Interval training is the latest fitness craze abuzz in the media. From my research, it seems that interval training is an effective workout requiring less time than the traditional endurace workout. Interval training is where an athlete alternates between two activities, typically requiring different speeds and degrees of effort (most commonly alternating between running and jogging, or between jogging and walking).
Research proves that you can improve your recovery time and increase your endurance from intense bouts of exercise in just one hour per week of interval training (compared with five hours or more per week of traditional endurance training). If you are pressed for time, but interested in increasing your exercise performance and increasing your endurance while burning more calories and fat, then you will want to incorporate interval training workouts into your weekly schedule.
If you are wondering how to get started with an interval training program, it is first best to understand what it entails. Interval training is a method of training where you increase and decrease the intensity of your workout between aerobic and anaerobic training. Aerobic running or respiration occurs when your body has sufficient oxygen to provide the needed energy for your muscles. Anaerobic respiration happens when there is NOT sufficient oxygen present.
The basis of interval training is to push your body past its aerobic threshold for a few seconds, and then return to your aerobic conditioning level. The purpose of alternating between these states is to improve your performance (speed, strength, and endurance). The aerobic threshold is the intensity where your body switches from burning a greater percentage of fat, to a greater percentage of carbohydrate (generally 85% of your maximum heart rate).
The easiest way to test whether you’re running aerobically is to perform what is simply referred to as the talk test. While running, try to speak to someone, and if you can get out a short paragraph without too much trouble, you are running aerobically. If it is difficult to get out even one sentence, you should slow down (you are running too hard). Marathon runners need to recognize when they are beginning to run anaerobically, and slow down or they will not have enough energy to complete their race.
For interval training, you purposely alternate aerobic exercise (usually for 3 minutes) with anaerobic exercise (usually for 1 minute). Continue these intervals for your entire workout followed by a 5 minute cooldown for an effective fat-burning, performance enhancing workout. Beginners should not engage in interval training more than twice a week for the first month, and can then increase their workouts as their fitness level improves. It can be helpful to have a “workout buddy” to keep you motivated.
Trying to interval train everyday at the start can result in overtraining (which is very hard on your body). You will want to monitor your heart rate, to make sure you are training at the right levels. Check with your doctor, chiropractor and/or fitness expert before starting interval training, especially if you have any questions about the health of your heart or other medical conditions that might be affected by high-intensity workouts. The results will be well worth the effort you put forth!
Author: Michelle Caron