Monday, October 29, 2007

Feedback on Interval Training

(NOTE: Don't miss the video at the end of this post)

Friday morning I opened my inbox to find triple the normal amount of emails as usual. These extra emails were all reactions to my last two posts about intervals. As I scanned through them, one in particular caught my eye. The subject was "Thank God someone finally said it" and the email was from none other than world renowned fat loss expert and fellow Jersey native, Tom Venuto.

"I got a real kick out of your last 2 articles... glad you said it like only a guy like you can say it! :-)"
Tom Venuto

Tom is the author of the highest selling fitness ebook of all time, Burn The Fat, and has helped thousands to get in the best shape of their lives. He is also a competitive bodybuilder who regularly steps on stage in with bodyfat in the low single digits. Like Arnold, Franco, Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler he does steady state cardio to get himself in that kind of shape; not intervals.

Tom talks the talk and walks the walk. Tom gets himself and all his clients and customers in mind blowing shape with lots of hard work and usually without the use of intervals. Although most people wouldn't expect Tom Venuto and I to agree on much, the fact of the matter is we agree on way more than you would assume.

That's the point most people miss. They are always looking for the differences instead of the similarities between coaches or trainers.

I spent the weekend with my close friend Alwyn Cosgrove and explained to him how I received a few emails from people who were bewildered by the fact that AC recommends intervals and I spoke out against them.

"I thought you guys were good friends."

Well, first of all, you can be friends with someone and disagree with their training philosophy. I never used to think this was possible but then I grew up and realized how ridiculous this thought process was. Secondly, you have to understand that the answer to every training related question is "It depends."

It depends on the athlete or lifter, training age, goals, injuries, experience, strength levels, etc, etc, etc.

So, as surprising as this may be to many people, Alwyn and I actually share many of the same thoughts on cardio and fat loss. When I presented a seminar to his staff at his gym earlier this year I was asked a question about what type of cardio to do in a certain situation to preserve muscle mass and when I said I wouldn't do intervals, no way, no how, everyone in the room gasped and looked in Alwyn's direction. Much to everyone's shock, AC told everyone that, in that situation, he agreed with me 100%.

And there are many situations where I agree with him. In fact, we agree on most training related issues, probably 99% of the time. But it's hard to express that across the internet. Unless you speak to both of us, many of you probably assume that we would disagree more often than agree. It's simply not the case.

Anyway, here's some more feedback on the intervals issue (my replies are in bold)...


I gotta say, very interesting point. I always wondered why authors use pictures of bodybuilders in their articles who DON'T train with intervals, etc.... strange how you would 'dog' their methods but yet exploit their bodies in your article... hmmm
Jimi Varner

Haven't you said before in men's fitness or one of your books that if one guys does intervals for 20 minutes after a weight training session and another guys does not, that the first guy will stay leaner?


Yeah, everything is rush, rush, rush anymore. Trainers try to sell you on the quick and easy method, when the smart money is always on slow and steady wins the race. There is no quick and easy way to get ripped and huge - if that were so, would we see fat people at every corner? I know the largerst excuse is: "There is not enough time in my day, I am too busy." I say bullshit ! Who does not have 20 minutes to set aside for cardio or a high intensity workout?? Get up earlier or stay up later, turn the TV off, put the video game down or whatever else you might do and pick up a weight instead. everybody can find 20-30 minutes.
Dave Z

I agree 100%.

Hi Jason, I understand what you say about intervals being over rated for fat loss, but what about using intervals for conditioning? I submission wrestle and train MMA the bouts are normally 5 minutes or there abouts and usually only a few rounds (at least at the amateur level) do you think intervals are useful for conditioning for this type of short duration activity?


I think varied intensity energy system training that mimics your sport is always very effective. I don't think intervals like they are recommended by many trainers for fat loss are very effective, though. Again, it depends on the situation. As an MMA competitor you would do best by doing sprints and strongman training and basically just getting on the mat. That is going to be your best form of "sport specific" conditioning.

Finally, I would like to share a brief video from my good friends Dave Tate and Jim Wendler. For those that don't know, Dave went from 310 pounds all the way down to somewhere around 240 and 4% bodyfat. It was one of the most impressive transformations I had ever seen. He never did intervals once.

Over the last year or two Jim has gone from 285 to 240 and, like Dave, never did interval training once. For a good laugh, check out the video below.

Gotta love it.