Interval training is a particular (mostly cardio) technique that has been used by athletes for years to build top levels of fitness. Interval training involves combinations of short, high intensity bursts of exercise, with slow, recovery periods. rcise session. Professional athletes work to a structured version of interval training but for the fitness enthusiast at home and for folks looking for the best exercises for weight loss, such structure can be tough to work out. The good news is, the earliest forms of this kind of training (Swedish in origin) were more casual. You can train this way simply by increasing and decreasing intensity at will.
How Interval Training Works
Interval training is so effective at building fitness and losing weight because you are getting an aerobic and anaerobic workout in one session. The high intensity segments work anaerobically (using energy stored in muscle as glycogen as fuel). In scientific terms, this kind of metabolic activity works without oxygen and produces lactic acid. The more acid built up the more of an ‘oxygen debt’ you have to work off in the latter recovery phase of aerobic exercise. Incidentally, lactic acid is what gives you a ‘stitch’ when exercising. Interval training increases your bodies efficiency when working anaerobically and improves your recovery from anaerobic exercise.
One of the reasons for interval training regimes being amongst the best exercises for weight loss involves calories and the rate at which they’re burned. Short, high intensity exercise burns more calories. For the fitness enthusiast or anyone looking to exercise to lose weight you’ll be squeezing in the calorie burning effects of two or three normal cardio sessions into one, shorter set of intervals. It’s hard work but you save time and speed up results.
Building An Interval Training Regime
Athletes work with coaches and facilities in a sports performance lab. They have blood lactate and exercise metabolism tests. They work out their best interval training structure very scientifically. We don’t need to worry about that.
When I go out cycling or running using interval training techniques, I pay attention to how I feel and what I judge my maximum effort could be at any given time. I am hard on myself but don’t set any unrealistic goals It’s important to be hard but fair so you don’t injure yourself or put yourself off this kind of training by being too punishing.
It’s also important to realise that interval training is, by its nature, very demanding on the heart, lungs and muscles. If you like the sound of it I advise you get checked out by a doctor before you start. I also advise that if you’re just starting to exercise you build up a base level of fitness in the discipline (running or cycling) you want to try interval training in.
If you’ve done that and you’re ready, begin by warming up thoroughly (the high intensity intervals are going to really push your muscles and you don’t want them cold).
As a beginner, start with shorter, high intensity intervals (under a minute, possibly under 30 seconds). Take suitably long recovery intervals and complete as many intervals as you can. Don’t worry about the number you complete – you’ll be building these as you train over the weeks to come.
Take changes into terrain if you’re running or cycling outside into account. Rest periods shouldn’t coincide with hills. High intensity periods shouldn’t coincide with easy downward slopes. Interval train once (maybe twice) a week – it’s the perfect compliment to your existing exercise routines.
When you feel you are ready to challenge yourself more (after a week or so) you can choose to increase the duration of the high intensity interval, the speed of your high intensity interval, or reduce the duration of your recovery phase. Don’t be tempted to push for too much. You’ll be getting so much fitter, you’ll notice when you’re working out in your usual routines.