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Steady-State Versus High Interval Training
writes, "So last week I asked my FaceBook friends if they read on the treadmill. This week I wanted to expand further on the subject. Which cardio is better, Steady-State or High Interval Training?"
I found an article just as I was posting last week's blog, and I found it interesting because it talked about me. The me who was the half-marthoner, me who was the body builder. For years I was a long distance runner, skinny arms, flat chest, extrememly skinny legs (no muscle) on an overall lean frame. Now think about the Olympic sprinter - a generous amount of dense muscle, eight-pack abdominals, awesome shoulders and strong looking legs. It made we wonder why, as a body-builder with a long line of generations before me, we look to burn fat and improve body composition through slow, long-distance bouts on the treadmill.

This article did five studies. The first study had subjects placed on a two week endurance program or a 15 week HIT (High Intensity Training) program. The HIT subjects experienced a 51% increase in the transport of fatty acids (meaning they had more lean muscle) by the end of the experiment.

Study number two showed how much fat burning is continued post-exercise. Subjects were measured 24 hours after either a low-intensity exercise or high-intensity intervals. Scientists found the high-intensity group expended significantly more energy during, recovery and the into the next 24 hours.

Study number three showed total calories burned, which clearly was the steady-state training.

Study number four was on conditioning. Cardio is not just a way to burn fat; it also induces adaptations in your body that leads to greater levels of conditioning. So which type of cardio will help you go the extra mile? The HIT training increased subjects VO2 max, but the steady-state subjects showed oxidative capacity and delayed lactic acid levels. So it was a draw.

Study number five was on time commitment. HIT wins easily. You can perform 20 minutes of work and get profound adaptation. However, it should not be done every day.

And the winner is...while steady-state cardio is a very effective means of melting off unwanted pounds, it is the high intensity training that wins our blubber battle royale. Not only does it crank up your metabolic furnance, both during and after your workouts, you don't have to perform HIT sessions for hours on end for noticeable results.

Trina K Kubitschek, CPT
Owner of CrossFit Station
Nutrition Counseling
Endurance Coaching


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