With spring and summer approaching and the weather finally becoming better than terrible its time to see people doing everything they can to shed those extra pounds and tighten things up a little bit. In doing so, most people take to the track, the roads, a treadmill, or an elliptical and perform 30, 45, even a full hour of LSD (long slow distance) steady state type cardio. But the question is, does LSD steady state cardio really help you drop those extra pounds and tighten things up, and if it does, is it the most effective way to do so?
To answer the question, I’d say yes and no (I know, sounds like I’m riding the fence on this). Does LSD shed those extra pounds and tighten you up…yes if its coupled with a healthy diet the long 30-60 minute sessions on the treadmill or track will indeed help you to drop some unwanted weight. However, in my opinion, as well as results of current research, LSD steady state is NOT the most effective way to drop those unwanted pounds and tighten up. Enter interval training.
Simply put, interval or HIIT (high intensity interval training) trumps LSD steady state on so many levels with research supporting these claims. Bouts of high intensity (sprinting) followed by bouts of low intensity (walking) at a 1:4 or 1:3 ratio for 10-15 minutes is all you need. Head out to a local football field, track, or even treadmill during the cold winter seasons and sprint, all out, for 15 seconds followed by a 45 second walk or even just waiting for the next interval. After 10-15 minutes, you’ll a) be completely gassed, b) done with any cardio training while everyone else is still humping away, and c) think your heart is going to jump out of your chest.
I do however want to stress that I don’t think LSD cardio is bad or wrong, interval training is just more effective and much less time consuming. Would performing LSD a couple times a week be a bad thing, no. If you decide that after work on a nice spring/summer day you want to go for a jog, do it. It’s not going to hurt you and it gets you up and burning some calories as opposed to sitting and watching tv and stuffing your face. But, if your performing LSD cardio 4-6 days a week, I’d tell you that your wasting your time. If your goal is to live a stronger, healthier life, I just encourage you to add some interval training to your workout to see even greater results both from a cardiovascular/health standpoint and a body compositional standpoint. If LSD is something that you want to continue to do, I would recommend 2 days at most coupled with another 2 days of interval training. I personally perform 1-2 LSD steady state sessions a week for about 20 minutes while performing 2-3 HIIT sessions a week that last anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
In ending, I leave you with this, a little anecdotal evidence for those that are still a little skeptical. Forget any of the research, forget my opinion and let your eyes do the work. Here is a side to side picture of a typical marathon runner who performs primarily LSD steady state cardio and a sprinter who would typically perform primarily interval (HIIT) training workouts.
You tell me…who looks like the stronger, healthier athlete?