New Research on High Intensity Interval Training

Striking a Better Balance

Today I want to share an important piece of research regarding high intensity interval training.

I’ve said in the past that higher intensities will always burn more calories. But, in my opinion, the Tabata-style workout has been overrated and over-promoted to the masses. You can see my notes on that here.

Now that the fitness industry is coming down off the high and the fads created

from initial studies on Tabata, further studies are revealing the benefits of a more balanced approach to exercise (like I always recommend).

This recent study

sponsored by the American Council on Exercise put fifty-five relatively sedentary, individuals through one of three programs, three times per week for eight weeks:

  1. Twenty minutes of continuous, vigorous exercise
  2. Four minutes of Tabata exercise or
  3. Twenty minutes of moderate intensity interval training

All groups improved in power and oxygen capacity, and no one group improved significantly more than the other.

The study also measured the “enjoyment factor”

and found the most intense exercise (Tabata) was enjoyed the least. In fact, the enjoyment factor for all three of these intense exercise sessions lessened over time.

The researchers shared an important observation:

that “regardless of how effective an exercise training program might be, adherence over any meaningful period of time is unlikely in programs that are not enjoyable.” Therefore, “identifying the most enjoyable program, rather than the most effective one, could be an important focus of future research.”

This is one of the many reasons why I advocate

a mixture of high, medium, and low intensities throughout the week. (I go for a balance of effective and enjoyable.)

You can see a fuller synopsis of the study here.