Many machines have inbuilt Interval Training programs but really you don’t need a computer to enjoy this versatile training technique – all it takes is an eye on the timer and a rough plan in your head!
Safe and Sensible Sessions!
*Please note! - Interval Training isn’t suitable for everyone – it is very demanding on the heart, lungs and muscles. If you suffer with any health conditions or you haven’t exercised for some time, please consult your doctor before trying interval training.
Whatever your level of fitness, it’s important to read and adhere to these guidelines :
· Warm up BEFORE doing intervals!
· Allow yourself to slowly build up the duration and number of ‘work’ intervals over time.
· Only attempt to improve the duration OR intensity during an interval – don’t try and do both
· The great thing about Interval Training is that it can be tailored to suite your personal requirements. If you feel you need more recovery time, then ignore the timer and Listen to your body
· To avoid overtraining and ensure you recover fully between workouts, don’t attempt to do Interval Training more than 3 times per week.
Suitable for a Variety of Fitness Levels
Beginners can start off doing as little as 30 seconds at a brisk pace and then walk for a minute or 2 to recover and repeat. The number of repetitions is up to you, just aim to gently increase things with each workout. It won’t be long before you’re running for longer and resting for less time!
The technique of interspersing short periods of exercise at a challenging pace with slower, gentle periods to recover allows you to push your body with some intense exercise without exhausting yourself too quickly. Make a note of your pace, times and repetitions so that you can monitor your progress. Give it time and you’ll soon see your performance AND endurance improve.
Benefits of Interval Training
Here’s some of the reasons why Interval Training is continuing to grow in popularity:
· It is widely recognized that steady-paced aerobic activity is effective for burning fat, however the intense nature of interval training means that, by comparison, more calories are burned up during intense intervals. Intense exercise also has a unique metabolism boosting effect on the body which plays a key role in aiding weight loss.
· The effectiveness of this type of training makes for noticeable improvements to the speed and endurance trainers can expect from regular interval training, which is a huge motivator.
· The technique allows beginners and deconditioned trainers to exercise more intensely for a longer duration before fatigue sets in. The effectiveness of this technique hinges on the user taking full advantage of regular ‘recovery’ phases, so there’s no shame in taking plenty of ‘breathers’ if you’re struggling to keep a fast pace!
· The structure of interval training is very versatile and adaptable which means that workouts can be tailored to suite individuals whatever their level of experience and conditioning.
· The method of using intermittent phases of less intense exercise helps to prevent injuries that are commonly caused or aggravated by non-stop repetitive activities
· The ‘recovery’ phases within interval training sessions are also an effective way to prevent over-training (Burn out)- however, please be aware that this type of workout does require at least a day of rest between interval workouts.
· Interval training enhances one’s lactate threshold, which in simple terms means that the body becomes better conditioned at ‘breaking down’ lactic acid during the ‘recovery’ phases of the workout (i.e. you’ll suffer less ‘burn’ in the legs!)
For the More Advanced...
To keep your body responding and your mind motivated, it important to give yourself new challenges. Here are some simple ways that you can tweak your interval sessions:-
· Change the Intensity (speed) of work interval
· Duration (distance or time) of work interval
· Duration of rest or recovery interval
· Number of repetitions of each interval
Mix it Up!
We have already mentioned how adaptable interval training is by giving you hints on how to change the parameters of your workouts, but there are many more ways to keep things interesting and challenging….
How about mixing ‘Sprint’ intervals with some bodyweight exercises? Requiring no extra equipment, you just go for an intense phase on the treadmill and then instead of dropping down the pace, simply pause the belt, step off, and perform a set of bodyweight exercises such as Lunges or Squats! You can vary the workouts as much as you like by using different exercises and rep ranges (e.g. Sprint…20 Lunges…Sprint…20 Squats….Sprint…20 Press Ups….etc) - It’s a total body workout!!
If you don’t have them already, home fitness products such as Dumbbells, a Swiss Ball or resistance bands are an inexpensive and highly effective way of boosting the toning effects of your workouts between intervals on the treadmill.
Also, don’t forget that if your Treadmill has motorized incline, then you can utilize this feature to make your interval training even more challenging and effective with ‘Incline Intervals’!
If you have the gumption (and conditioning!) to go ‘flat out’ for short bursts when interval training, then you can earn rich rewards if you enter the realms of H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training). This technique is rather like interval training except the intensities are cranked up to a higher gear. Although there is no rigid formula, the golden rule of effective HIIT is to alternate short bursts of close to maximum intensity with less intense ‘recovery’ periods working at around a 50% pace.
Benefits of HIIT
· The old saying of “you can train hard or you can train long, but you can’t do both!” is applicable to HIIT. These workouts require undiluted effort, and that type of intensity cannot be sustained for long! Even the most hardy HIIT veterans rarely perform sessions of more than 30 minutes. Great news for anyone that struggles to fit training time into their busy lifestyle!
· A short, sharp session of H.I.I.T increases your Resting Metabolic Rate, which means that for 24 hours after the session (even while you rest) your body is acting like a calorie burning furnace!!
· HIIT preserves your existing muscle tissue! Less intense, endurance exercise may well burn up fat, but it also puts your body at risk of burning up muscle in the process. To compare the effects on body composition between shorter, intense exercise and long endurance sessions, let’s compare the ‘typical’ physique of a sprinter with that of a marathon runner. A sprinter will usually be muscular, toned and lean, whereas an endurance athlete will often be very slight and have little in the way of muscle. When you consider that muscle burns up calories JUST in order to exist in the body, it becomes clear that shorter, anaerobic sessions are just as valuable to your metabolic rate as they are to your toned appearance!
· Obviously, improved Aerobic capacity is another huge benefit of HIIT. This type of training pushes your body to work anaerobically, and as the feeling of gasping for every breath while your heart is pounding out of your chest will signify, your heart and lungs have to work exceptionally hard!
· For 24 hours after your HIIT session, human growth hormone levels can increase by up to 450%! Human growth hormone not only increases your calorie consumption rate and helps recover from training, it also has anti aging effects too!