Interval training (also called HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training) is a very popular cardio workout plan right now. It's pretty much the polar opposite of LSD – Long Slow Distance.
HIIT is short and ultra intense – like sprinting would be. LSD, on the other hand, is much longer and done much slower – like jogging might be.
Scientific studies have shown that intervals are much more effective than LSD. It gives you many of the same benefits that LSD does, in just a short amount of time. And it gives you many other benefits that LSD does not.
Basically, LSD is just aerobic training, meaning that it's an activity that the body produces energy to perform with oxygen. Or in other words, you're not breathing that hard. Interval training, on the other hand, is anaerobic training, meaning it's an activity that the body produces energy to perform without oxygen. Or in other words, you are breathing hard.
LSD training increases your aerobic abilities. Makes sense. Intervals, however, increase anaerobic abilities (which again, makes sense) * and * aerobic abilities. You're getting two for the price of one.
HIIT has also shown very beneficial to losing fat, as at the end of a workout, your metabolism stands "jacked up" for a number of hours afterwards.
But there is a major problem with HIIT though – it has to be super, super hard. If you're not putting the proper intensity (which is 100%, balls-to-the-wall, you're gonna have an arm chopped off if you do not work hard enough kinda intense) into this cardio workout plan, then you're going to get less than mediocre results.
This is because volume and intensity are inversely proportional in cardio workout plans. You can go long and slow, or short and hard. But you can not go long and hard. Nobody ever sprinted a marathon …
But say you do interval training at a low intensity. Now you're slow and short – worst of both worlds.
So, how can you make sure that you're not wasting your time, and still take advantage of the benefits of interval training?
Easy – just pick out intense activities, and perform them at a medium volume. This could include playing various sports, or better yet, heavy circuit-style weight training.
It will be a version of interval training, in that it'll be shorter bursts of highly intense activity. However, since the cardio activity will not be at 100% intensity, you just do a little more volume to make up for it.