The old approach to cardio and aerobic training had always been 30-60 minutes on the tread mill or bike every day (or atleast 3-5 times a week). While this may be great for building your endurance, this old way of thinking is not the best way to lose weight or burn fat according to new scientific research.
Recent research is suggesting that physical variability is one of the most important aspects to incorporate into your daily routine. Most competitive sports (with the exception of endurance running or cycling) are also based on stop-and-go movement or short bursts of exertion followed by recovery. If you look at the body types of different athletes, you can see a pattern from athletes that perform is sports that require endurance versus athletes that utilize short bursts of speed or strength. Take a look at the body type of a cross country athlete versus the body of a basketball player. Cross country runners are thin and wiry, while basketball players are muscular and lean. While there are other factors involved in this comparison, it shows that shorter bursts of energy allow for leaner, more muscular bodies.
Another aspect of repetitive constant exercises such as the workout discussed above, is the impact it can have on the body. Endurance exercises can degenerate joints, reduces immune function, causes muscle wasting, and can cause a pro-inflammatory response in the body that can potentially lead to chronic diseases. Not to mention the fact that steady state endurance training only trains the heart at one specific heart rate range and doesn't train it to respond to various every day stressors. Variable training puts less stress on the body overall, and helps train your heart to function at both high heart rates and low rates, strengthening your heart to handle everyday stress.
The important aspect of varying intensity training that makes it superior over steady state cardio is the recovery period in between bursts of exertion. That recovery period is crucially important for the body to elicit a healthy response to an exercise stimulus. With greater variety over endurance training, variable intensity training results in fewer drop outs from the programs because of the variation.
While we have only tackled a couple of them in this article, there are plenty of other benefits to using variable intensity workouts versus endurance or cardio training. Even if you are not planning on being a professional athlete, variable workouts will help burn fat faster and lead to a slimmer waist line.
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