Interval training is built upon alternating short, high-intensity bursts of speed with slower, recovery phases throughout a single workout.
How It Works
Interval training works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. During the high-intensity efforts, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of activity.
Anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen, but the by-product is lactic acid. As lactic acid builds, the athlete enters oxygen debt, and it is during the recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to “pay back” this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. It is in this phase that the aerobic system is using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy.
Interval training leads to many physiological changes including an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. These changes result in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance.
Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with repetitive overuse, common in endurance athletes. Intervals also allow an athlete to increase training intensity without overtraining or burnout. Adding intervals to a workout routine is also a great way add cross training to an exercise routine.
Interval Training Burns More Calories
Beginners should start with short intervals (under 30 seconds), fewer repeats and more rest. Elite athletes can up the intensity, time, and frequency of training. Few athletes benefit from performing intervals more than two times per week.
- Warm Up before starting intervals
- Assess current conditioning and set training goals that are within your ability
- Start slowly. (for example: walk 2 minutes/ run 2 minutes) In general, longer intervals provide better results
- Keep a steady, but challenging pace throughout the interval
- Build the number of repetitions over time
- Bring your heart rate down to 100-110 bpm during the rest interval
- To improve, increase intensity or duration, but not both at the same time
- Make any changes slowly over a period of time
- Train on a smooth, flat surface to ensure even effort
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