What is interval training?

Eva B. Cwynar, MD
Internal Medicine
Interval training is one of the fastest ways to create a body that is faster, stronger, and healthier -- not to more energetic. In this type of workout, you increase the intensity or pace for several minutes, then back off for anywhere from two to ten minutes (depending on how long your total workout will be, and how much time you need to recover). High intensity usually means that you're working at anywhere from 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.

In interval training you keep moving during the rest periods but lower the intensity. It's as if you were taking a brisk walk on a very hilly trail. Going up a high hill at a brisk pace will raise your heartbeat and make your muscles work harder. On the way down the hill, you're still moving, but at a much lower intensity. Many treadmills offer the option of programming in interval training so that it automatically goes faster and slower and changes the incline. Your metabolic response will be much greater than when you're doing the normal boring walking (or even running) on the treadmill. If you go at the same fixed pace and always do the same workout, your body gets so comfortable that it's not challenged anymore, and it will not help you increase your energy. You can do interval training with any kind of activity, including walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing, jumping rope, etc.
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Interval training is simply asking you to move into different heart rate training zones throughout your cardio session, challenging your heart and body to work harder. One of the greatest benefits of interval training is that you burn more calories overall during the session, and you help expand or enlarge the zone where you burn a large amount of calories coming from fat and carbohydrates. However, interval training should not be done every day. While it does have some great benefits, you can begin to overtrain if you do not allow your body to recover from a challenging workout. Given this, I recommend that interval training should be done no more than three times per week, with at least two recovery days to allow your body to change.
Staness Jonekos
Health Education
Interval training works the heart, lungs and muscles to the max for short lengths of time. Interval training works both the aerobic (needing oxygen) and anaerobic (not needing oxygen) system. When you are pushing yourself to the max during interval training, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles for short bursts of activity. Lactic acid is the byproduct. During the high intensity part of your interval training, this lactic acid builds, and you enter into oxygen debt. When you recover after the interval the heart and lungs work together to replace this oxygen debt by breaking down the lactic acid. During this phase of the workout your aerobic system takes over using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, interval training burns more calories and improves cardiovascular performance.
Interval training is becoming one of the more popular workout routines lately.  As for some people just don't have the endurance for workouts they want to acheive.  However, interval training can boost your endurance, help you burn more calories and can make you stronger.  How interval training works is doing a high intensity bout for 30-60 seconds then an easy for last from 1:30 up to 3 minutes.  Now you can change your bouts up based on your fitness level.  What I have seen as a trainer that my clients like this type of workout better because they can last longer and actually burn more calories in the process.  Just remember to see your fitness professional first to see how this type of program can work best for your goals.

Interval training is a type of training that involves repeated bouts of exercise at varying intensities, separated by rest intervals. The desired goal(s) of the program will dictate the duration and difficulty of the work performed and rest intervals taken.For example, you can run at a very intense pace for 30 seconds, followed by running at a very easy pace for 90 seconds to recover. Repeat this cycle until the goal for total minutes of activity has been reached.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise Programs

Types Of Exercise Programs

Types Of Exercise Programs

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.