 and 7: Jumping Jacks
Sets 3 and 8: High Knee Run in Place
Sets 4 and 9: Tuck Jumps
Sets 5 and 10: Mountain Climbers
3 minutes rest between clusters

Workout #5
4 clusters of:
8 sets of 20 second working sets with 20 seconds recovery
Sets 1 and 5: Push-Up
Sets 2 and 6: Bodyweight Squat
Sets 3 and 7: Suspension Row
Sets 4 and 8: Stability Ball Leg Curl
Rest 3 minutes between clusters

Workout #6
4 clusters of:
6 sets of 30 second working sets with 30 seconds recovery
Clusters 1 and 3: Slideboard
Clusters 2 and 4: Jump Rope
Rest 3 minutes between clusters

Workout #7
4 clusters of:
10 sets of 15 second working sets with 15 seconds recovery
Every Set: Pro Agility Repeats
Rest 4 minutes between clusters

Workout #8
4 clusters of:
8 sets of 20 second working sets with 20 seconds recovery
Every Set: Kettlebell Snatches Switching Hands Every Rep
Rest 4 minutes between clusters

Workout #9
4 clusters of:
6 sets of 30 second working sets with 30 seconds recovery
Every Set: 25 Yard Shuttles
Rest 4 minutes between clusters

Workout #10
2 clusters of:
8 sets of 20 second working sets with 10 seconds recovery
Cluster 1: Treadmill
Cluster 2: Front Squat
Rest 15 minutes between clusters