1. FACT: Interval training works.
By now, most everyone knows that short bursts of intense cardio deliver big leaps in fitness — you move faster, breathe better, and even your blood sugar numbers improve. There’s just one catch: “Intense” leaves no room for half-assing. From the landmark 1996 Tabata study that kicked off the interval-training craze to the hundreds of similar studies that have followed, the largest gains have always come when subjects drove themselves to the wall. “There’s no free lunch with intervals,” says Martin Gibala, chairman of the kinesiology department at McMaster University and a leading researcher for high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
“You have to go very hard — well outside your comfort zone.” This means you’re pushing so hard that you’re thinking Holy shit! but you’re unable to actually speak the words “Holy shit.” However, you don’t have to keep this up for long. In fact, HIIT is most effective when it’s incredibly clipped. “When people do longer interval workouts, they save their energy,” Gibala says. “But if you’re only doing a few minutes’ worth, you really go all-out.” That maximum effort is what challenges your heart, lungs, and muscles — and ultimately strengthens them.
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