Is Cardio a Waste of Time?
The first thing I notice when I walk into the gym is the abundance of people gathered around the aerobics equipment.
Recent research shows that long aerobic training sessions are not necessary and not nearly as effective as specific short explosive exercises, known as High Intensity Interval training, abbreviated HIIT.
These short intensive exercises have been shown to increase the release of human growth hormone (HGH) by more than 500% and keeps it active for hours after completion of the exercise. To put this into perspective, just 10 minutes of BRISK exercise can lead to beneficial biochemical changes that are measurable an hour later.
Studies have shown that HIIT eliminates fat tissue 50% more effectively than traditional aerobic cardio training. By having a prolonged effect on your metabolism, HIIT also aids in the burning of calories consistently through the day.
HIIT can produce the same benefits of aerobic cardio training in a much shorter period of time.
Running Can Damage Your Heart
According to research performed by Dr. Larose, a professor of medicine at Laval University in Quebec, there is a possibility that extended periods of running, such as those seen in marathons, can damage your heart.
Using only a stethoscope, it was impossible for doctors to accurately estimate the actual function of a patients heart. However, when magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was implemented, it was found that patients had damaged right ventricles due to exercise-induced injury.
Results showed that while the hearts had increased in volume, there was a significant decrease in function (ability to pump blood).
It was concluded that “Marathon runners can be a lot less fit than they think.” As previous research has suggested, the greatest improvements in endurance, speed, power, and weight loss can be achieved through HIIT.
What is HIIT?
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) or sprint interval training is a form of exercise strategy that is intended to improve cardiovascular capacity and improve performance with short, intensive exercise sessions that may vary from 10-30 minutes.
HIIT can be performed once or twice a week in which the exercises are executed at near maximum intensity for 20-30 seconds, then alternated with recovery for 90 seconds. However, based on the athlete’s conditioning, the protocol can be set at 1:2, 1:1, 2:1, etc. for workouts to recovery periods. For example, a beginner runner would alternate 30 seconds of hard sprinting with 60 seconds of jogging at a ratio 1:2.
The “maximum” intensity is absolutely individual. For some it may be as simple as fast walking alternating with slow walking. HIIT can be improvised into almost any exercise. If you have access to equipment, using a recumbent bike can work really well by alternating between fast and slow pedaling.
A high intensity interval training session typically consists of 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching for warm-up, followed by 4 to 8 (or more) repetitions of high intensity exercises at near maximum intensity and ending with a period of 5-10 minutes of cool down exercises and stretching.
Benefits of HIIT
By participating regularly in approximately 20 minutes of HIIT 1-2 times per week, most people can notice the following benefits:
- Improves muscle tone
- Improves skin firmness/removes wrinkles
- Boosts energy and sexual desire
- Improves athletic speed and performance
- Allows you to achieve your fitness goals much faster
- Lowers body fat
I have been supplementing my karate training with HIIT and have noticed immense benefits in everything mentioned above as well as in my techniques. For an HIIT workout routine, check out my 20 Minute High Intensity Interval Workout.
And if you’re new to this type of training, click here for a complete beginner’s guide to HIIT.