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Moses18 09-27-2010 02:39 AM

Interval Exercise or Slow Burn?
I've been exercising weekdays for about a year...elliptical, treadmill, biking and weights. I try to read up on the best use of my time...interval or slow burn for cardio and have seen conflicting information on which burns the most calories in the shortest amount of time. (I know I have to put my time in-try to do 1 hr cardio) The bottom line for me is calories burned...
Anyone have the bottom line on this?

cjohnson728 09-27-2010 02:58 AM

I have read that intervals are more effective...however, more effective by what measure I do not know. There are many on here who are much more well-versed than I am, but I do know that intervals and steady state have different benefits. I have a heart-rate monitor that calculates calories and I get about the same burn in the same amount of time, but as far as the benefits to heart health and VO2 max, etc., the benefits are different. I actually like doing both just because of the activities I'm into and to keep my exercise varied so my body doesn't adapt as much.

What do you do for weight training? The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, even at rest. That will happen if you are using significant weights (i.e., not the 1-pound dumbbells in pretty colors).

Update...did a quick search and, surprise, surprise, found articles on the internet that say steady state burns more and articles that say intervals burn take anything with a grain of salt!

midwestj 09-27-2010 04:49 AM

I prefer interval training because it can be done faster, its more enjoyable, and it has effects on your body that cause you to burn calories long after the exercise.

For one I think it is way easier to control your diet and cut out some extra calories than it is to burn them off in the gym. If you want to maximize your time spent in the gym definitely try interval training and weight lifting. Long slow cardio can be effective but it is certainly a huge time sink. I can get my weight routine and an interval session done in 45 minutes only 3 days a week, whereas the cardio enthusiast might spend an hour or more a day lugging it on a treadmill.... yuck.

Also there is something in the way you train. Just take a look at olympic athletes. Marathon runners are slender and have less muscle mass than average because of how they train, the body wants to be more efficient running those long distances so it adapts to do more with less. Sprinters are built and have muscular physiques because they train for power, the kind of power you don't need when you are running 10 miles.

Interval training like weight training takes a while to recover from a workout. Experts recommend 2-3 interval sessions a week, if you did more than that you would not be able to maintain the necessary intensity for an effective interval workout.

A lot of people don't do intervals correctly because the whole intensity scale is subjective. You really have to push yourself as hard as you can go for that working set.

siegemachine 09-27-2010 05:31 AM

From what I have read, eventually your body will become so efficient at doing long and slow cardio (even running) that you will have to put in more and more time doing them to burn the same amount of calories. In interval workouts you are using more muscle fibers and as your body becomes more comfortable with the workout you can raise the intensity of the workout, without increasing the time.

To get the most out of your time at the gym I would suggest to avoid cardio and focus on weight training 3 days a week and intervals 2 days a week. If you enjoy cardio then only do it on days you don't lift or at very least after lifting since your energy will be sapped from cardio and will cause you to have less efficient workout. (Your diet will be a much better tool for controlling calories than any workout so if you keep up with it your workouts should be focused on improving your fitness and less about how much you burn.)

Ultimately trial and error work best, you can experiment with different programs in 2-4 week intervals to find which one works best for you.

Wylie7 09-27-2010 01:31 PM

I prefer the intervals for the same reasons Jason does. I get bored if I do cardio for any length of time and intervals really break it up for me and I burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. I also throw weight training and long runs or walks in during my week too. I do most of my strength / interval workouts in one hour at the gym, two to three days a week and my long runs/walks the other two or three days. I think that you have to do what works for you.

Clarinet_star 10-07-2010 11:50 PM

In agreement with some of what was said above, your body will adapt to long duration and lower intensity exercise when it is done several times a week over months or more. Then it becomes ineffective in terms of weight loss. Integrating strength training is a good idea, but if that does not appeal to you, stick to lower intensity long duration 2-3 times a week, and throw in 1-2 HIT sessions.

temptingfate 10-16-2010 08:04 PM

I'm new!

But, this question had me thinking.

I've been doing the treadmill for the past 3/4 years, and enjoying myself immensely. Someone said that my walking 4.0 at a 7 incline wasn't enough and I should do intervals.

Every since doing intervals, I've become unmotivated :(

You see, I got so good at the speed I was walking that I could close my eyes and sort of meditate/daydream..but with intervals, I can't do that.

Now, it seems all work and I don't enjoy myself. I think in my case, even though I don't burn as much, I'm going to go back to a steady pace.

I figure it's better than not having fun and avoiding the treadmill all together.

midwestj 10-16-2010 08:32 PM

I prefer intervals on an upright bike.

Most of the time when I see people walking on a treadmill with an incline they are holding themselves up with the handles, defeating the purpose of the incline and thats a horrible posture to be in while walking.

I believe if you enjoy running do it. Maybe try and do 1-2 interval sessions a week in place of your normal running workouts, but stick with what you like to do.

On the interval days just suck it up and tough it out, you will thank yourself as your fitness improves.

Doing them on a bike is an easy way to quickly change resistances. I monitor my watts and revs, nothing else. Sticking between 80-100 revs on the bike and increasing your resistance.

Also the bike is less of an injury risk than treamills when doing intervals, I believe the best options are upright bike, or sprinting on the ground. Most treadmills cannot go as fast as a person can sprint anyways.

tandoorichicken 10-16-2010 10:22 PM

Originally Posted by temptingfate (Post 23313)
Every since doing intervals, I've become unmotivated :(

You see, I got so good at the speed I was walking that I could close my eyes and sort of meditate/daydream..but with intervals, I can't do that.

Now, it seems all work and I don't enjoy myself. I think in my case, even though I don't burn as much, I'm going to go back to a steady pace.

Hi temptingfate,

I don't want to come off as harsh but in my very humble opinion, if you get to the point where you can daydream while exercising, it's not hard enough! (Same goes for reading a magazine or talking on the phone while working out).

I get bored with exercising when it gets too easy. If I'm not working a serious sweat and gasping for air, I need to step it up a notch otherwise I'll start seriously questioning whether I'm wasting time at the gym. And I sort of have a habit of passing this judgment on other people as well.

Get motivated to push yourself a little harder, and do the intervals! The best part is the feeling you get when you finish, feeling like you accomplished something, and over time you have more energy and better mood as your conditioning improves.

midwestj 10-17-2010 12:06 AM

I would agree with that a lot Nik.

I spend 45 mins in the gym and its a back breaking, sweat dripping, intense 45 mins.

You don't need to do that every day, I only do it 3 times a week. The rest of the week can be the laid back stuff that is just more part of an active lifestyle rather than exercise.

I find that when I change my mindset about exercising it doesn't matter how hard I work I enjoy it. Actually the harder I work the more I enjoy it because If I don't work hard I feel like I had a bad workout and its a let down. My hard work directly correlates to the measurable results I get every week. Theres your motivation!

I am definitely in agreement with Nik that if you can daydream and meditate while working out you need to push yourself a little harder.

It takes intense exercise to get a hard body.

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