The Benefits of Interval Training

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The foundational benefit of interval training is the convenience and lack of required equipment. Find out why interval training works and if it suits your lifestyle.

High intensity interval training is a training strategy that has been demonstrated to improve health, increase endurance and resilience, reduce stress, burn fat and even improve concentration. Since it requires little equipment and much less time than traditional endurance programs, it is much easier to incorporate into a busy lifestyle. Sprints, box jumps, planks, push-ups, jumping jacks and lumberjacks are all examples of aerobic exercises that can be done in interval form to increase reaction time, strengthen the heart, and build lean muscle and explosive strength. Stimulating fast twitch muscle fibers gives you increased power and a more toned appearance. Almost all athletes train with some form of interval training. The benefits of interval training are best realized through a personalized program. Most people will need to work with a trainer to begin. Since the training is built around heart rates, with the energy expenditure as a calculated percentage of the maximum, exercisers will have to track heart rates, either manually or with a device, at least until they get a feel for it. A one size fits all model will not work, and there are many different kinds of interval training, some using active rest and others passive rest. The basic idea is bursts of intense effort (anaerobic) countered by periods of rest. Here is how to calculate your maximum heart rate: Find your resting heart rate by taking your pulse when you are relaxed and sedentary. Then calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. You'll want to push yourself for one minute intervals, taking your heart rate to about 75-90% of the max and resting until it returns to at least 60%. Mixing it up and keeping the intervals varied works best for building muscle and strength. Interval training that is too intense may have a negative impact, including taxing the immune system, exhaustion and possible injury. Depending on the level of understanding people have about health and fitness, including nutrition, some supporting education may be necessary to supplement this training. Some of the benefits of high intensity interval training include: - Improved overall health -- Researchers working together underneath the auspices of McMaster University in Ontario demonstrated emphatically in a study, Physiological adaptations to low-volume high-intensity interval training in health and disease, how high intensity interval training (HIT) improves health and functional performance in the general population. The study also showed improvement in many chronic disease states, including Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The researchers also created a modified program for less fit individuals, and demonstrated that interval training, albeit at low volume, can benefit nearly everyone.

  • Fat burning -- Weight loss that isn't fat loss can make people even unhealthier by tearing down muscle and straining organs. Just two weeks of Interval training are enough to begins breaking down stubborn fat stores, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

  • Time-effective -- In contrast to endurance workouts, interval training reduces work-out time at least by half, and even more when you calculate the time you don't spend driving to the gym. Because it does not require a large chunk of time, it can be worked into free moments throughout the day. Interval training is actually fun! Unlike the mindless routine of the gym, interval training is an intense experience that can be fun, help you become stronger, and gives you confidence. At its core are exercises that use the body's own weight and movements to build muscle, endurance and strength. At the end of the day, or even in the middle of it, it is the perfect antidote to a sedentary lifestyle.  

Sasha V.

Sasha V.

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Sasha is a professional writer and content strategist in Chicago. She helps businesses ranging in size from solopreneurs to global enterprises with projects in innovation, new ventures and startup culture.

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