What is it? Interval training alternates periods of intense exercise (e.g. sprinting) with periods of recovery (recovery here means going slower such as jogging or walking – not taking a time out!). Interval training is probably the most versatile of all the cardiovascular training methods because by changing up the duration and difficulty of the work periods, intervals can be modified to suit beginner, intermediate or advanced exercisers, and used to develop aerobic or anaerobic fitness depending on your goals.
How long, how hard? It depends! If you’re a beginner, you might stick to aerobic intervals (i.e. keeping intensity moderate), while if you a more advanced exerciser you’ll go for anaerobic intervals (i.e. high intensity). They’re both equally challenging and effective,but aimed at different fitness levels. To learn more read about interval training.
Why do it? Alternating intense bouts of exercise with periods of recovery allows you to exercise at high intensities without burning yourself out in a matter of minutes, so you can exercise for longer. Interval training works the cardio-respiratory system hard, which improves anaerobic and aerobic fitness, making all your other workouts feel easier. Interval training also raises the lactate threshold, improving endurance and power. If you’re short on time, interval training is ideal. Even at moderate intensity, interval training is thought to burn more fat that other form of cardio. At high intensity, interval training also has an incredible effect on metabolism, keeping it elevated for hours after (EPOC). This means you continue to burn a significant number of calories, making it an incredibly effective way to lose weight.
Who should do it? Interval training is challenging – mentally and physically – especially high intensity interval training (HIIT) or anaerobic training. If you do too much too soon or too often, you risk injury, overtraining or you might just plain give up. Demanding HIIT is for seasoned exercisers. Beginners should start with less demanding intervals and gradually build stamina.
Example workout – row 500 meters as fast as you can, rest for two to three minutes and repeat five more times.