Short on time but still want results? Try interval training.
What is interval training?
Interval training is exercise that involves a mixture of high intensity exercise and lower intensity exercise. High intensity means working close to your maximum effort, so you should be out of breath and unable to hold a conversation. Interval training is a concept that can be applied to any cardiovascular activity such as swimming, running, cycling and gym machines such as the treadmill or cross-trainer.
What are the benefits of interval training?
Interval training can improve endurance, cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, whilst avoiding exercise boredom. More calories are burned in a shorter amount of time so it’s perfect if you have a busy schedule. If your exercise goal is weight loss then interval training is an effective method of achieving this. It is commonly believed that performing low intensity cardiovascular exercise in the ‘fat burning zone’ burns more fat, and is therefore the best method of cardiovascular exercise for weight loss. However, more recent research does not support this. Instead research indicates that interval training is a much more effective method of stripping body fat and losing weight. After exercise our metabolism stays elevated, which means more calories are burnt. Low intensity cardiovascular exercise raises our metabolism for up to two hours but interval exercise burns calories for a much more appealing 6-8 hours after exercise!
How does it work?
Interval training challenges both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Your anaerobic system is what allows you to do short bursts of high intensity activity. Unlike with continuous aerobic exercise, it doesn’t require oxygen to give you energy. Instead your anaerobic system uses energy from the carbohydrate stores in your muscles. This type of exercise cannot physically be sustained for long periods of time, so the active rest periods in interval training allow you to recover from your burst of high-intensity activity allowing you to push yourself in the next interval.
How do I start using intervals?
Beginners should start with lower intensity intervals and gradually progress as fitness levels increase. For example, following a leisurely stroll for 5 minutes to warm your muscles you could walk briskly for one minute, before returning to a leisurely stroll for about 3 minutes. Repeat this for as long as feels comfortable, within say 20 minutes. Finish your workout with a leisurely stroll and then stretch. Once your fitness levels improve you could jog in your high intensity interval and brisk walk in your recovery phase and so on until you can sprint for one minute and jog for one minute (health and fitness level dependant of course!). Markings can also be used for interval training i.e. you could walk from one lamp post to the next then jog to the next lamp post and so on.
My Attack & Tone class on Monday evenings in Corran Primary School and Wednesday evenings in Ballygally Community hall from 6.30-7.30pm are great examples of interval training, so why not come along and give it a go! If you would like to learn more about interval training and the most effective training for weight loss or your sport, contact me to arrange personal training sessions.
Next time: Karen Falconer Personal Training helps you...understand why resistance training is important for weight loss.