Lack of time and lack of results are two reasons people give for not exercising. Interval training is a great solution to these two common problems.
Interval training involves short bursts of intense activity with what is called active recovery, which is typically a less-intense form of the original activity. Interval training can help you avoid injury that often accompanies non-stop, repetitive activity. It also provides you the opportunity to increase your intensity without burning yourself out in a matter of minutes. Interval training should be based on the needs and perceptions of the participant. In other words, how you feel determines the length and speed of each interval.
The advantages of interval training are many. It utilizes the body’s two energy production systems: the aerobic and the anaerobic. The aerobic system is the one that allows you to walk or run for several miles. It uses oxygen to convert carbohydrates from various sources throughout the body into energy. They anaerobic system, on the other hand, draws energy from carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen) stored in muscles for short bursts of activity such as sprinting, jumping, or lifting heavy objects. This system does not require oxygen, nor does it provide enough energy for more than the most brief of activities. And its byproduct, lactic acid, is responsible for that achy, burning sensation in your muscles that you feel after, say, running up several flights of stairs.
Interval training allows you to enjoy the benefits of anaerobic activities without having to endure those burning muscles. In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout. The intensity (or lack thereof) of each interval is up to how you feel and what you are trying to achieve. The same is true for the length of time of each interval. For example, if your habit is to walk 2 miles per day in 30 minutes, you can easily increase the intensity of your walk (as well as its calorie-burning potential) by picking up the pace every few minutes and then returning to your usual speed.
When you first start interval training, each interval can be a negotiation with yourself depending on how strong or energetic you happen to feel during that particular workout. Don’t forget the endorphins kick in at about 5 minutes into your workout, so how you feel when you start may be different once the endorphins kick in! Interval training also helps break up the boredom that often comes with doing the same thing day after day.
Be sure to consider these four variables when designing an interval training program:
1. Intensity (speed) of work interval
2. Duration (distance or time) of work interval
3. Duration of rest or recovery interval
4. Number of repetitions of each interval
When you first begin interval training you may only be able to do ONE interval throughout your entire thirty minute workout. That’s okay, we will work up to more. Interval training is proven to work. Most important it does increase calorie-burning potential!