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Cardio Interval Training and Why It Works

With new research on exercise steadily surfacing, it can be hard to keep up with the headlines. But amid the many calls to change your routine, one thing seems to remain constant: the benefits of interval training. Some of my favorite evidence:

A study in the Journal of Physiology found that 20 minutes of interval training (30-second bursts followed by four minutes of recovery) produced the same physiological adaptations in the body and improvements in performance as 90 minutes of continuous cardio at a moderate pace. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who practiced high-intensity interval training for 15 weeks had a reduction in subcutaneous fat (the kind that sits just below your skin) that was nine times greater than those who performed steady-state cardio workouts for 20 weeks. And the list goes on and on.

Here's 30-minute routine for the treadmill to freshen up your sessions or workouts.

As always, feel free to adjust the speed up or down as you feel necessary; just make sure you're challenging yourself.

How can you change your metabolism?

image01(1) If you want to change your metabolism, you have to increase muscle mass and increase your muscle's oxidative capacity. Your muscles have these energy producing units called 'mitochondria' and this is where ATP are made and fats are burned.

The more mitochondria you have and the more active they are the greater oxidative capacity you will have for fat loss. HIIT(high intensity interval training) increases mitochondrial capacity and you actually increase the amount of mitochondria you produce. Studies show that you get greater fat loss through high intensity training because of the increase in oxidative capacity. Whereas with LISS(low intensity steady state training) you're only burning calories at that precise moment, there's no 24 hour energy expenditure (boost in metabolism) and it hurts you down the line because your body adjusts to it and you end up needing more to lose fat. With HIIT you are burning calories at the moment but you actually change the muscles metabolism and it boosts your metabolism because you increase the mitochondria density of your muscle, so you increase the muscles oxidative capacity and you really do burn more calories. What most people don't realize is you have to put your body in an uncomfortable mode and use the max energy expenditure.

Reminder, I'm not saying to not do long steady cardio, like; marathons, triathlons, cross country running, trail running, long bouts on the treadmill/outdoors, etc. I'm mainly talking about the effects cardio interval training(HIIT or IT) has on your workouts, to better your gains in a different way.

The Bottom Line

Do the type of cardio that you have a personal preference for. Whichever one fires you up the most because you'll most likely work harder at it. HIIT is quicker, proves to be more effective for fat loss, creates metabolic changes, and helps with muscle retention but not everybody can do HIIT. LISS is safer, but takes twice as long to accomplish similar things and it still has its place for fat loss in moderate amounts, from a pure calorie burning standpoint (meaning only to burn calories & not make changes to your metabolism). My intentions weren't to favor one form of cardio and bash the other, even though it sounded like that. My intent was to educate and bring awareness that science is proving good results with HIIT cardio.

There are many ways to work out on a treadmill, but my favorite are intervals. Changing your pace every few minutes busts through the boredom often associated with indoor running, and once you set your pace on the treadmill, it's difficult to cheat. In this workout, the running speed pushes you beyond your comfort zone with a gradual build, and the minute-long recovery is just long enough to lower your heart rate and rev up for the next interval. Another reason to love intervals: they help you lose belly fat. This workout combines running with walking, so if you're new to intervals, then you should definitely give it a try.

The key to effective exercise for weight loss and overall health is not duration but intensity. The long slow constant speed aerobics that we've all been trained to believe is so good for us is exactly the wrong thing for us to be doing all the time. – Partial reference from:

I'm here to tell you that if you don't like running, you don't need to be spending hours a day on a treadmill or out jogging around your neighborhood to lose weight. In fact, those hours of running could actually be causing you a litany of healthy issues that I can help you avoid. There's a type of advanced training that not only burns calories more efficiently than just cardio, but it can also increase your aerobic breathing capacity MORE than just cardio while also increasing your capacity for max sprinting ability.

(warning – interval training is not for beginners. You should at least be familiar with these exercises before attempting interval training).

Why interval training?

Your heart is a muscle: If you keep your heart beating at a constant rate, and never expanding it outside of its comfort zone, it will never grow. If you do 100 benchpresses with 10 pounds and don't "feel it", your chest will never develop. Same thing with your heart...if it's not feeling the exertion, it doesn't have to work harder, and nothing has changed. However, when you throw some intervals in there, your heart will have to work harder, pump more blood, and work harder to return to normal levels.

Interval training promotes a healthier physique. I know this is pretty superficial, but who doesn't want to look good? Weight training plays a HUGE rule. However, it's a lot easier to get weight training in when you don't have to run for 2-3 hours a day.

Interval training improves both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. As referenced in this post from Mark's Daily Apple, Dr. Tabata's "famous study on moderate and high-intensity interval training helped legitimize a movement – away from chronic cardio and toward high-intensity workouts. This studies showed that high-intensity intermittent training actually improves both anaerobic (intensity and muscle building) and aerobic (slower, oxygen consuming) body systems, while aerobic exercise only improves aerobic systems." Two for one!

So try something new, and see how it goes for you. Go on the Facebook page to give your new program, or to make comments. Visit us on Facebook @RiseNGrindFitnessGym

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