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Apr 17, 2011

Is Interval Training (HIIT) Fact or Fiction?

I first read about high-intensity interval training when I was reading a book, although at the time I didn’t know it was referring to this.
It spoke about using a pyramid technique which involved power walking at a certain speed and then walking faster at a higher speed this is where the interval comes in.
Here is what is supposed to happen when you’re walking at a moderate pace you’re utilising anaerobic exercise, which basically means that oxygen is used for fuel as well other things.
However, when you get into the top of the pyramid this is where the anaerobic part of it comes into play.
This is supposed to be the most effective part of the interval this is where your muscles are starting to ache and burn, and you feel as though you can’t give it any more and feel as though you can’t breathe.
This part of the interval is called the anaerobic part the reason for this is because you’re not using oxygen in the process. Exercising this way is supposed to be far more effective than just conventional aerobic exercise.
The main reason for this is you’re pushing yourself harder than you normally would do and increasing your fitness levels far quicker than you would do normally. Another added benefit is that you’re supposed to burn more calories from the after burn effect of it.
However, today I was browsing and came across an article that says that training in intervals is no more effective than training at a constant speed. It’s always interesting to get other people’s opinions on things and have an open mind because things change daily in the fitness/health industry, something which was written say a few months ago can sometimes become obsolete because somebody else has proven the theory otherwise.
Is interval training ( HIIT ) a mere myth?
Here is what was put across in the article as well as the studies, which were mentioned.  The first thing he talks about is if you see websites “with get quick results” “burn lots of fat” “fat burning secrets” then you should be very sceptical.
He goes on to say that all these sound very good and wouldn’t it be great if we did have shortcuts such as these as there is nothing wrong with these in theory.
And as a lot of people do say losing weight or burning calories is simple, you burn more when you’re moving about than when you’re sitting watching television that he says is pretty much it.
However, despite this we are led to believe that there are all sorts of miracle ways of burning extra calories even when we are doing nothing, one of the problems with this is it speaks to people’s what I call the inner lazy person.
Which says great if I buy this course and do what it says, I will burn fat while I am not exercising, I know that’s a crude way of putting it. But that’s basically the type of sales pitch that is used.
The method of HIIT high-intensity interval training came about by the popularity of a book called Body for Life by Bill Phillips. The quote that is used in the book says. This “Not only will interval training burn more calories” “You will burn more after you have stopped exercising”.
Compared to exercising at a slower pace. The author makes references to studies which have researched this particular phenomenon.
However, when the writer of the article looked in his book, he can’t see any references to any of them, but he managed to get a reply from one of his assistants and referred him to a study which was done in 1994 conducted in a journal called Metabolism.
However, in that particular study comparing each group side-by-side, people doing the interval training lost about the same amount of weight as the people who exercised normally.
Not only that they didn’t show much difference in their torsos or upper body, both groups looked the same. There was one minor difference in the low intensity group, for some reason, they gained fat in their calves.
However, despite this HIIT took off really well as trainers found it useful for a lot of their clients. The result of this he says can be seen in gyms where people are speeding up and slowing down on various pieces of equipment like elliptical trainers, exercise bikes, treadmills, etc.
When he sees this, he shakes his head, and goes on to say that it does have its merits for people who want to get fit quickly such as athletes etc. But however, it supposedly doesn’t burn more calories compared to exercising at a normal steady-state.
Apparently fat loss gurus love this type of approach merely because of what it can do as regards the after burn effect or in more technical terms is called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) which in plain english is the amount of calories you burn when you exercise.
However, this so-called theory has been really blown out of proportion in an article which was published in the 2006 edition of Journal of Sports Sciences found that the EPOC was higher after intense exercise but only between six and 15 percent.
And the fitter you are the quicker your metabolism returns to normal this in turn makes the above-mentioned less effective overtime. In another study conducted by the Journal of Applied Physiology found that actively fit people, had a EPOC of or 4.8 percent the lowest case being one percent.
So when you have this particular dynamic in the equation does it really make that much difference? Apparently no it doesn’t if someone runs for a mile at a steady pace for a hour and another person.
Does some interval training say running for 10 minutes speeding up and slowing down, they won’t burn any more calories, even if your speeding up and slowing down. Which is supposed to happen with training by intervals.
Or if you do the same amount of exercise and one does have intervals and the other doesn’t the amount of calories burned will be equal give or take a few.
In some more research in 1997, people were divided into two groups. The researchers also wanted to see if epoc made a big difference when they were training. They took eight men and had them run for 30 minutes, and compared these with a group that did one minute sprints with two minute rest periods combined. Naturally, it took the one minute sprint group longer to complete their workout.
They did burn off slightly more calories than the other group, but it was very marginal about as much that is in a small biscuit if that.
Which he says hardly seems worth the effort, there were a couple of other studies, one, which involved cyclists, and they more or less came to the same conclusion that there wasn’t a significant difference calorie burn wise within a 24-hour period.
In conclusion, what was said is interval training is not a magic bullet for burning calories. You are far better off working out for longer periods at a pace that is sustainable to you and enjoy.

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