Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Truth About Intervals
The simple truth about intervals is this- they suck. You want evidence that they
suck? Let's take a look at the leanest people on the planet.
First we have competitive bodybuilders. None of them do intervals. Never have
never will. They all do steady state cardio. Some do high intensity, some do low
intensity. But none of them ever do intervals.
How about sprinters? They sprint. Then they rest. For a long time; not 30-60
seconds. How long do they sprint for? Usually about ten seconds at the most. A
100 meter dash takes an elite sprinter about ten seconds to compete. And after
they do that they are completely gassed and need at least 3 minutes rest before
they can repeat the effort.
What about wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs? Anyone see Reggie
Bush on the cover of the most recent Men's Fitness with no shirt on? How about
Terrel Owens on the cover of Sports Illustrated last year? These are physiques
that most people would kill for.
Do they do intervals?
They sprint and then they rest. They do plyos and conditioning drills and
practice plays. None of which resemble intervals in the least.
None of the leanest people in the world do intervals yet it is supposed to be
the greatest method of fat loss. Kind of puzzling if you ask me.
The general recommendation for intervals is to use a bike or a treadmill and
"sprint" for 30-60 seconds followed by a coasting period of 60-120 seconds. Now
let's get one thing straight right out the gate before you blow out a knee or
tear a hamstring. No one, and I mean NO ONE, that is not a very well conditioned
athlete can sprint for 30-60 seconds. NO ONE!
Try it and you will find that out for yourself. You will probably also get
If Olympic sprinters are gassed after a ten second sprint how do think the
average person can possibly sprint for six times that length of time? I know I
Intervals are harder to recover from then steady state cardio or short distance
sprints with adequate rest periods. This means they will interfere with your
size and strength gains. I have seen it happen time and again. Depending on who
you ask, they can also actually be more catabolic than steady state cardio.
If you are looking to get bigger and stronger while maintaining your bodyfat
levels or even simultaneously get leaner, you should probably avoid doing too
many intervals. Instead stick with short sprints or old school steady state
cardio (just be sure to mix it up and add in as much variety as possible like
running, biking, rope jumping, hiking, etc.). It has worked for the leanest
athletes on the planet for decades so I can assure you that it will work for
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