Interval Training 101

interval trainingIf you’re serious about getting into shape and burning fat, then you should probably know about interval training. Interval training incorporates moments of high intensity exercise and short rest periods into your normal exercise routine. High intensity exercises are known to whip people into shape very quickly, and doing them as part of your normal routine can build great endurance and strength and help burn those calories away.

So what are some of the different types of interval training, and are they right for you? This article will primarily use jogging as an example, but you can do interval training on a treadmill, rowing machine, on a bicycle, or in the pool. Once you get the hang of it, you can incorporate certain intervals into your everyday workouts as well.

The primary types of interval training are aerobic and anaerobic intervals.

Aerobic Intervals: Sometimes referred to as 1 Pace intervals, a runner will run at a very high intensity for 1-8 minutes. The runner repeats each interval so that they end up running anywhere from 3 to 6 miles. The longer intervals (those closer to 8 minutes) generally incorporate an equal amount of resting between each interval. The shorter intervals (less than 4 minutes) will usually incorporate a rest time that is half as long as the run.

Anaerobic Intervals: The major difference between aerobic and anaerobic intervals is the recovery. Anaerobic intervals use a much longer recovery time so that there’s no aerobic stress remaining when the runner resumes. A typical anaerobic interval may incorporate 4 minutes of sprinting, followed by a full rest period.

Aerobic and anaerobic intervals make up the foundation of interval training. Most runners will perform them where it’s easy to note the distance, for example at a track or on a marked jogging trail.

In addition to these basics, there are many modifications people make to interval training that make the exercises more accessible to beginners or fun for jogging groups. For example, the beginner’s run/walk incorporates high intensity running with lots of walking in between (rather than slower jogging). This exercise allows new interval trainers to cover much more ground and at a higher intensity than they would have if they were just running.

If you live in a place with lots of hills, you can also take advantage of hill training. Runners who are hill training will run at high intensity up a hill then recover on the way back down. Others reverse the process. Both options are great for building endurance.

If you jog or bike with a friend, you may want to try fartlek. This type of interval training is more random than some of the others and involves picking a random object off in the distance and running towards it with a high intensity. The item could be a bush, sign, or just about anything else. You can do this alone or take turns picking the object and intensity with your partner.

If interval training seems like something you’d like to try, check out this article about where to begin.

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