If you are serious about losing weight or increasing your level of health, your one-stop solution is Interval Training!
Interval training carries with it many different benefits, allowing you to achieve the maximum amount of progress in the shortest amount of time. Below are some of the benefits associated with interval training, followed by a primer on what interval training is, as well as some sample interval training programs.
Benefits of Interval Training
- Keeps your body from adapting to your training program, meaning that your progress will never stagnate
- Cranks up your metabolism for longer periods of time than “standard” cardiovascular training
- Allows you to burn more body fat for energy as a result of confusing your body during the interval training session
- Increases your level of cardiovascular endurance as well as the overall strength of your heart and cardiovascular system
- Eliminates the boredom often associated with cardiovascular training sessions
- Increases the release of post-exercise endorphins as a result of the high-intensity nature of interval training
- Boosts your confidence as you realize that you can increase your physical abilities exponentially above previously accepted levels
What is Interval Training?
Basically, interval training is a method of exercise whereby you are constantly changing the level of intensity of the training session, which keeps your body from being able to adapt to the activity.
The human body is a highly adaptable machine, and as soon as your body adapts to any given type of training, your progress will slow down, and sometimes even stop completely. Even if you keep exercising, you will not see any further progress until you find a way to start confusing your body with a new training protocol.
The concept of interval training itself is very simple, although there are numerous ways in which you can modify your approach in order to get the most out of it.
Whenever you are engaged in any sort of cardiovascular exercise, interval training is simply the act of constantly changing your level of intensity. This is normally done by having certain periods of time when you exercise at one level of intensity, and then other periods of time when you increase that level of intensity.
That same concept can be applied to distance just as easily, however. You keep up a certain level of intensity for a given distance, then increase the level of intensity for a given distance.
What is meant by “level of intensity” during Interval Training?
Intensity is simply the level of difficulty that is represented by any given exercise activity. The methods of changing the intensity vary depending on the type of cardiovascular activity that you are engaged in, but 2 of the most popular ways to modify your level of intensity are:
- The actual speed at which are you doing the movement, usually measured in miles per hour (mph) or revolutions per minute (rpm).
- The resistance level that you are fighting against while you do the activity. This can be modified by adding an incline if you are on an exercise machine, increasing the tension if you are on an exercise bike, or just cranking up the difficulty level of whatever machine you are using.
If you are a runner, increasing your speed is the most efficient way to turn up the intensity, although running on an incline is also very effective if that is an option for you.
What are some examples of effective Interval Training?
Exercise Bike or Elliptical/Cross Training Machine
Choose a number of revolutions per minute that you are comfortable with. The number of revolutions per minute that you choose should be challenging for you, but should not push you to your absolute limits.
After a proper warm-up, begin timing yourself, keeping your rpm’s at that challenging level for 4 minutes. At the end of that 4 minutes crank up your rpm’s to a much higher level for 1 full minute.
For example, if your rpm’s were previously 70, crank them all the way up to 80, 90, or even 100. Remember, you only have to do this for 60 seconds. At the end of the 60 seconds, return back to your previous level of 70 rpm’s for another 4 minutes. Repeat that process until the end of your workout.
Remember: Whenever you go back to your original level, you should ONLY go back to that level, which was 70 rpm’s in this example. At first you will be tempted to drop below your previous level because you will be very tired. However, if you drop below your previous level, you will not get nearly as much benefit from interval training.
If your normal running speed is 5 miles per hour, begin running at that speed after a proper warm-up. After 3 minutes, take off and run as hard and as fast as you can for 1 full minute. Really give it all you’ve got!
After 1 minute, return back to your normal running speed of 5 mph for 3 minutes, and then repeat. You will quickly find that it takes you all 3 of those minutes before your heart rate returns back to normal!
The net result of that level of intensity from a calorie burning standpoint is that you will spend a significantly larger amount of time with a higher heart rate than you would have if you had just run at 5 mph for the entire exercise session. All of the other benefits of interval training would of course apply as well.
Regardless of which type of cardiovascular activity that you are engaged in, you can also use distance as a way to plan your intervals.
Give yourself a certain distance that you will cover at your “normal” speed, and then choose a distance that is approximately 10% to 15% of that distance, and crank up your intensity to an extremely challenging level while you cover that smaller distance.
Once the smaller distance has been covered, return back to your previous rate of speed or other level of intensity for a prescribed distance before repeating the higher intensity interval again. Repeat that process for the entire workout.
Whether you use time or distance as a way to measure your intervals, the end result is the same – your body is too confused to adapt to the constantly changing exercise environment.
Also, the examples given here are just guidelines. There are no hard and fast rules about how long any given interval should be, or how much distance should be covered.
The only thing that is mission critical to the success of your interval training is that the higher intensity portions of your workout are very challenging, and that you never allow yourself to drop below your normal rate of speed or intensity.
You can modify both the speed/resistance changes during any given workout, as well as the distances covered during any given exercise session. You do not need to stick with one system and never change it.
In fact, the entire idea behind interval training is to keep your body from adapting to the activity, so feel free to change it up as often as you like. However, it is absolutely imperative that whenever you do your higher intensity intervals that they are truly challenging.
Don’t cheat yourself by putting forth sub-par efforts. Interval training is literally one of the most effective exercise modalities ever created, and you can use this system to attain a maximum level of weight loss and health.
Work hard, and the results will follow!