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Interval Training Vs Long Distance Cardio

It’s pretty much an age old debate that will go on for the foreseeable future; which is better for you, high intensity training or the good old fashioned long distance running? For those that are unaware, high intensity training (HIIT) consists of short periods of high intensity exercise, followed by longer periods of low intensity exercise, for example, a 10 second all out sprint, followed by a 30 second walk or jog for a total of ten minutes or so. This is in comparison to the tried and tested method of simply running at a constant pace for a set period of time. Now both have their good and bad points and the question to really ask is – what is your goal? For those wanting to run a marathon or take part in a 5km or 10km race, constant long distance cardio is probably the way forward as it best emulates what you will be doing on the day of your race i.e. running at a steady pace for a certain distance. Therefore, the best way to gain this kind of fitness needed is to do the long distance cardio. However, males and females involved in other sports such as Rugby, Netball or Tennis could benefit more from a workout that incorporates HIIT as it best emulates the kind of exercise they will be doing i.e. start stop exercise. A rugby player is never constantly on the move during a game, there are periods where a penalty is called or where they don’t have the ball and so for them the game is very much stop start. They get the ball and sprint and pass, or sprint and tackle or simply sprint and score the try, start stop, start stop. Therefore HIIT training could be great for them as they develop the kind of fitness needed for their sport, as well as building lean muscle and reducing body fat which sprinting has been shown to do. Long distance cardio can also take a lot longer for the same effects. A 10 minute HIIT workout of sprints and jogs has been shown to burn more calories than a 30 minute steady jog, and has also been shown to increase general fitness significantly quicker than long distance cardio. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice and some exercise is better than no exercise at all! It’s dependant on your personal goals and preferred way of training and both have their plus and negative points. All running is good running and all exercise will get your fitter and healthier in the long run.

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