What is Interval Training?

What is interval training? In a nutshell, it is using both high intensity and low intensity components to create a complete exercise program.

This is how it works. Let’s say that you are at the gym and you want start interval training. The program will begin with a warm-up. A warm-up is important for all types of exercise programs. It gives your muscles and your cardiovascular system a heads up to say, “I am about to exercise this body.”

After a three to five minute warm-up, you can begin the first high-intensity phase. Whatever you choose to do, it is done for sixty seconds. Run on the treadmill at a fast pace (about 4.0), ride the stationary bicycle, or ride the elliptical, for example. Once that time is up you move right away to a lower intensity exercise. This can be done on the same piece of equipment only at a slower pace. When you are finished with your workout, don’t forget the cool down to return your heart rate to normal.

The benefit comes in when the cycle is repeated over and over to create a full workout session. Interval training is beneficial to those who are trying to reach the other side of a plateau. This change up in your usual routine may be enough to do it.

If you participate in any type of sport, interval training helps improve your cardiovascular fitness and your aerobic capacity. It challenges your body to keep up with the change in program. This is important if the sport you do is one with fast-paced intervals like basketball.

This is what is called the basic type of interval training. There is a more advanced phase for those who are in peak physical condition. Instead of performing your high intensity phase for 60 seconds, you can stretch it out to two minutes or more before moving to the lower intensity portion. The risk here is that if you take it too far, you could hurt yourself. The optimum range for burning fat is at around 75 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Exceeding that is dangerous.

As with all other forms of exercise, you know how much you can handle. It is always wise to consult your doctor before beginning this or any other exercise regimen. With interval training, erring on the side of caution will lead to a safe and productive workout.