This is a common debate in the fitness world. When it comes to cardio, is it better to engage in long-distance, endurance running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), like sprinting? The current “studies” seem to lean in favor of HIIT. Some new studies even say that too much long-distance cardio (such as marathon running) can be unhealthy.Well, too much of anything can be bad for you – even good things. You can sit around and think and argue about which one is better all you want, but it all boils down to which one works best for you. So which one should you be doing? Well, probably some of both. However, the one that is going to work best for you is the one that you do more, and the one that you do more should be the one that you enjoy more. Personally, I prefer sprinting. Here’s why.
Sprinting Is More Fun
Again, this is a personal issue. I personally get a lot more of a “runner’s high” from running flat-out as fast as possibly can for a few seconds or a minute, than I do from running at a moderate-to-slow pace, ranging across hours, during which time your mind begins to wander and you begin to feel like you’re starting to die. Endurance running is not very fun to me, because it gets boring. That doesn’t mean I can’t do it, and I can decently enjoy it in moderation (especially if the scenery that I’m running in is good). However, I actually do enjoy sprinting. I get a real high from it. You feel on top of the world! That’s not to say it’s easy – by the time you’ve completed four or five sets of 1-minute sprints, with jogs in between, you’ll hardly be able to stand (depending on your fitness level). The same thing is true of a good, long endurance run. But which one do you enjoy more? Only you can answer this.
Sprinting Is Sexier
Sorry, it’s true. Here are some typical marathon runners:
Here are some typical sprinters:
This argument is used all the time in the endurance running versus sprinting debate. Sprinting makes you look better! Advocates of endurance running argue that sprinters usually employ more weight training in their routines than do sprinters, which probably attributes to their more aesthetic appearance. Whatever the case, I doubt you are going to start looking worn and drawn from too much sprinting. Too much endurance training, on the other hand, is going to tax your system to the point that you’re doing yourself more harm than good. An event like the Tour de France is said to shave years off of an athlete’s life. Just look at the top endurance athletes in the world and compare them to the top sprinters. Who looks healthier?
Sprinting is Quicker
… Enough said. With sprinting, you’ll be wheezing and sweating after just a few of minutes, and you’ll probably be done in less than half an hour. With endurance running, you’ve got to trudge along for hours on end.
Sprinting is Better for Fat Burning & Muscle Building
It’s no secret that sprinting is one of the most effective methods in the world for burning fat. Will it get you in as good of aerobic shape as endurance running? That’s debatable. However, it’s certainly not going to hurt you aerobically. And unlike endurance running, it’s going to burn fat faster while also building more muscle.
So, in the end, the take away message is… Don’t worry about all the studies and stuff. Just do both, but focus on the one you enjoy more. For the most part, I just train HIIT aerobics now, but once in a while I’ll go for a pretty long bike ride or something. It probably wouldn’t hurt me to do more endurance aerobics, but I just enjoy HIIT more. Most of the current studies seem to indicate HIIT is healthier, but just do some of both and focus on whichever one works best for you! If you’re training for a marathon or for the Navy SEALs, you’d better get used to endurance running… Otherwise, HIIT works great as well and its more fun.
Exercise shouldn’t be easy, but you shouldn’t hate it. Go get that endorphin high and enjoy it.