Regular Aerobic Endurance Training Versus Short Duration High Intensity Interval Training


For most of my life I did a lot of aerobic training in the form of long distance running. I even ran across Canada and the United States with five of my six children, in relay fashion, averaging about a half marathon per day for 7 months. I think it`s fair to say that I understand what it means to run long distances and the effects this has on the body. It was a fantastic experience, which I will cherish for the rest of my life but not one I wish to repeat.

The training that I do now is totally opposite to what I did in the past and I would like to explain why I changed. I am always researching the best ways to maintain good health and an ideal weight. Since all the latest research studies pointed to high intensity interval training as the best way to burn fat and improve metabolic function within the body I decided to give it a try; especially after reading the results of a Canadian study which was conducted at Laval University in Quebec. Dr. Angelo Tremblay, Ph.D. and his colleagues at the Physical Activities Sciences Laboratory compared the fat loss results from medium intensity aerobic exercises and high intensity interval aerobic/anaerobic training.

They created two study groups from a sample of 27 inactive, healthy, non-obese adults, aged from 18 to 32 years old; 13 men and 14 women. One group was subjected to a 21-week endurance training program of uninterrupted cycling 4 or 5 times per week for 30 to 45 minutes. The intensity level began at 60% of heart rate and progressed to 85%; for a 30 year old, this means starting at a heart rate of about 136 bpm and progressing to roughly 170 bpm, which is quite intense.

The other group did a 15 week program of high intensity interval training, which consisted initially of 10 to 15 bouts of 15 second high intensity exercise with a recovery period in between bouts. This progressed to 10 to 15 bouts of 30 second exercises, or 4 to 5 bouts of 60 to 90 second exercises, all at high intensity and with a recovery period in between. The total time of intense exercise was about 4 to 5 minutes.

You would think that the group who did 30 to 45 minutes of endurance training burned a lot more fat than the group who did a total of just 4 to 5 minutes during the interval exercises. The actual results showed that the endurance training group used up more than twice the number of calories than the interval training group, but the interval training group lost 9 times more subcutaneous fat during the 15 weeks than the other group during 21 weeks.

Even though the interval training group burned less than half the calories during the short bursts of exercise, their metabolism was raised substantially so that they metabolized 9 times more fat. Dr. Tremblay`s team took muscle biopsies and measured muscle enzyme activity to determine why high intensity interval training produced so much more fat loss. They found that metabolic adaptations from the high Intensity interval training raises total muscle metabolism to a higher level than regular endurance exercise. This is why I switched my training regimen to doing high intensity interval training 5 times per week, and I love the results it provides for me. I spend less time and I feel great.

In future articles we will explore in more details the hormonal responses from exercise and diet, and help you to understand the best ways to lose fat and improve your longevity.


Dr. Ed Chicoine, Chiropractor


The information provided is for education purposes only. It`s not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition. If you have health problems, please consult with your doctor or other health professional before you make any major changes in your lifestyle.