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Wednesday, March 31. 2021
The NYT warns about doing too much. I don't think that is much of an issue for 99.99% of people.
People who do Soul Cycle and similar programs, if done daily, might exceed those sprint warnings - if you believe them. Still, sprinting is like flying. It feels good.
As we have discussed before, HIIT is true Cardio exercise, meaning that it is designed to stress, not just use, the heart muscle. The goals are to improve or maintain heart function and to increase your odds of surviving your first unfortunate "cardic event" by developing collateral blood supply.
As we have also discussed here, it is sprints which have this effect. Exertions commonly grouped as "cardio" - like biking, swimming laps, jogging, rowing - are worth doing to maintain general endurance but do not get the heart rate to the 70-90% max that efficiently stresses the heart to the point of heart muscle development. Same idea as curls for the biceps.
Assuming you have a well-balanced fitness program (weights, calisthenics, and both types of cardio), two 20-minute sessions/wk of HIIT is good. Most calisthenics circuits include bits of HIIT too, such as speed rope, heavy ropes, or row sprints.
Obviously, all of this depends on age and level of fitness.
What is a typical 20-30-minute HIIT session? It's 30-60-sec. all-out sprints followed by 60-80 seconds of slow recovery. Rinse and repeat. The sprints are anaerobic.
The way I do it is to include sprints in one weights recovery day, which is like an hour of treadmill jogging, fast-walking, or elliptical, interspersing sprints in it. It keeps it interesting. On another day, I do 20-min of HIIT and then 30 minutes of weights or accesssory weights. You do not need to monitor your heart rate, because you know dqrn well when you are going all-out.
What is cardio? And what is the difference between cardio and high intensity interval training? And why is there a place for both? That piece is reasonable, but seems to assume that the only fitness exercise anybody does is "cardio." That is surely better than nothing but it is not a balanced fitness routine.
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I like pushing the prowler for all the reasons given here: Conditioning Modalities for Masters with Jonathon Sullivan.
“Exertions commonly grouped as "cardio" - like biking, swimming laps, jogging, rowing - are worth doing to maintain general endurance but do not get the heart rate to the 70-90% max that efficiently stresses the heart to the point of heart muscle development.”
Yes, they do get the heart rate to 70-90%, unless you’re doing them wrong.
A healthy 60 year old has a theoretical heart rate max of 220-60 or 160, and 80% of 160 is 128. This is very easy to do on a bike, and it’s easy to hit 145-160 if you push yourself a bit. I’ve done it myself, regularly. Everyone I see on bikes at the health club, ditto. With running, it’s even easier, especially “real” running outside on roads. Swimming, ditto.
Even for a 30 year old, same story, except the max is 190 and 80% of 190 is 152. Maybe a little harder to hit with biking, but not that much, and not at all hard to hit with running.
As for developing the heart and cardiovascular system, the science on heart and cardiovascular development from steady state aerobic exercise for 20 minutes or more is old and well-established, with large improvements in heart muscle development, red blood cell oxygen carrying capacity, lung capacity, capillary network expansion to serve muscle tissue better, resting pulse and pulse under load plus ability to tolerate those loads for extended periods, etc.
Everyone who has ever taken up running knows all this, intuitively. Same with swimming and biking. That’s a lot of people, yet you claim they did not strengthen their hearts at all?! Simply untrue.
Interval training has its place, but it’s just false to claim that steady state aerobic training such as running 6 miles in 39 minutes, 5-6x a week for several months, doesn’t develop the cardiovascular system, including the heart. I’ve done it, and so have millions of other people.
The advantage of HIIT over steady state training (or LSD, long, slow, distance) is that, being high intensity, it stresses, and thereby develops and improves, all three of the body's main energy systems; ATP-PC (creatine phosphate), Lactic (anaerobic glycolysis), and Aerobic, all at the same time. Lower intensity doesn't do that because not all systems are stressed. Not that lower intensity doesn't develop the cardiovascular system, because of course it does, but HIIT is more efficient. Bicycle sprints will help you better your century ride time, but the LSD you also put in won't help much in your sprints. Kinda like how squats will help your burpees, but not the other way around.
These guys explain it better than I can: Death By Prowler.
It also does not beat the hell out of your joints the way running does. The US Army took both the fun and ability out of running for me but the prowler rocks.
It may be “more efficient” but there’s two major problems with HIIT from the perspective of those who like steady state exercise: it does not generate the endorphins that steady state does, and it works the body a lot harder, ie it’s unpleasant hard work that cannot physically be done for very long or very often, which means it cannot really serve as the foundation for any exercise program.
Swimming, biking, and running can all be done for long periods and as a result, do generate those endorphins, and can easily be the foundation of a good cardio-based exercise program, as millions of people can attest.
As Dr. Sullivan says in the video I linked to in my first comment: "Do what you WILL do, what you CAN do, and what you will TOLERATE." But try and push yourself now and then.
I like riding my mountain bike a lot more than I do pushing a prowler, but the prowler just takes two 20-40 sessions a week. I can tolerate that as I know it helps my cycling.
Looks like we agree on some things after all.
While “cardio” Trasti going does have cardiac effects, many of the benefits occur elsewhere, i.e. in the energy systems, but most people don’t consider where these improvements happen - in the skeletal muscle tissue itself (specifically, the mitochondria).
Likewise, heavy resistance training has effects not only on the skeletal musculature, but also on cardiac muscle (and the body’s blood vessels)...unfortunately, not all of it is good.
So, cardio affects skeletal muscles and skeletal muscle (resistance) training affects the heart. And each type of training can have positive and negative effects on the system we think we are training as well as the other system. Trade offs exist and intelligent program design considers the pros and cons both in terms of short term effects as well as long term effects.
Just curious if you think my routine meets the HITT criteria. On a weekly basis, three days of tennis drills for points, two on one or doubles 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Three days of pickup soccer, two days with the old guys, 50 and up and one with a mixed age group. Both these activities involve sprint intervals as part of the run of play. Age 74.
I'm wondering if I can get a workout similar to the "Prowler" by pushing a kayak over the sand at the beach? Seems worth a shot; any thoughts about that?
Of course! The easiest is pushing your car on a flat road, my US Tahoe...no my Euro Fiat actually better than a prowler but you’ve given me an idea with the kayak...gracias.
To RJP at 20:01 and others:
I’m not arguing against the idea that everyone should push themselves sometimes, especially those who strive for excellence or compete in triathalons and such. Of course. As I said in my first comment, “Interval training has its place”. Most people should at least try it and then decide if it works for them or not, tweak it a bit, etc.
My point is that this blog is always offering advice about cardio that is incomplete, medically incorrect and so misleading it is damaging, and that this is a disservice to all.
It is important to acknowledge that the type of exercise that people like enough to do thousands of times is a far more complicated stew than what this trainer says or what that study says. There are psychological, emotional and brain chemistry factors too. One easy example that is never talked about on this blog: for those who do steady state aerobic exercise, the endorphin flood that helps them navigate their day and deal with stress is almost certainly a big reason why they do it in the first place, whether they realize it or not. That entire angle is never even discussed here, as if it doesn’t exist. You’re kidding yourselves and everyone who reads you by ignoring that.
Finally, an imperfect exercise you will actually do is infinitely better than a perfect one that you won’t.