Cardio vs Intervals for Fat Loss and Fitness

July 26, 2011

I wrote a weekly newsletter for the gym today, the topic being one that seems to be getting a lot of attnetion recently, so I thought I’d share it here also.

Here’s my (and the take on conventional cardio vs intervals for fat loss:

“We’ll lay our cards on the table from the off on this one: we’re not fans of long, slow, distance aerobic training.  For absolutely no other reason than because it’s inferior to interval training for 99% of people, and their increased fitness and fat loss goals.

Don’t get us wrong, we work with several endurance folk and one of our team is about to compete in an Ironman event for the second time, so we’re hardly a bunch of knuckle-dragging half-wits who ‘don’t do cardio’.  It’s just interval training yields better results in terms of both fitness and fat loss, so thats what we use.

So does this mean we’ve all been lied to?  Inadvertently, yes.  The cardio revolution was another big 1980’s mistake (add to it feathered hair, cut-off rock band t-shirts and a host of others) which the media ran with (sorry…..), and which we all went along with because a) it’s easy to implement, and b) you can get good at it relatively quickly.

Interval training on the other hand is hard.  Typically much harder than conventional cardio.  And you can constantly change the variables so that you never get good at it, which unfortunately is perhaps the key concept with fat loss: we need to create the most metabolic disturbance, or inefficiency,as possible for the best results.  (Or, do the stuff you’re not good at if you want to lose fat!).

As for as increasing fitness, interval training develops aerobic capacity (fitness) better than aerobic training itself and it will do far more for general fitness than conventional cardio will ever do.  Thats a fact.  And it’s why interval training is an integral part of every long distance athlete’s conditioning program (to increase their fitness).

Bottom line: if you’re a long distance runner or cyclist, run and cycle slowly for long distances.  But if your goal is fat loss, increased general fitness, or both, embrace interval training.


  1. bubble shooter - January 12, 2012 at 8:05 am -

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  2. Jayeeta - March 8, 2012 at 4:46 am -

    I don’t know how much yours would cost per hour, it definatly raeivs by how known and expirienced they are and where you’re located. What I do know is that everyone I’ve talked to including myself say that their personal trainers only parrot the same fitness advice they’ve already read and diet advice they’ve been taught in school. A really good trainer is good at motivating the client and inspiring them to make the desigion to work hard and get in shape. Because in the end, its really up to the person doing the workout. Its really hard to find one that didn’t just get into it for the money though to be honest, because its a booming business. To find a good one you’ll have to find one thats highly reccomended from many clients and has good reviews, really do your homework. The good ones are usually expensive though.