Interval Training

Stuck in an exercise rut? Try interval training – a wonderful way to break out of a plateau and revitalize your workout sessions.

What is interval training?
Interval training is a repeated series of high-intensity exercise bouts, alternated with low-intensity exercise bouts or rest periods to form a workout.

Interspersing more demanding and less demanding exercise segments within a workout is challenging and greatly improves the cardiovascular efficiency. Also, the low intensity bursts allow for active recovery from the high intensity segments.

What are the benefits of interval training?
Interval training is an effective and efficient way to achieve higher level of fitness.
It can improve your fitness level, increase speed, burn more calories and add variety to your fitness regime.

• You’ll burn more calories. With interval training you can increase calorie or energy expenditure by more than 15-percent per exercise session.
• You’ll improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you’ll be able to exercise longer or with greater intensity.
• You’ll keep boredom at bay. It adds variety to your exercise routine.
• You don’t need special equipment. You can simply modify your current routine to include interval training.

How does this system of training increase fitness levels?
Despite its simplicity, this method is very scientific in its approach. It presents almost unlimited training variations and is more challenging than the standard steady-paced method of working out.

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During interval training both the energy systems are utilized - the aerobic energy system and anaerobic energy systems. The aerobic system is used in the lower intensity bouts, when the body uses oxygen from the air and transfers it to the working muscles. The anaerobic system is used in the higher intensity bouts, when the body can no longer meet its energy demand from utilizing oxygen. The byproduct of anaerobic system is lactic acid, which is responsible for producing the burning sensation in the muscles.

Is interval training recommended for beginners?
Interval training is beneficial for all - beginners as well as athletes. For example, a beginner can alternate walking for 2-minutes with jogging for 1-minute; whereas an athlete can alternate spurts of jogging for 5-minutes with sprinting for 1-minute.

Based on your fitness level you can plan the duration of the high intensity and low-to-moderate intensity segments; and also the duration of recovery periods.

Caution
• Do not over-train. Avoid increasing intensity if you are already very tired or have been exercising too hard. A rule of the thumb is to increase your intensity by no more than 10-percent per week.

• During speed intervals - listen to your body. The goal is to push yourself past your comfort zone and increase respiration and perspiration, but not to the point of injury.

Examples of interval training
Remember to start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down.

Walking: Walk easy for 3 minutes, speed walk for 1 minute. Repeat for 30 minutes.

Running: Run for 5 minutes, sprint for 1 minute. Repeat for 30 minutes.

Treadmill: Walk on flat surface for 5 minutes; walk on an incline for 5 minutes. Repeat for 30 minutes.

Cycling: Adjust the easy and hard levels to suit your needs. Alternate between cycling for 2 minutes, increase speed/resistance for 1 minute. Repeat for 30 minutes.

Swimming: Do 4-moderate paced-laps, increase speed for 2-laps. Repeat for 30-minutes.

Jogging/ skipping: Jog for 4-minutes; skip for 50-counts. Repeat 5-times.

Step workout: Do alternate lift steps (e.g. knee lift) for 16-counts, Do alternate lifts steps adding propulsion (hop) for 4-counts. Repeat for 10-minutes.

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