High Intensity Interval Training vs. Steady State Cardio

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By Darelle Noel

Whether you use cardio workouts to improve your health or performance in sports, one common goal of cardio training is to improve the function and capacity of your energy system. Many people decide the intensity of their workouts based on what they’re looking to accomplish during training. Some prefer steady state cardio (Aerobic) while others prefer high intensity interval training (Anaerobic).  Both yield great cardiovascular results so neither is a wrong way to go.

Slow steady state cardio or aerobic activity is when an exercise is performed at one FullSizeRender 20steady pace for an extended period of time, maintaining a relatively constant intensity level or heartrate.

High Intensity Interval Training or anaerobic training is a technique that alternates between short intense activity with a maximum recovery period. This technique varies the heartrate expeditiously improving your work to rest ratio (Energy System Capacity).

A blend of both could be an even better option. Instead of slow, plodding workouts, try a combination of utilizing both energy systems. This will have your muscle groups, nervous system, and hormones acting synergistically to help your body work as efficiently as possible. All these benefits result from time-efficient workouts that are much shorter than your average lower-intensity cardio session. The program you choose should reflect a balance of strengthening your weaknesses and challenging your strengths.FullSizeRender 19

Begin by improving your overall aerobic threshold, some great exercises are:

◾Outdoors: Paced walking, walking up hills, biking, rowing

◾Indoors: Biking, treadmill climbing/walking, elliptical trainer

Using the aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular system and prepare your muscles for the greater speeds.

FullSizeRender 18Next try to move into a little more intensity levels, At this level you’ll ride, run, or climb as hard as possible for between 10-30 seconds with maximum levels of recovery.. In order to get the most out you’ll need to pack as much power and energy into these segments as possible.

Some of the best activities for this are:

◾Sprinting (flat or uphill)

◾Shuttle runs (5 yards and back, 10 yards and back, 15 yards and back)

◾Bicycle intervals

◾Tredmill Sprints

◾Rowing for speed. FullSizeRender 17

A balanced training program should use different combinations of these exercises and different intensity levels to create varied and personalized workout that will develop both energy thresholds. You can spend more time in aerobic level initially and progress to performing intervals in which you spend more time in higher-intensity zones to improve your overall endurance, strength, and power.

FullSizeRender 21Blog Post written by Darelle Noel, Athletic Gaines Performance Specialist.  I have had the good fortune to work with him at Catz Physical Therapy/Athletic Gaines Pasadena.

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