Since I put together an article about long distance running, I figured it would only be fair to write about the benefits of doing other types of workouts. Interval training combines lighter activity with bursts of intense activity.
How Does Interval Training Work?
Interval training works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. During the high intensity effort, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles ( called glycogen) for short bursts of activity. Anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen. The by-product is lactic acid, which is related to the burning sensation felt in the muscles during high intensity efforts. During the high intensity interval, lactic acid builds and one enters oxygen debt. During the recovery phase the heart and lungs work together to essentially "pay back" this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. In this phase, the aerobic system is in control, using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy.
The Benefits of Interval Training-What You've Been Waiting For
This repetitive form of training, working light, then hard, then light again, leads to the adaptation response, meaning, your body will start to adapt to this new type of workout. The body begins to build new capillaries, and is better able to take in and deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Muscles develop a higher tolerance to the build-up of lactate, and the heart muscle is strengthened. These changes result in improved performance, especially within the cardiovascular system. Interval training also helps prevent the injuries often associated with repetitive endurance exercise, and they allow you to increase your training intensity without overtraining or burn-out. In this way. Adding intervals to your workout routine is a great way to cross train.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise. If you are counting calories burned, high intensity exercise such as intervals are better than long, slow endurance exercise, but you may pay a price.
Although shorter, high-intensity workouts burn the most calories, they aren't always the best option. They are not recommended for a novice exerciser because they can contribute to injuries in individuals who aren't prepared for the physical demands of this type of workout. These types of workouts are also hard to maintain and should be used sparingly. Even a highly fit athlete should vary their workout and have some long and slow days for endurance and recovery. Finally, if you work at a high intensity, odds are you will fatigue sooner and be forced to stop after about 20 minutes. If you go slow, you will likely to be able to continue exercising for a much longer duration
If you're already exercising regularly and progressing in your exercise intensity, you may want to try interval training workouts to enhance your calorie burning. The key to interval training is to continue to push the intensity of the work intervals over the course of several weeks. You should use the same intensity for three or four workouts before increasing it. This will ensure that you progress at a safe and sustainable pace. However, if you are just beginning to exercise, a slow and steady progression of longer and less intense exercise is probably a better option.