Friday, April 25, 2008

Interval training and endurance

I mentioned this paper when it first came out - I even bought the whole thing so that I could read it hopefully learn something and attempt to say something useful.

Metabolic Adaptations to Short-term High-Intensity Interval Training: A Little Pain for a Lot of Gain?

I enjoyed reading the paper, but never got around to posting anything about it. Which in some ways is a blessing since I would probably have embarrassed my self with the some poor analysis. Anyway, Lyle McDonald - author of the Stubborn Fat Loss Solution that I have reviewed - has saved me the bother with an excellent post on his blog:

Research review: Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training

Summing up: There’s no doubt (and I haven’t intended to suggest otherwise) that high intensity interval training can have benefits. It’s time effective and may induce similar performance adaptations to longer duration traditional cardio. With regards endurance athletes, it’s clear that even short periods of low volume interval training can have rather large benefits for performance.

But with most of the benefits seeming to occur with only a handful of sessions per week (2-3 is the norm) and with benefits appearing to end fairly quickly (3-6 weeks), we might ask what a trainee should do when either

a. They need to train more frequently than that

b. They are looking at their training over a period longer than a few weeks. That is, if interval training stops providing benefits after 3-6 weeks, what should a trainee do for the remaining 46-49 weeks out of the year?

There is also the issue of how intervals integrate with training when OTHER TYPES OF TRAINING (e.g. weight training) are being done. That is, what happens if someone is training their legs heavily in the weight room twice/week. How realistic is it to then add high intensity interval training to that workload?

As well, what happens when someone (e.g. an athlete or obsessive exerciser) is trying to train daily? What happens then in terms of how they structure their week? If you take much of the current guru-speak (e.g. intervals are the only beneficial way to train) at face value, you end up developing a training week that no human being can survive.

This post is part of a really thought-provoking series that is challenging some of the dogma about intervals - dogma that to be honest I have been repeating on this blog. I'd recommend you to have a look at this series starting with this post: Steady State versus Interval Training

1 comment:

Phillip said... might want to check out . Endurance athletes have known for decades that intervals improve performance. But the benefits of intervals do level off. For health, intervals (Art DeVany) are enough. But for long term athletic performance (running or sport) more work is needed:


The VO2 max is only the 1st wave of change for the endurance athlete. VO2 max plateaus quite early in the career of an adult runner or cyclist who trains hard and regularly (though its exact value will undulate several % from off-season to competitive season). SO, we have to ask "I am no beginner, is hard interval training also the best approach to improving the other components of my performance?" "