Spice Up Your Workouts With Interval Training
There’s been a lot of buzz
recently about Interval Training. So, you may be wondering what it really is
and, more importantly, why you should incorporate it in your fitness workouts.
Well, if you want a workout that can help propel you to the next fitness level,
burn more calories, increase your speed, improve your power and more, then
it’s time to learn more about this effective technique.
A simple definition of Interval
Training is: short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of
rest. These higher and lower intensity periods are repeated several times to
form a complete workout . Here’s
a basic example: walk for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH, walk for 1 minute at 4.2 MPH and
then repeat this sequence several times.
Most people spend their workout
time only performing continuous training exercises. These are exercises where
the intensity level is basically constant throughout. An example of this is
walking at 3.5 MPH, at 0% incline for 30 minutes.
Continuous training is very
effective and should not be eliminated from your weekly workouts. However,
it’s recommended that you include both Interval Training and continuous
training sessions as part of your fitness regimen.
Why should you include Interval
Training? As previously mentioned, there are many benefits to this type of
training and execution is relatively simple. Interval Training can help you
improve cardiovascular fitness, increase speed, improve overall aerobic power,
burn more calories, break-through a plateau, increase workout duration, reach
new exercise levels, expand your workout options and increase your workout
threshold – just to name a few.
Plus, this training method has
useful applications for beginners, intermediate exercisers and even conditioned
athletes. There are two basic types of Interval Training. For the majority of
exercisers (novices and intermediate) Fitness Interval Training methods
are recommended. Athletes can choose a more advanced technique known as Performance
The Fitness training
method utilizes periodic increases in intensity. Typically the higher-intensity
levels range from 2-5 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity
periods that also range from 2-5 minutes. And, a critical element in Fitness
Interval Training is determining the appropriate level for the higher-intensity
periods. This level should not exceed the anaerobic threshold (which is usually
reached below 85% heart rate reserve).
On the flip side, the Performance
training technique involves periods of near maximal or even maximal intensity
(e.g. >85% heart rate reserve – even reaching 100%). The higher-intensity
levels can range from 2-15 minutes in duration and are followed by
lower-intensity periods that also can range from 2-15 minutes in duration.
Don’t let the two types of
training and their ranges confuse you. Incorporating Interval Training methods
into your exercise routine is actually quite easy. Since the majority of
exercisers fall into either the beginner or intermediate category, we’ll focus
on getting started with those techniques.
To begin, choose the type of
exercise: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc. Next determine your
lower-intensity level. This is usually somewhere between 50-65% target heart
rate. This will be your baseline, lower-level intensity. Then simply increase
the intensity-level up to where you feel like you are working hard to very hard,
but avoid reaching a level over 85% target heart rate. If monitoring your heart
is not feasible, instead use the RPE scale where 1 is basically at rest and 10
is working extremely hard. For example, if you find that when you are exercising
at a comfortable level you rank a 5, then bump up to a 7 for the
You may choose to
systematically raise and lower your intensity (e.g. 2 minutes lower intensity
followed by 1 minute higher intensity and repeat) or you can alternate more
randomly by raising and lowering the level at your discretion. To increase your
intensity, you may choose to change the speed, incline, or some other variable.
Interval Training can be
especially helpful in situations where you are trying a new form of exercise.
For example, this can be very beneficial when first learning to jog. If you
attempt to jog continuously without building up to it, you will probably fatigue
quickly and even give up. However, if you begin with intervals of walking
interspersed with jogging periods, the workout will be much more enjoyable and
effective. Also, you will be more likely to stick with the program and achieve
the end result – continuous jogging.
Now that you know the benefits of Interval Training and the basic techniques for it, why not give it a try for yourself. Not only will it provide health benefits and improved fitness levels but it is also a great way to avoid workout boredom. Plus, with Interval Training workouts often are more enjoyable, go by quicker, and improvement results come faster. So why not try spicing up a stale, run-of-the-mill workout with Interval options? You may even find yourself excelling in an activity you were skeptical of even trying.
Lynn Bode offers her personal
training services online through her company,
WorkoutsForYou.com. Workouts For You provides even the
busiest of people affordable, personalized exercise programs (via
the Internet) for losing weight, toning-up, building muscles &
increasing stamina. The programs can be done on their schedule and in
the comfort of their own home (or gym or on-the-road). Visit
for a FREE sample workout.
If you would like to publish this article in print or electronically, please contact Lynn, click here.
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