What is Interval Training?
When it comes to fitness, or honestly any activity, it can be difficult to remain fully attentive and focused the entire time. According to research, human attention spans are shrinking. One study from Microsoft even claims that our attention span, on average, lasts only eight seconds. So, it makes sense that you might like to switch things up throughout your gym sesh; we get bored easily, and that’s a fact.
Today we’re talking about interval training, the answer to your fitness training fatigue. Interval training is an exercise method that involves a series of short and intense exercise spurts with periods of rest in between. Typically, these high intensity intervals activate anaerobic exercise, meaning they get your heart pumping fast. Alternatively, the periods of rest in between are for recovery and lowering your heart rate.
In interval training, the length of periods of work and rest depend entirely on the type of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout you’re doing. Some, like EMOM workouts, are on minute-long intervals and feel super intense; others, like Fartlek training, are intuitive and don’t rely on a timer at all. Interval training encompasses a broad range of training styles, so there’s lots of room to find what works for you.
The Benefits Of Interval Training
Interval training has a plethora of benefits. From maintaining engagement to preventing injury, to improving anaerobic ability, to speeding up the time it takes to accomplish your workout goals, the list goes on and on.
Since interval training is an exercise structure, the benefits also vary depending on the exercises you perform. Interval training is adaptable and takes the shape of your needs and fitness abilities.
When To Do Interval Training
The great thing about interval training is that you can do it throughout your entire workout.
As with all workouts, warm-ups should be first on the agenda. When you jump into an intense interval session without warming up your body, you risk pulling muscles and injuring yourself. However, you can even incorporate interval training into your warmups as long as you are gentle with your body and do not push into overdrive from the get-go (we do not recommend warming up with intervals if you are unfamiliar with exercising and do not yet understand your body’s limits).
One thing that is useful to have when doing an interval training workout is a watch or a timer to keep track of the amount of time you spend on an exercise. Counting in your head can be distracting and difficult, and simply guessing could lead to overuse and makes tracking your progress challenging.
Interval Training Warm Up Examples:
Running is an excellent way to get your body warmed up and ready to go at the start of your workout. Begin jogging at an easy pace. When you feel your body becoming more comfortable and your heart rate beginning to increase, push yourself to 50% rate of perceived exertion (RPE) for 30 seconds, then slow down again. Continue for a few intervals, and then push yourself to 75% RPE. Since you’re warming up, do not push yourself beyond what is manageable.
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that benefits your entire body. As with all warm-ups, you’ll want to begin at an easy and comfortable pace. Do not push yourself immediately since your body hasn’t had the chance to warm up. Once you feel your body beginning to warm up and your heart rate has increased above a resting state, you’re ready to begin a few intervals. Begin pushing yourself at 50% RPE for 30 seconds, then come off and return to your original pace. Continue this until you feel ready to increase to 75% RPE at 30 second intervals.
Biking is also an awesome way to get your body warmed up without the impact that running, for example, has on your knees and hips. Hop on the bike machine at your local Chuze or take the real thing to the streets! It is important to note, though, that if you take your bike out for a ride, you won’t have as much resistance control because you can’t control the terrain. By now you’re probably onto the pattern, but just like running and swimming, begin at an easy pace that doesn’t push your body too hard. Once you feel your heart rate rising and your body warming slightly, crank the resistance up (on a bike machine) or pedal faster and find a slight incline to climb up on the road and push yourself for a short 30-second interval at 50% RPE. Do this a few times until you feel ready to go harder, and on your next interval, push yourself to 57% RPE.
Interval training can be incorporated into most warm-up activities because the point of a warm-up is to get your heart rate up and blood pumping throughout the body.
Incorporating an Interval Training Program Into Your Workout Routine
Once your body is warmed up, you can dive into a multitude of interval training exercises.
You’ve probably heard of the many trending interval training exercise methods such as HIIT and Tabata, for instance, that circulate the fitness world, but you might not know that these are both examples of interval training. Both HIIT and Tabata are structured around short intervals of exercises that get your heart rate up between periods of rest, the difference between them is the amount of time between rests and intervals.
You can incorporate interval training into your fitness training schedule to help you speed up your training and achieve your goals faster. If you’re working towards increasing your leg strength, for example, you can build a workout routine that incorporates various calf, quad, and glute exercise intervals. By pushing yourself hard on these exercises, you’re improving at a faster rate. Had you stayed at a steady, moderately challenging pace, you would have needed more time to achieve the same result.
Interval training can be paired with cardio exercise and strength-building exercises. From sprints to squats, interval training caters to many different fitness goals and levels. And while interval training can technically be done from anywhere, working in a controlled environment that allows you the space and safety to physically and mentally push yourself is important.
All of our Chuze Fitness locations were designed with your safety and enjoyment in mind. It’s important to us that you have top-tier space to work hard to accomplish your goals, and our gyms are the perfect environment for interval training and fitness success. Stop in today!