Thursday, April 21, 2011

Research Into The Negative Effects Of Aerobic Training, And The Superiority Of Interval Training.

Please excuse the tedium of simply putting up a blog with research articles in it, but as per my blog yesterday on my philosophy, and my blog the other week on running, I thought it best to make sure my references were in order.  Eric Cressey put out a blog today on why your (my) fitness blog/s might not be getting the hits and have the readership, from this I extrapolated "why people might not listen to me". It could be due to my content; if I want you to listen to what I have to say, I have to make sure my content is appropriate, well sourced, and pleasing to read. I admit, I may not have done this correctly thus far. Some of these references are from other blogs I've done on this subject, I've since removed them, sourced them accurately here, and put them all together, that I might convince even the most ardent skeptic, that I at least have evidence for my position.

It's worth putting in a caveat here, when I use the term "aerobic work" I'm referring to continuous, long distance walking and/or running. Though aerobic interval training is useful, it is still inferior to anaerobic interval training (from now on referred to as: HIIT) and as Cosgrove suggests (below) should only be done if you have time after doing metabolic resistance training and HIIT. I would be willing to concede that there is evidence that aerobic work has resulted in fat loss, but that is nullified by the fact that it takes longer training sessions to gain an effect, something that should already discount it as a fat loss tool (think of a 15 minute HIIT session versus a 45min running one). Due to the continuous and repetitive nature of aerobic exercise it is more likely to cause injury than short duration, high intensity work (though not necessarily). HIIT raises metabolism and does not reduce muscle mass (whereas aerobic work can) and finally HIIT is simply better at increasing overall fitness and fat loss (it is even suggested in studies below that it is great for increasing aerobic fitness). The only times I would suggest aerobic work is in the cases of: beginners, injured individuals (in the sense of: stroke victims, individuals prior joint/muscle injury) etc. For healthy individuals with a base level of fitness, HIIT is more effective in almost every way.  I've covered much of this in another blog, but I wanted to put it altogether and perhaps explain more eloquently my position.

I think this blog establishes my argument, it establishes my evidential basis for this tentatively held acceptance of the inferiority of aerobic training and the superiority of HIIT. Anyone who wants to disagree and wants to convince me of their position has a heavy burden of proof to meet, they have to demonstrate to me a valid argument that overcomes its 4 main faults and HIIT's success in them:
1.- Extended time of training sessions.
2. -Propensity for increased likelihood of injury.
3. -Decreases in muscle mass.
4. -Ineffectiveness as a fat loss tool.

Articles from Strength coaches (containing studies)

Alpert K., Getting Maximum Results Part I - Alternatives to Aerobics-Six Reasons Why Aerobic Work is Counterproductive. Retrieved 21/04/2011.

Alpert K., Getting Maximum Results Part II - Alternatives to Aerobics- Alternative Exercise Strategies to Help You Break Through a Plateau. Retrieved 21/04/2011.

Boyle M., (2008). Death to Long Slow Distance.

Boyle M., (2008). Interval Training. Retrieved 21/04/2011.

Cosgrove A,. (2010). Hierarchy Of Fat Loss.
Cosgrove A,. (2011). New Studies on the Afterburn Effect. Retrieved 21/04/2011

Cosgrove A,. (2010). Training techniques to maximise fatloss. Retrieved 21/04/2011.

Aerobic work is ineffective
Knechtle B., Knechtle P., (1994). [Run across Switzerland--effect on body fat and muscle mass]. Praxis. 96(8):281-6.
Scharhag-Rosenberger F., Meyer T., Walitzek S., Kindermann W., (2010). Effects of one year aerobic endurance training on resting metabolic rate and exercise fat oxidation in previously untrained men and women. Metabolic endurance training adaptations. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 31(7):498-504.

Van Aggel-Leijssen D.P., Saris W.H., Hul G.B., Van Baak M.A., (2001). Long-term effects of low-intensity exercise training on fat metabolism in weight-reduced obese men. Metabolism. 51(8):1003-10.

Van Aggel-Leijssen D.P, Saris W.H, Hul G.B, Van Baak M.A., (2001). Short-term effects of weight loss with or without low-intensity exercise training on fat metabolism in obese men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.73(3):523-31.

Van Aggel-Leijssen D.P., Saris W.H., Wagenmakers A.J., Hul G.B., van Baak MA. The effect of low-intensity exercise training on fat metabolism of obese women. Obesity Research. 9(2):86-96.

Aerobic work/endurance running causes injuries
Genin J., Mann R,. Theisen D., (2011). Determining the running-related injury risk factors in long distance runners. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 45(4):349.

Jacobsson J., Timpka T., Ekberg J., KowalskiNilsson S., Renström P., (2011). The swedish athletics study: annual incidence of musculoskeletal injuries in elite athletics athletes. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 45(4):353-4.

Junior L.C., Carvalho A.C., Costa L.O., Lopes A.D., (2011). The prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries in runners: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 45(4):351-2.
Lopes A.D., Saragiotto B.T., Yamato T.P., Adami F., Costa L.O., (2011).Musculoskeletal pain in recreational runners prior to race participation: a cross-sectional survey in 1049 runners. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 45(4):361.

Tenforde A.S., Sayres L.C., McCurdy M.L., Collado H., Sainani K.L., Fredericson M., (2011). Overuse injuries in high school runners: lifetime prevalence and prevention strategies. PM& R. (2):125-31; quiz 131.

Anaerobic work is more efficient for fat loss and fitness
Ahearn K. J., Leighton B.H., , McManus J.J., Scott C.B., (2011). Aerobic, Anaerobic, and Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption Energy Expenditure of Muscular Endurance and Strength: 1-Set of Bench Press to Muscular Fatigue. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25(4):903-8.

Daussin F.N., Zoll J., Dufour S.P., Ponsot E., Lonsdorfer-Wolf E., Doutreleau S., Mettauer B., Piquard F., Geny B., Richard R., (2008). Effect of interval versus continuous training on cardiorespiratory and mitochondrial functions: relationship to aerobic performance improvements in sedentary subjects. American Journal of Physiology Regulatory Integrative Comparative Physiology.295(1):R264-72. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

Gaiga M.C., Docherty D., (1995). The effect of an aerobic interval training program on intermittent anaerobic performance. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. 20(4):452-64.

Hoffor A.S., Harrison A.C., Kirk P.A., (1990). Anaerobic threshold alterations caused by interval training in 11-year-olds. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 30(1):53-6.
Kanaley J.A., Weatherup-Dentes M.M., Alvarado C.R., Whitehead G., (2001). Substrate oxidation during acute exercise and with exercise training in lean and obese women. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 85(1-2):68-73.

Ratel S, Lazaar N, Dore E, Baquet G, Williams CA, Berthoin S, Van Praagh E, Bedu M, Duche P. (2004). High-intensity intermittent activities at school: controversies and facts.  Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 44(3):272-80.

Sartor F., De Morree H.M., Matschke V., Marcora S.M., Milousis A., Thom J.M., Kubis H.P., (2010). High-intensity exercise and carbohydrate-reduced energy-restricted diet in obese individuals. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 110(5):893-903.

Smith T.P., Coombes J.S., Geraghty D.P., (2003). Optimising high-intensity treadmill training using the running speed at maximal O(2) uptake and the time for which this can be maintained. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 89(3-4):337-43. Epub 2003 Mar 25.

Van Aggel-Leijssen D.P., Saris W.H., Wagenmakers A.J., Hul G.B., Van Baak M.A., (2001).Influence of training status on maximal accumulated oxygen deficit during all-out cycle exercise. Obesity Research. 9(2):86-96.


  1. Perhaps this might help to explain where runners are coming from. There is definitely an emotional pull when it comes to running which can't be explained away.

  2. Thanks so much for the comment and the article, I agree and it certainly explains why a logical "this alternative to distance work, with these many benefits over such" argument fall on deaf ears.

  3. I read the article linked above (the psychiatry of running) out of interest. I'm not much of a runner and never experienced anything like a "runners high" when I was jogging, though I know a couple of people that find it therapeutic and de-stressing (probably a similar sort of response that I get from punching pads or a bag). The best feeling I have got from jogging would be described as satisfaction at making a new distance or time, but overlaid with exhaustion (I was not a fit jogger!). But that was almost all done years ago at the gym on the treadmill. The few times I have gone jogging down by the beach a year or so ago, I did enjoy exploring an outdoor track with constantly changing scenery. That was with someone less fit though so it was a series of walk/jog/walk/jog and not overly strenuous. There is a lot to be said for the mental benefits of physical exercise, whatever form it takes though

  4. Agreed. I get subtle endorphin rushes after weights and HIIT sessions (maybe they're strong but after how long I've been training has dulled my perception of it?). It seems normative across all gym experiences to gain pleasure from attaining goals, even if there is no strict physiological component (even though, if you're training hard enough there almost certainly will be). As always bud, thanks for the thoughts, hope your Easter break has been relaxing!