Long Slow Distance Runs vs HIIT

Long Slow Distance Runs vs HIIT

If you're really trying to lose weight and increase your lean muscle mass go easy on the jogging and give HIIT a shot.

Why do so many people still think that long slow distance training works for fat loss and better health? It’s crazy to me to think that these people have done the same thing for so long when these boring, useless training sessions are far less effective than other training methods. So what happens when these individuals run a few miles a week and don’t notice any difference? They add another mile onto their route expecting that mile to make everything better. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but as long as you’re doing long slow distance runs that’s not going to happen.

Long slow distance (LSD) runs are categorized as long runs that are as short as 2 miles but as long as 20 miles. They will definitely build stamina in anyone that wants to complete an endurance race, but as a fat burner it takes a lot more time since fat is utilized as a secondary energy source. Distance runners may look lean, but this is very deceiving because they have very little lean muscle on their bodies. The problem is that the main goal of LSD training is to break down and burn fat, but as stated before fats are actually the secondary energy source used and carbohydrates are the primary source. So over a longer distance the body will look to shed excess weight in order to lighten the load. It eventually does that by breaking down muscle and not by burning fat as most people seem to believe. Yeah, that’s what I want…to be skinner and weaker after I run… NOT!

On the other hand high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts involve short burst of high intensity sprinting followed by walking or jogging recovery periods which are repeated over and over again throughout the workout (15-30 minutes). This type of training torches calories in a shorter amount of time and has been shown to increase your body’s naturally fat-burning hormone, HGH. Additionally, your metabolism will remain elevated longer than it does after long slow distance running. Why? Because HIIT "confuses" your muscles and forces them to adapt.

But why sprints as opposed to LSD? Simply put, sprints recruit more muscle fibers. These short bursts of speed focus on the muscles (hips and legs.) that are important for performance but also utilize the most calories in the body. Sprints will ask your muscles, not only to be strong, but to be strong and explosive at the same time

Now, most people want to leaner, toner, and stronger in less and less time. Most of us today don’t have 2-3 hours to workout or go out on a long run. So, if you want to be lean and strong, in the shortest period of time (i.e. 30 minutes or less), then high intensity interval sprints may be just what the doctor ordered. They’re a perfect blend of strength training and sprinting and although you may feel like you’re going to pass out half way through, you’ll actually be maximizing your fat loss and increasing your stamina and cardio capacity.

HIIT pushes your heart and lung capacity to new limits, increasing their volume and allowing you to move more oxygen in and out of your body (and to pump more blood to your muscles when they need it most). Training your heart and lungs in this way can also help you recover faster between sprints on the field.

So yeah, I guess I’m still a little “old school” because I only suggest the things that work. Things like cleans, squats, pull ups, bench press and High Intensity Interval Training. But seriously, who wants to look like a marathoner? All that LSD training does is shrink your muscles and make you look like a skeleton. So if you want to burn fat, increase your cardio capacity, and train with a purpose, hop on the HIIT bandwagon. It may be hard, but at least it's working.

Now that I’ve got you on board, here are a few examples of ways you can incorporate HIIT into your weekly routine. Tempo runs, pattern runs, sprint-jog ladders, and sprint ladders are a good place to start. As you progress, you can adjust the total number of repetitions, time, distances or pattern of the run to make it more challenging. Below are a few examples, but don't be afraid to experiment:

Short Sprint Interval Example (Beginner)
Set 1
Sprints       Time            Rest
40 yards     6 seconds    15 seconds
40 yards     6 seconds    15 seconds
30 yards     4 seconds    15 seconds
30 yards     4 seconds    15 seconds
20 yards     3 seconds    15 seconds
20 yards     3 seconds    15 seconds
10 yards     2 seconds    15 seconds
10 yards     2 seconds    15 seconds
Rest 90 seconds

Set 2
40 yards    6 seconds    15 seconds
40 yards    6 seconds    15 seconds
30 yards    4 seconds    15 seconds
30 yards    4 seconds    15 seconds
20 yards    3 seconds    15 seconds
20 yards    3 seconds    15 seconds
10 yards    2 seconds    15 seconds
10 yards    2 seconds    15 seconds
Rest 90 seconds

Set 3
40 yards   6 seconds    15 seconds
30 yards   4 seconds    15 seconds
20 yards   3 seconds    15 seconds
10 yards   2 seconds    15 seconds
 

Long Sprint Interval Example (Intermediate to Advanced)
Sprint 110 yards and jog back for 1 rep and complete 1 rep every minute. To complete the entire test you will run 22 – 110 yard sprints in 22 minutes.

The first 10 reps should be done as follows:
110 yard sprint in 25 seconds, 35 seconds to get back

After initial set of 10, each round should be done as follows:

110 yard sprint in 24 seconds, 36 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 23 seconds, 37 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 22 seconds, 38 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 21 seconds, 39 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 20 seconds, 40 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 19 seconds, 41 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 18 seconds, 42 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 17 seconds, 43 seconds to jog back
110 yard sprint in 16 seconds, 44 seconds to jog back

Exercise Bike Example (Intermediate to Advanced)
You will start at work Level 4 and progress to Level 12 on the bike

Level 4-8 for 5 minutes
(30 seconds@ 80rpm/30 seconds @ 120 rpm) (Increase each level after 1 minute)

Levels 9-10 for 2 minutes
(60 seconds @ 80rpm/60 seconds @ 120 rpm)

Levels 11-12 for 2 minutes
(30 seconds @ 100 rpm/30 seconds @ 140 rpm)

Go back to Levels 4-12

Levels 4-8 10 minutes
(60 seconds @80 rpm/60 seconds @ 120 rpm)

Levels 9-12 for 4 minutes
(30 seconds @ 100 rpm/30 seconds @ 140 rpm)

Pattern Run Example  (Beginner to Intermediate)
This drill we call the Hour Glass. Start on the end line in the corner of the field. Sprint to the opposite corner. Jog diagonally to the middle of the field. Sprint back out diagonally to the corner. Walk across the field to the opposite corner. Sprint to the middle of the field. Jog back to the starting point. Repeat for a set number of repetitions 5-15 or for a set amount of time (10-20 minutes)


For examples of the patterns runs we use at Limestone College log on to www.golimestonesaints.com and check out the training manual on the Strength & Conditioning page.
 

To maximize your results using HIIT workouts 1R would recommend the following supplements:

  1. Optimum Nutrition Threshold Beta-Alanine - Will help increase your workout capacity which will improve performance and strength during high intensity training
  2. Cytosport Creatine - By increasing your body's ATP production creatine will help you become more explosive, more powerful, and more athletic when taken before or after workouts
  3. Cytosport Whey Isolate – Naturally rich in glutamine, BCAA’s and other important nutrients, this protein supplement will help you build lean muscle mass when taken after training sessions
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About the Author

Curt Lamb has been the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at Limestone College since 2005. Not only does he over see the development of Limestone College's nearly 500 student athletes, but he is also currently the Director of Limestone College's Strength & Conditioning Education curriculum, a contributor to LaxSpeedTV.com, and is the Strength & Conditioning Consultant to the New Zealand Men’s Lacrosse World Championships team. He received a bachelor's degree in exercise and sports sciences from Iowa State University. He earned a master's degree in exercise and sports sciences from Central Missouri State University and is certified by both the National Strength & Conditioning Association and the United States Weightlifting Association.