I was working away with a client last week when she asked me: “Is interval training better than longer cardio sessions?” Brilliant question and one that has been long been argued over for years.

There is no doubt that both types of exercise improve a number of important health and fitness markers including a decrease in blood pressure, metabolism improvement and increase in VO2 max. Beyond this, they can both have their benefits and drawbacks.

The burning question for many regular gym goers is which one should I be doing more of?

Just like nutrition, there is never a definite answer and it’s also not a one-size-fits-all. That’s not my attempt and trying to swerve the answer, but we have to look at a number of different parameters ­— goal, level of fitness, age and stress levels.

A few key distinctions to help you decide;

Steady state is simple, convenient and can be done anywhere; improves the aerobic system which is essential for digestion, breathing and everyday movement and can help reduce stress levels. It doesn’t, however, help build muscle, strength and power beyond a very low baseline level.

Interval training is more complex and challenging; produces an afterburn effect which promotes quicker fat loss results; workouts are done in a much quicker time period and can greatly improve your athletic performance. Challenges are it can be very taxing on the autonomic nervous system which can lead to anxiety-like symptoms, difficulty sleeping and it’s easy for people to overtrain using this method.

When it comes to deciding on which type of cardio is best for you, first understand what your goal is, then work from there.

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