Interval training and why you should try it

Interval training and why you should try it

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Want to improve your cardiovascular fitness or lose fat? You can choose between two types of cardiovascular training: continuous training and interval training.

Continuous training is simply what is says, training for a period of time at a continuous intensity. I’m sure you’ve all seen the so-called “cardio bunnies” spending a good 30 – 60 minutes -or longer- running, cycling, swimming or rowing.

Now, when interval training, the participant alternates periods of intense effort with periods of moderate-to-low effort or complete rest. What happens is that during the high intensity interval the body produces lactic acid and reaches a state of oxygen debt. During the low intensity or rest interval (recovery) the heart and lungs are still stimulated as they work overtime to supply oxygen and pay back the debt created in the intense part of exercise. All this creates a metabolic demand which is beneficial in many ways. Interval training workouts can last from 10’ to 50’.

As you can imagine, in order to substitute an hour of running for 10 minutes it’s going to be hard, right?

First things first! Before trying interval training:remember
-make sure you have undertaken a period of continuous training
-if you are overweight, have a cardiovascular, metabolic or respiratory illness, or are recovering from an injury, make sure you consult your doctor before you alter your physical activity
-maintain a comfortable (yet challenging) pace during your high intensity part
-make sure you bring your heart rate down to 100-110 beats per minute during the rest interval. Lower the intensity of the “work phase” or increase your rest interval if you need to
-start with a low number of repetitions alternating high with low intensity (keep your total workout time low and build gradually)

Now, why you should try it? Because:

why– A 20’ workout of alternating high/low intensity burns more calories than a 20’ workout of a steady intensity
– Interval training boosts metabolism significantly longer than a steady workout of even longer length
– Interval training builds lean muscle tissue faster than steady state training
– Intervals train your ability to change pace and recover quickly, a skill needed in most sports
– You can tailor your training to your fitness level by tweaking the intensity of the working interval or tweaking your work-to-rest ratio
– It strengthens your cardiovascular system and improves your ability to tolerate higher levels of intensity for longer periods of time
– The high intensity (anaerobic) part challenges your fast twitch muscle fibers, which normally don’t get worked out during cardiovascular training

So, if we combine interval training with high intensity what do we get? HIIT, otherwise known as High Intensity Interval Training! What HIIT does is that it maximises fat burning and muscle building potential through significantly shorter workouts.

Some HIIT protocols:

Tabata: the interval consists of 20 seconds high intensity followed by 10 seconds rest for 8 cycles and a total workout time of 4 minutes. Recommended frequency is 2-4 times a week and they’re perfect for those of you who are extremely fit with very little time.

1478bBodyweight or resistance training: what I like to do is alternate high rep-no weight (or low weight) resistance exercises with high intensity cardio. Example: 10 push-ups followed by one minute skipping, mountain climbers or any exercise that steals your oxygen. Keep your total workout time to max. 40 minutes, not more than 3 times a week. Perfect for those of you who are intermediate and want to incorporate strength training into HIIT.
When you mix up the exercises, choose exercises that strain different muscle groups in the same circuit, e.g. jump squats with plank, skipping with push-ups, burpees with bicycle crunches.

Cardio drills: they can be anything from interspersing e.g. 3’ running at 70% of your max. followed by 1.5’ jogging at 50% of your max., up to sprinting for 20’’ at 100% of your max and recovering for 60’’ at 65% of your max for a set number of times.
watch outRemember! HIIT is high intensity FOR YOU. We are all at different stages in our fitness journey so be sure to work within/at your limits and capacity, not at those of your trainer, friend or YouTube idol. I have shared 8 HIIT routines for beginner/intermediate exercisers on my Youtube channel, click here to watch!

Stay inspired!