Interval training has many benefits and it is an extremely good option if you are short on time. In addition to being efficient, interval training is also a great way to burn more fat and calories, lose weight, increase your metabolism, and get a healthier heart.
What is interval training?
Interval training is a method where you increase and decrease the intensity of your workout between aerobic and anaerobic efforts. Runners have used this method for decades and described their workouts as fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”). The protocol for interval training is to push your body past the aerobic threshold (go anaerobic) for a few moments and then return to your aerobic conditioning level. The objective is to improve overall performance including one’s speed, strength, and endurance. The aerobic threshold is when your body switches from burning a greater percentage of fat to a greater percentage of carbohydrate. This is generally 85% of your maximum heart rate – train below 85% and it’s aerobic; train above 85% and it’s anaerobic.
How are interval training sessions designed?
The idea is to set up work to active-recovery ratios (work : active-recovery) in intervals of minutes. For instance, let’s say you usually train comfortably at 6mph on the treadmill. After your warm up at 6mph, you would sprint for one minute at 7.5mph and then jog again at 6mph for three minutes (1:3 ratio for a total of four minutes). You continue these intervals for your entire workout and then cool down.
How do I determine how hard to work?
As I mentioned in a previous article “Starting Cardiovascular Training” your heart rate is a good indicator of how hard you’re working. The heart rate is easy to measure and it’s an ideal method for setting up and monitoring intervals. Using the example from above, let’s assume your heart rate is 70% of your predicted maximum when you jog at 6mph. When you increase the speed of your interval to 7.5mph your heart rate might be 85-90% of your heart rate maximum. After the minute interval you cut back on the speed to 6mph in order to obtain a heart rate of 70% for your active-recovery.
Interval training definitely gives you more bang for your buck. To get started make sure you have thought about your intervals. Write them down. You will also need a timer/stopwatch and a heart rate monitor is recommended. Have fun!