Low-intensity cardiovascular exercise only burns calories while you are actually exercising. That means the moment you stop exercising, your caloric expenditure goes back down to nearly baseline levels. Within minutes, you’re not burning many more calories than if you hadn’t done anything at all.
High-intensity interval training, on the other hand, continues to boost your metabolism long after you’re done (often up to 24 hours after, depending on the length and intensity of the training session). This means you’re continuing to burn many more calories all day long!
Low-intensity exercise does nothing to build or support muscle mass. Maintaining muscle mass is critical to an effective fat-loss strategy as muscle burns fat just sitting there. Want to keep your metabolism working to burn fat? Do whatever you can to build or keep your muscle tissue.
High-intensity interval training has the potential to increase muscle mass. Compare the body of a top sprinter to a top marathon runner. The sprinter carries far more muscle mass. You won’t get big bulky muscles from high-intensity training but you will get shapely and more defined muscles!
High-intensity interval training can be applied to any form of cardiovascular exercise. Anything from walking/sprinting to swimming to bike riding will work perfectly. I recommend doing his type of training 2 to 3 times per week for best results. As always, be sure to consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.
Author: Josh Palmer, Ridge Fitness Director and Personal Trainer