The discouraging and rarely-discussed reality of aerobic and interval training is that these forms of exercise simply aren’t very effective for burning calories and losing fat (we need not dismay, we still receive the cardio-respiratory health-protective benefits from this type of exercise). However, if you are striving to make your exercise more calorically costly (and most of us are), one of the most important levers we can pull is increasing the rest time between our intervals, prioritizing longer recovery.
High-intensity interval cardio such as Tabata involves performing a sprint (on a bike, treadmill, or rower for example) for a given period of time (20 seconds) followed by a short rest (10 seconds). This is repeated for the desired number of intervals.
However, in order to increase calorie expenditure from the workout, we should INCREASE the rest time between intervals. If you “sprint” for 20 seconds, rest for at least twice as long as your sprint (in this case, 40-60 seconds).
Keep in mind, the cardio-respiratory benefits are largely the same, but the calorie-burning benefit from longer recovery between intervals is significantly greater.
Note: The rest should include very low-intensity movement (very slow cycling, rowing, running). The real focus is on recovery.