Extending your intervals with steady-state cardio

February 16, 2009 at 10:35 pm 6 comments

This week I saw a very good article on interval training on the Precision Nutrition blog written by the strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle. You can access it here and just scroll down to the relevant bit. While very informative and well researched, I’m getting a bit sick of all the stick that the elliptical gets. For the less fit client, like me, it is a good starting place. Plus, if you have knee problems, like me, it is a good low-impact form of cardio. I know the bike is too, but I loathe the bike. I never learned to ride as a kid and I guess I just never developed the right sitting-on-a-saddle muscles. I just find it absolutely excruciating.

Still on the theme of intervals, if you’ve ever gotten to the end of your interval training workout and thought that you had enough left in you to do some more cardio, but maybe not at the same intensity, here is a great tip for extending your interval training session with steady-state cardio. (This is not to suggest that after my intervals on the elliptical my heart is not pumping at a mile a minute and I am not dripping with sweat – don’t tell me I’m nor working hard enough!!) This tip comes from the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler, Cassandra Forsythe and Alwyn Cosgrove.

Rather than just shifting straight into steady-state mode, get off the machine (or take a rest if you are working-out freestyle) for five minutes, then continue your workout with steady-paced exercise at an easy pace. The reason for this is that the intervals have used up some of the glycogen in your muscles and stopping exercise causes your body to flood your bloodstream with triglycerides. Women’s bodies tend to use triglycerides for energy more than men’s. When you start up again, you’ll have a ready pool of fat molecules to fuel your steady-state workout to increase the rate of fat burning. Cool or what?

Steady-state cardio is getting a bit of a bum rap at the moment, with many of the big name muscle people slating it as a fitness option. Certainly intervals are more efficient, and more productive in terms of improving fitness levels, but you can only keep them up for so long, and if you are out of shape and overweight, adding a bit of extra cardio is no bad thing in my opinion. And although aerobic exercise like steady-state cardio is catabolic, as opposed to weight training which is anabolic, unless you are training for a body building competition, I really can’t see that an extra mile on the treadmill every day is going to derail your attempts to shape up. I find it completely counter-intuitive. One of the reasons I like Tom Venuto is his rather more sensible approach to cardio, i.e. just do some. Yes, intervals are ideal, but he’s not precious about it like some of the other experts. I am currently doing the exercise programme from Tom’s new book – The Body Fat Solution. So I’m doing interval training three times a week, and in addition, I am doing steady-state cardio as often as I can manage on top of that, not as an alternative. And weights of course, three times a week. I’ll write more about the book later in the week.


Entry filed under: exercise, fat loss, heath and fitness, interval training, Precision Nutrition, Tom Venuto, weight loss.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Eric Troy  |  February 17, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Nice post. I agree.

    I just want to throw this out there.

    I noticed that Mike Boyle (whom I think the world of) was imagining himself a fat loss expert and then mentioning the “training” aspects of Turbulence Training and Cosgrove’s Afterburn…both of which derive their concepts from the same idea (but I prefere Turbulence Training as far as real world fat-loss).

    BUT, and this is a big but, a fat-loss expert who mentions training FIRST without ever mentioning DIET is NOT a fat loss expert. You cannot work off a bad diet.

    Many of these strength and conditioning coaches seem to be wanting to cash in on the fat-loss market but they are simply regurgitating other people’s work when it comes to diet.

    Training for fat-loss ain’t rocket science. You don’t need a whole book to cover that. Getting people to learn to change their lifestyle in a sustainable way is what you need a book for.

  • 2. blubberbegone  |  February 17, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for the approbation. I was just writing that post late last night and I got a bit carried away with the ranting! But really, these guys try and convince you that if you’re going to do steady-state cardio you may as well go out and inhale half a dozen BigMacs for all the harm you’re doing to your weight loss efforts. It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

  • 3. Eric Troy  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:22 am

    A lot of this kind of attitude, I think comes from a reverse bodybuilding kind of thing. Bodybuilders (and strength people to some extent) are paranoid about losing lean mass and think if they even look at a treadmill or something they will go catabolic, etc. and so on.

    A lot of these people (including Tom Venuto but as you say…he’s sensible) are coming from a bodybuilding world and are used to trying to coddle this type of mentality. This is why I used the phrase “real world fat loss”. Yes, people should be concerned with “fat loss” and not “weight loss” and preserving lean mass is VERY important (hence resistance training) but it’s not like every one is getting ready to strip down to their speedos and step on the Olympia stage.

  • 4. Cynthia  |  February 18, 2009 at 6:20 am

    That’s interesting about the triglycerides. Something I didn’t know. Well, often enough, I do have a little left after interval training, at least if I’m taking a five minute rest I do! I’m notorious for getting a second wind. So yeah, I’ll try this.

    Personally, I think the rant is reasonable. You gotta question things sometimes.

  • 5. multimedialearningllc  |  July 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Steady state cardio is essential if you are training to be a better runner. Pounding out those miles is the only way I know to improve your running. Interval running training will help your speed but not replace putting in the miles.

    • 6. blubberbegone  |  July 18, 2009 at 8:45 pm

      Interval training increases your anaerobic threshold, enabling you to runner harder and longer before hitting that lactate overload thing.

      As for training to be a better runner – it depends what kind of a runner you want to be. There are numerous people on the TT forums who have performed their first 5K races with no training beyond their intervals and no distance training at all. I don’t know if this would work for longer distances, such as a 10K, and I don’t know if anybody has done any research on this. For longer distances, like marathons, you are no doubt right. One day, when I can run for more than 3 minutes continuously and feel more qualified to comment, I may have a bit more to say about that! LOL.

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Blubberbegone Stats

  • Start: 16 stone, 45.7% body fat
  • Goal: 10 stone, 20% body fat
  • Today: 14 stone 13.6 lbs, 44.8% BF
  • Pounds lost: 14.4
  • Body fat lost: 0.9%
  • Exercise this week (Sat–Fri):
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  • Exercise last week: 4 hrs 40 mins
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    My Weight Loss Goals

  • 1. Crack 15 stone (210 lbs) for the fourth and final (I hope) time.
  • 2. Lose 10% of my body fat (14 stone 4).
  • 3. Fit into a size 18 (US 16).
  • 4. Get my body fat below 40%
  • 5. Lose another 10% of my body fat (12 stone 12/180 lbs).
  • 6. Get my BMI under 30 (12 stone 9/177 lbs) - no longer obese, just overweight now.
  • 7. Weigh less than my husband.
  • 8. Fit into a size 16 (US 14).
  • 9. Lose my third 10% (11 stone 8/162 lbs).
  • 10. Fit into a size 14 (US 12).
  • 11. Get my BMI under 25 (10 stone 8/148 lbs).
  • 12. Lose my fourth 10% (10 stone 6/ 146 lbs).
  • 13. Fit into a size 12 (US 10).
  • 14. Reach my goal weight (10 stone) and decide if I need to lose any more based on my muscularity and shape.
  • 15. Turn heads in a bikini!
  • My Fitness Goals for 2011

  • 1. Increase my cruising walking speed from around 5.0kph to 6.4kph.
  • 2. Increase continuous jogging time to 30 mins.
  • 3. Run a 5K for charity.
  • 4. Work on my crawl stroke and build up to 30 mins continuous swimming.
  • 5. Build up to 1 hour continuous and comfortable cycling.
  • 6. Squat 50kg.
  • 7. Do an unassisted chin up.
  • 8. Take a martial arts or self-defence class for at least 3 months.
  • 9. Beat my husband at badminton.
  • 10. Learn a new dance style.
  • My Blubber Reduction Journey

  • My highest measured weight ever:
  • Jan 1 2006 = 238 lbs (17 stone)
  • BBG blog starting weight:
  • Sep 16 2007 = 215.5 lbs (15 stone 5.5), 47.0% BF Lean body mass 114.2 lbs (8 stone 2.2)
  • Highest weight posted since then:
  • Xmas 2008 = 223.6 lbs (15 stone 13.6), 48.2% BF, lean body mass 116.0 lbs (8 stone 4)
  • Lowest weight posted since then:
  • Nov 16 2009 = 193.2 lbs (13 stone 11.2), 43.7% BF, lean body mass 108.8 lbs (7 stone 10.8)
  • Lowest body fat posted since then:
  • Sep 7 2009 = 194.2 lbs (13 stone 12.2), 42.6% BF, lean body mass 111.5 lbs (7 stone 13.5)
  • My blubber reduction journey 2011:
  • Xmas 2010 = 221.6 lbs, 46.7% BF, 118.1 lbs LBM
  • 5 Jan = 221.0 lbs, 47.1% BF
  • 12 Jan = 219.6 lbs, 45.8% BF
  • 19 Jan = 220.4 lbs, 45.8% BF (TTOM)
  • 26 Jan = 218.8 lbs, 45.2% BF
  • 2 Feb = 218.8 lbs, 44.7% BF
  • 9 Feb = 219.4 lbs, 44.9% BF
  • 16 Feb = 215.8 lbs, 44.6% BF
  • 23 Feb = 213.2 lbs, 45.2% BF
  • 2 Mar = 211.6 lbs, 45.9% BF
  • 9 Mar = 209.8 lbs, 45.1% BF
  • 16 Mar = 208.8 lbs, 45.3% BF
  • 23 Mar = 208.0 lbs, 45.1% BF
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  • 20 Apr = 207.6 lbs, 43.3% BF
  • 27 Apr = 205.0 lbs, 45.8% BF
  • 4 May = 209.2 lbs, 45.2% BF (TTOM)
  • No. weeks: 18
  • Average weekly weight loss: 0.31%
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