Sprint training using various intensities and volumes provides a quick workout and has proven to be much more effective than aerobic training at inducing fat loss. Intervals also improve health markers such as insulin action and blood pressure.
You can easily fit a fifteen-minute interval conditioning session in at the end of your lift, or better yet, perform it as a short second workout to maximize fat burning, insulin sensitivity, and protein synthesis. Although all-out sprints can be mentally and physically challenging, maximal intensity intervals are not the only option to get results.
A study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine compared the effect of a slightly higher volume of moderate-intensity intervals with a low-volume all-out program. The following two protocols were tested on the cycle ergometer:
- A sprint protocol (SIT) at an all-out intensity for 30 seconds with 5 intervals per session and 4 minutes rest in between
- A moderate-intensity protocol (HIT) at about 80 percent of maximal for 30 seconds with 10 intervals per session and 2 minutes rest between intervals.
The participants were physically active college men and they performed their sprint workout 3 times a week for 4 weeks.
Results showed that both protocols are equally effective at inducing physiological improvements and improving aerobic and anaerobic energy use. Both groups had equal improvement in maximal oxygen uptake, muscle buffering capacity, and energy substrate use. They also both improved antioxidant biomarkers substantially, and had better mitochondrial enzyme content, which is associated with increased rate of fat burning once glycogen is depleted.
The choice to perform all-out sprints over high-intensity intervals is individual and based on personal motivation and training style—do you prefer short and super hard, or a little longer and less difficult?
Also, consider getting a training partner who is equally matched or a little faster and in slightly better shape—you can push each other, and having someone to train with will improve motivation on days when a mentally challenging workout seems too much.
Remember, you will feel better afterwards and the benefits are enormous!