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The Great Cardio Face-Off: Interval v Old-School

A good cardio workout really can’t be beaten.  Sure, weights might give you that feelgood soreness, and a decent swim is perfect for summer.  However, you just can’t beat the combination of muscle exhaustion, aerobic improvement and feel-good hormones that come from the bike, the treadmill or the rower.

interval cardio

However, the last few years has seen a steadying emergence of interval training.  Simply the act of working in intervals (hence the name) of very high intensity movement, followed by an identical time period of lower effort.   Is it worth the commitment, or would it be better to stick to the more classic routines?  We take a look at which of the two methods holds out:


Fat burning

One of the most important factors to anyone who steps inside a gym, fat burning is a vital part of a good cardio routine.  Traditionally, longer ‘marathon’ sessions were considered to be the ultimate fat-burner.  Actually, studies have shown that intervals are far more effective in removing the blubber, even with the time difference spent exercising being considered.

Winner: Intervals.

fat burning cardio

Aerobic fitness

 If you’re a sportsman or woman, then you take your aerobic fitness seriously – there’s little use being a wizard with the ball if you can’t chase after it!  That’s why you should be participating in the exercise that offers you the most substantial increase in cardio-vascular fitness.  Once again, interval training triumphs over more traditional methods.   Tests at the Japanese Institute of Fitness and Sport (which you can see here) showed that interval training provided far more stimulus to the cardio-vascular system, and subsequently lead to big increases in the aerobic capabilities of the subjects.

Winner: Intervals.


Injury Prevention

 One of the golden rules in any fitness regime is that you can’t improve if you’re on the injured list!  If you’re looking to avoid getting seriously crocked, then more traditional training is usually a good idea if you’re already susceptible to certain injuries.  Obviously intervals don’t mean a guaranteed injury, but those with dodgy ankles should probably avoid sprinting along a concrete road!

Winner: Traditional


Calorie Burning

The closest factor to consider, calorie burning is obviously dependent on how long you participate in the exercise. Sixty minutes of interval training will burn more calories than sixty minutes of mid-paced exercise, but unless you’re Zeus, God of Thunder, the chances are that sixty minutes of high intensity work will clean you out.  The deciding factor here is that interval training also leads to an increase in your metabolic rate for 24 hours after a workout, due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.   Essentially, your body will consume more calories in the 24 hours following an interval training session than it will following a standard workout.  Winner!

Winner: Intervals

calorie burning cardio

There you have it, folks: whether you’re training for a marathon or looking to bang in more goals, interval training is the way forward.  Enjoy! If that’s the right expression…

Charlotte Daniels is a freelance writer and fitness fanatic currently working in association with FactoryFast Online Shopping


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