I've recently been asked if you can train anaerobically, doing sprints and such, for aerobic endeavours, like a marathon.
My quick answer was no. Now if you train aerobically (think jogging/running) for what most people think of as fitness or losing the gut, then the answer becomes a resounding yes. Anaerobic will work.
Sprints can be much more useful for losing weight. If your involved in an endurance sport though, you have to put in the time on the road or on the bike or whatever your competing in.
Here is a great study that basically shows both sides. 30 seconds all out sprints, 4 minutes rest for sets of 4-6x, 3x a week for 6 weeks. The other group did 30-60 min runs at 65% effort for the same, 3x a week for 6 weeks.
The body composition, VO2max, a 2000m time trial were about the same. The maximal cardiac output only improved with the endurance group.
What is Max Cardiac Output? Super important for endurance athletes. Probably the most important endurance adaptation. As you train for aerobic sports your heart rate usually goes down, so when your cardiac output goes up, your stroke volume in your heart as increased. Cardiac output increases linearly with oxygen consumption.
Just looking to shed some fat, with much less time, do some sprints. Looking to be a champion endurance athlete, prepare to put it a lot, I repeat, a lot of time.