Interval Training - Find Out Everything You Need to Know About Interval Training

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Interval training is an excellent way to burn more calories, build endurance quickly and make workouts more interesting. It basically involves alternating high intensity exercise with recovery periods for a certain length of time.

That's a rather simplistic view and there are a variety of ways to set up interval workouts.

  • Measured periods of work - One option is measured periods of work followed by measured periods of rest. An example would be 1 minute of high intensity work (such as a sprint), followed by 2 minutes of low intensity exercise (e.g., walking) and alternating that several times for 15-30 minutes.
  • A longer work-to-rest ratio - Now, with this, your intensity bursts are longer than your recovery periods, say 30 seconds of work followed by a minute of rest.  This is a great option if you're a beginner or you want to give that 30 seconds your all
  • A shorter work-to-rest ratio - Here you can shorten the rests and lengthen the work, great for advanced exercisers or anyone who loves torture
  • Anaerobic intervals - Now, you an also design your intervals around the intensity level.  Anaerobic intervals basically have you going all out, say a Level 9 on this Perceived Exertion Chart, which is definitely not for beginners. This is a great high intensity interval training choice
  • Aerobic intervals - This is typically where you want to start if you're a beginner at this.  You basically keep your work intervals at a more moderate level rather than going all out
  • Unmeasured periods of work - You can also do intervals that aren't measured or fartleks. For example, if you're outside, you could run or speedwalk to something in the distance then slow down to recover, repeating the sprint when you feel rested.  That gives you full control over how hard and low long you work

    Why Interval Training

    • Burns more calories - A plus if you're going for weight loss
    • Increases endurance more quickly - Working at a higher level, even if it's for short periods of time, increases your endurance.  You'll find your other workouts get easier after awhile
    • Increases your afterburn - If you really go all out, your body will burn more calories for a period of time after your workout to get your body back to it's normal levels
    • Adds some variety to your workouts - If you usually do the same thing all the time, same pace, same level of intensity, interval training can add a breath of fresh air to your workouts and, because they're so versatile, you can change them every week if you like.

    Keep in mind that, if you really are working at a very high level of intensity, you only want to do interval training about 2-3 nonconsecutive days a week.  Your body needs rest and recovery after really hard workouts, so you don't want every single workout to be a killer.

    In fact, it's a great idea to work in these different types of interval workouts every week.  For example, you could start the week with a high intensity interval workout, then do a more aerobic interval workout the next day.  Your high intensity workouts should be shorter while you can go longer with your more aerobic workouts.

    Interval Workouts

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