Maximize Your Cardio Training With Intervals

December 27, 2012 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Conditioning Videos

Ever feel like the hours you spend on the treadmill don't yield the results you're looking for? Your muscles look flatter, you still have fat in troublesome areas, and you feel a general sense of fatigue going into your training session. This is not uncommon, yet people still flock to cardio equipment for long-duration workouts. (Learn how to condition for your sport.)

Steady-state aerobic training, where you maintain a slow to moderate pace for extended durations, can seriously interfere with power and strength development—for several reasons, including:

  • It increases the release of cortisol, a hormone that actually breaks down muscle
  • It fails to develop fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are primarily active during strength and power movements

There's also evidence that extreme endurance training, such as that performed by marathoners and triathletes, may cause transient structural cardiovascular changes. Over time, this can lead to of scarring of certain areas of the heart and abnormal heart rhythms. (Source.)

At this point, you may be wondering what type of workout will provide the assumed benefits of cardio workouts without the drawbacks. The answer is high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT workouts involve alternating intervals of work and rest. The idea is that you are able to train at a higher intensity, increasing the physiological changes in your body. And this can be achieved in a much shorter amount of time.

A popular example of HIIT is Tabata training, which calls for eight 20-second max-effort sprints, each followed by  10 seconds of rest. Compared to traditional aerobic training, Tabata training produces vastly superior results and a more meaningful impact on sports performance. (Find out the detailed results here.)

The great thing about HIIT workouts like Tabata is you can perform them with a variety of exercise options to keep workouts fresh, fun and challenging. For example, you can choose to perform Burpees, Mountain Climbers, Squat Jumps or virtually any exercise that elevates your heart rate.

One final point: compare the physiques of Olympic sprinters with those of long-distance runners. Sprinters wouldn't look out of place on an NFL field or NBA court, whereas long-distance runners look like they might blow away in the wind. I rest my case.

Sources

Passelergue, P., et al. "Saliva cortisol, testosterone and T/C ratio variations during a wrestling competition and during the post-competitive recovery period." Int J Sports Med. 1999 Feb;20(2):109-13.

O'Keefe, J., et al. "Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects from Excessive Endurance Exercise." Mayo Clinic Proceedings. June 2012. 87 (6), 587-595.

Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Must See
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 24,582,996
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 86,446
Colin Kaepernick Explains His Ridiculous Socks Colin Kaepernick Explains His Ridiculous Socks
Views: 32,658,503

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Views: 243,472
Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 22,491
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,235
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,211
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,938
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,918
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,269,514
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,560

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: The Hill

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

5 Brutal Sprint Drills That Push the Lactic Threshold

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

4 Simple Drills to Improve Your Endurance

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

Prepare for Your Season With These Conditioning Drills

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

Get in Shape With 5 Intense Lower-Body Finishers

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

How to Avoid Hockey Conditioning That Slows You Down

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Altitude Training

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

Adeline Gray Is Going for Gold

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Fartlek Run

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

ZSeries 10-Minute Workouts: Interval Sprints

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

Advanced High School Football Summer Conditioning Program

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

7 Footwork Drills That Give You an Advantage

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

STACK Challenge: Finish Strong

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

Test Your Toughness With the Who Dat? Challenge

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Off-Season Conditioning: Full-Body Med Ball Workout

Get in Shape Fast With Todd Durkin's 5 Intense Workout Finishers

Get in Shape Fast With Todd Durkin's 5 Intense Workout Finishers

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

Can You Pass Drew Brees' Conditioning Test?

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

The Mount Everest Treadmill Challenge

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

Get in Basketball Shape With the Right Workout

In Defense of Cardio

In Defense of Cardio

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

4 HIIT Workouts That Will Get You in Shape Fast

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

Get in Football Shape Fast With Metabolic Runs

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Win the Fourth Quarter With These Basketball Sled Push Finishers

Can You Survive the 100 Bears Challenge?

Can You Survive the

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

LeBron James's Insane Conditioning Drill

Who Invented the Burpee?

Who Invented the Burpee?

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

A Slo-Mo Must-See: Ike Taylor's 4-Man Battle Rope Squats

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

Baseball Conditioning: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Obstacle Race Training: Get in Shape With This Finisher

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

Alternatives to Boring Cardio Training

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

5 NBA Players Who Found Their Game After Losing Weight

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Training with the Elevation Training Mask 2.0

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

STACK Challenge: 500-Meter Row

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

How to Build Soccer-Specific Conditioning

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

How Sporting Kansas City Stays 'Sporting Fit'

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

LaTroy Hawkins' Epic Battle Ropes Workout

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

Get in Shape With This Basketball Conditioning Workout

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Much Is Too Much?

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

WATCH: Ronda Rousey's Intense New Bag Drill

Why Better Conditioned Athletes Have Fewer Injuries

Why Better Conditioned Athletes Have Fewer Injuries

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

Can You Handle the Husker Toughness Test?

YardBarker