4 Benefits of Interval Training

Instead of going to the gym and jumping on the elliptical for 45 minutes, stretching and calling it a day, try adding some intensity to your workout.

Interval training is defined as bouts of high intensity activity, followed by periods of recovery.  The definition alone brings me to the first benefit…

1. Interval training involves aerobic and anaerobic activity.  During aerobic activity, our body is using oxygen as our primary fuel source.  During anaerobic activity, we have two energy systems working: ATP & CP and anaerobic glycolysis.  Within the first 30 seconds of activity, our ATP & CP energy system is being used.  The next 1-3 minutes involve the second system, anaerobic glycolysis.  Here, our body is using glucose (glycogen) as our main fuel source in the absence of oxygen.  The bi-product of anaerobic glycolysis is lactate (lactic acid).  This brings me to the next benefit….

2. Interval training improves the body’s ability to remove & tolerate lactic acid.  The more you are working in an anaerobic state (anaerobic glycolysis specifically), the more lactic acid your body will be producing during your workouts.  If you train at this level on a regular basis, your body will adapt and learn to remove this lactic acid at a quicker rate and/or tolerate it.  Have you heard of the term lactate threshold? This is the point when lactate removal fails to keep up with the rate of lactate production.  Working at this level will help to increase your lactate threshold.  Simply put, this means you’re going to get faster.

3.  Interval training increases RMR (resting metabolic rate) due to EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption).  This simply states that interval training will increase our resting metabolism.  This means we will be burning more calories throughout the day while we are just sitting at our desks etc.  This is due to the fact that following an intense workout involving intervals, our rate of oxygen consumption increases (EPOC).  It’s the way our body trys to calm down following a workout and return back to resting levels.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post (EPOC),  the way your body works following a workout can be compared to that of a car engine.  When you’re driving a car for a prolonged period of time then turn it off, the engine is still going to be hot for a while after the car is turned off, right?  This is just like working out.  When you’re working out at a high intensity then stop, your engine is still hot, or in other words, your body’s engine is trying to cool down & it does this by burning more calories. NOTE: * The higher the intensity of the workout, the greater the EPOC effect (meaning you’re burning more calories following the workout)!

4. Interval training is time efficient.  We all have busy, hectic lives.  Whether its because of work or kids, don’t use the excuse “I don’t have time to workout.”   I’m positive that everyone has AT LEAST 30 minutes in their day that they could dedicate to their health.  If you only have 30 minutes, make the most of your time and do an interval workout.   Twenty minutes of interval training is going to be just as beneficial, if not MORE than 40 minutes of steady state cardio.  That’s HUGE!  So unless you’re training for a marathon, half, or triathlon, stop spending so much time running/biking at the same pace for long periods of time.  Even marathon, half marathon and longer endurance programs involve interval training.

So now you understand why you should start incorporating interval training into your routine, how do you go about it?

You could do intervals on the treadmill.  Example:  Try a 5 minute warm up followed by a 90 second sprint and a 1 minute recovery.  That counts as one round; do 6-8 depending on your fitness level.

You could try Tabata intervals.  This is 20 seconds of hard work with 10 seconds of recovery repeated 8 times (total of 4 minutes work).  See my previous blog post on Tabata training for more info & exercises.

You could incorporate intervals into a circuit routine.  Example: Medicine ball slam + burpee combo (12 reps), Seated lat pulldowns (12 reps), Elbow planks (45s).  Repeat 3 times (rep/set scheme can obviously be changed depending on specific goals).  The idea is that you’re incorporating an exercise that will get your heart rate up and get you working in an anaerobic state (medicine ball slam + burpee combo), then taking it back down to an aerobic state (lat pulldowns).

Hopefully this helps you understand the benefits of interval training and why EVERYONE should start to incorporate it into their normal routine!

Feel free to contact me with any questions! : )

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