High Intensity Training > Sprint Interval Training

Q&A: Combining High Intensity Training and Sprint Interval Training

Question: I am an avid fan of Arthur Jones and have almost all his books, I do train alone and started the big five exercises recently, and I do supplement peak 8 cardio workouts with a bowflex max trainer. The reason I do this is because of something Clarence Bass touched on which I think is true for people who train without that push from a personal trainer which Dr Ellington has also commented on about people not have a personal trainer to push them. I think the HIT cardio fills that gap. Love your work.

Bass comments on fast intense HIT workouts for cardio benefit:

“Perhaps not, but the question remains whether an appreciable number of people are willing—or able—to push themselves that hard without Arthur or the military driving them to the outer limits of effort, workout after workout. Proper Strength Training may be the most efficient way to build strength and endurance simultaneously—but what difference does it make if serious strength trainers are unwilling to keep doing it. Surely, it isn’t a viable approach for lifetime fitness.”

“I believe it makes more sense—and is more practical—to rest as long as necessary between sets to exert maximum effort on each strength movement—and then do brief, whole-body, high-intensity intervals or sprints to build and maintain cardiovascular fitness. You can combine the two forms of training or do them in separate workouts. That’s my approach.”

“Jones freely admitted that few people would train as he recommended without his hobnail boots urging them on. He never trained that way for very long.”

Answer: I’ve read most of Clarence Bass’ books and many of his articles and I like him and agree with a lot of things he’s said, but he’s wrong about this. While the results you get from exercise are proportional to how intensely you train and most people won’t train as intensely on their own as they will with a good personal trainer or training partner, it is not necessary to strength train with the absolute maximum intensity of effort humanly possible to effectively improve your cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning. You just have to consistently train hard enough to place a greater demand on your muscles and the supporting systems than they are accustomed to, and the longer you do this the better you get at it. Over the past two decades I’ve received e-mails from thousands of people who were able to accomplish this following the guidelines in my books and articles without a trainer pushing them through their workouts and without additional “cardio” sessions.

High Intensity Training > Sprint Interval Training

While moving quickly between exercises can help you maintain an elevated heart rate throughout your workout, research comparing sprint interval training to traditional endurance training shows this is not necessary to improve your cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning. As long as you create enough of a metabolic and cardiovascular demand during each exercise it doesn’t appear to matter if you rest for a few minutes in between, and properly performed compound exercises do this as effectively as sprints or better with less wear on your joints and lower risk of injury.

Even if you do move quickly between exercises and cumulative systemic fatigue reduces the loads you are able to use for subsequent exercises you can still train with the same relative intensity of effort, which is more important than load for stimulating increases in muscular strength and size.

Resting longer between exercises may favor muscular strength and size gains over cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, and rushing between exercises may do the opposite, but as long as you are training intensely enough either method is more effective, more efficient, and safer for your joints in the long run than performing separate sprint interval training sessions for cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning. Because of this a proper high intensity training program is not only a viable approach for lifetime fitness, it is the best approach.

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