One painful footfall at a time.
45 minutes to go and you’re feeling ready to drop at 15.
The scary part is, if you’re feeling that way, you just might not be too far off from doing just that.
Sure, doing “cardio” and other aerobic exercises can have positive effects upon your health, like improving the efficiency of your heart, and activating your immune system, among others…
Unfortunately, though, more and more studies are being released supporting the possibility that a traditional approach to cardiovascular exercise can just as likely be a recipe for failure.
Recent Studies Suggest Traditional “Cardio” Is Bad for You!
That’s right. So, not only can the torture of enduring “regular cardio” be disheartening, it can actually be physically harmful and counterproductive. Recent studies show that cardio may:
- Burn muscle instead of fat.
- Cause your body to actually store fat by decreasing crucial thyroid hormone production, while increasing the stress hormone cortisol.
- Lead to increases in appetite, causing you to crave food, especially the sugary stuff.
- Be hard on your heart, back, and joints (with certain exercises like jogging, it’s considered common knowledge).
- Cause oxidative damage and increase free radicals in the body, making you age faster.
How to Get Around the Dangerous Effects of Cardio?
Enter Interval-Training; a cool exercise hack that everyone who’s serious about fitness should know about.
What is interval training exactly?
We’ve discussed this somewhat in the past, but I couldn’t help notice that most people make it far more complicated than it is, calculating VO2max, timing each interval down to the last second and weighing up the best “recipe” with all the focused intensity of a nuclear chemist.
This robs a simple exercise tool of a lot of the power it holds to make your workouts more enjoyable and effective. You don’t have to get highly-technical to leverage intervals for their benefits, especially if you’re not an elite athlete with top competition in mind.
Interval training is nothing more than alternating brief, high-intensity periods of work with breaks or low-intensity periods of work.
For example, a brisk walk on a treadmill can be interrupted with short periods of jogging or sprinting, and then you return to the previous pace. Simple, right?
So What’s the Big Deal Then?
Here are seven benefits to this simple workout trick:
1. Burn More Calories Faster
Alternating high-intensity periods with low-intensity periods burns calories faster than keeping a continuous pace the entire time.
2. Increase Your Metabolism
Studies show that metabolism can be significantly increased by these high-intensity bursts. That means you lose weight faster even when not working out. Nice.
4. Increase the Speed of Aerobic Gains
When people really amp it up in the high-intensity bursts, they can improve their aerobic capabilities faster, over a shorter period of time. The workouts may feel easier, but they’re constantly pushing the ceiling upwards.
5. Less Monotonous Than Regular Cardio
Most people never fully incorporate cardiovascular workouts into their routine simply because it’s a grind. The voice in your head gets obnoxious fast.
With interval training, you constantly change pace and can even play little mind games with yourself. You can further this benefit by varying your intervals.
It also breaks each workout down into little goals:
“Three more minutes and then I can sprint.”
“This sprint will be over in 30 seconds and then I can take it easy again.”
Before you know it, the workout is over.
This means you’re more likely to stick with your training and more likely to enjoy the long-term health benefits of exercise.
6. Increases Your Lactate Threshold
One of the biggest areas of focus for long-distance sports participants in increasing their lactate threshold, which is the amount of time you can work out at peak capacity before your muscles burn out. Essentially, when you exercise, your muscles get deprived of oxygen and build up lactic acid, which causes soreness and muscle fatigue.
Even though interval training is the opposite of continuous, it has been shown to be very effective in increasing your lactate threshold, giving you more endurance for long-distance sports and making your regular workouts more comfortable.
7. Easy to Adapt to Your Favorite Training Methods
Forget people who are always arguing whether jogging wins over swimming or whether rowing machines are better – interval training is easy to do with just about any type of training.
Laps in a pool. Jogging. Sprinting. Walking. Treadmills. Even weights.
It has to do with pace and nothing else.
How Can You Leverage the Interval Hack Now?
Any way you want to, really. Just experiment.
Next time you’re doing some cardio, try alternating every minute of easy pace with a minute of intense work. Be careful about going too hard at first, though, especially if you’re new to working out.
Try playing around with different periods of intensity and find what you like, or vary it all the time to keep your body and mind engaged during your workouts. You can even do pyramids, increasing the length of the intervals with each set and then working your way back down.
Just have fun with it.
Want to turn it up a notch and get more scientific?
On the next page, my buddy and Men’s Health author, Crag Ballantyne, breaks down a tested and verified way to drop 9 TIMES MORE FAT than the poor saps torturing themselves on treadmills and ellipticals every day.
It’s all centered around your body’s ability to produce a very specific fat burning SUPER-hormone.
…which is effectively triggered by this specific system he talks about.
What Craig reveals will save you hours each week, and will finally help you lose stubborn belly fat, simply by making the switch to LESS exercise.
Discover his simple secrets on the next page…