High Intensity Interval Training vs. Steady State Cardio
By Darelle Noel, Performance Trainer at Athletic Gaines
Whether you do cardio to improve your life 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), they 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 steady pace for an extended period of time, maintaining a pretty leveled 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 changes the heartrate expeditiously improving your work to rest ratio (Energy System Capacity) A blend of both could even be a better option. Instead of slow, plodding workouts, try a combination of utilizing both energy system. This will have your muscle groups, nervous system, and hormones acting synergistically into efficient movement patterns that 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 getting good at what you’re not good at and even better at what you are good at.
You can measure intensity in a variety of ways including number of reps, distance covered in a specific amount of time, or the time it takes to complete a specific number or reps or distance. Traditionally intensity has been monitored by tracking heart rate, but this isn’t always reasonable for everyone. We know that heart rate will track differently to the different types of exercise (e.g., we wouldn’t expect your heart rate to get as high on a bike as we would while running at the same intensity level). If you’re just starting out, or it’s the first time you’ve worked out in a while, use heart rate to measure intensity, but pay attention to how it feels when doing different exercise or exercise that require more expended energy . That way you’ll able to incorporate a wider variety of movements into your work while still having a valid method to quantify intensity.
Begin with 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.
Next 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)
◾Rowing for speed.
A balanced training program should use different combinations of these exercise 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.