Interval Training has garnered a lot of interest in the fitness world in the past few years. What is it, and how can it benefit your workout?

Interval Training is a technique that alternates work and recovery periods. The work period can last from 30 seconds to five minutes. The recovery period can vary, depending on the intensity of your work period. True Interval Training requires efforts as close to 100% as possible, followed by a recovery period. This technique applies the “overload” concept for strengthening your heart muscle; in order for the heart to get stronger, you must overload it. Interval Training is also effective for increasing aerobic endurance, enhancing performance and burning calories.

A Calorie Burner:

By increasing your workout intensity, you consume more oxygen; by consuming more oxygen, you burn more calories. It’s that simple.

Studies show that Interval Training increases your Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) more than Steady State Aerobic exercises. EPOC is important because after a workout, our bodies continue to consume oxygen to replenish that which was lost during the workout. Because oxygen consumption yields calories burnt, you continue to expend calories post-exercise.

Performance Enhancer:

Interval Training is great for sport-specific training. Many sports require short bursts of movements; for example, baseball, soccer, basketball and tennis, just to name a few. Training your body specifically for the rigors of a particular sport will enhance performance.

Endurance athletes will also benefit from an increased ability to tolerate lactic acid buildup – a contributor to fatigue. Training to tolerate the buildup teaches the body to use lactic acid for energy, which averts the pitfalls of hitting a wall.

Types of Workouts:

  • See this month’s Exercise of the Month feature for a sample workout on the treadmill.
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  • Here’s a popular technique termed Tabata: 20 seconds of maximal sprinting on a stationary bike, 10 seconds of recovery, repeat the cycle eight (8) times for a total of four (4) minutes of work. No stationary bike available? Try it on other cardio-based machines.