Interval Training

Interval training can be used by anyone from professional athletes to professional dog walkers. Interval training entails varying an exercise routine to include short periods of increased intensity. Elite athletes first used interval training to improve their speed and performance in sports.

Why Interval Train?
You don't have to be involved in sports to interval train. Interval training offers many benefits to your health like improving cardiovascular fitness, increasing speed and burning more calories. Interval training is dynamic because it can be used in many types of activities and in many environments. You can use interval training in swimming, walking, running and in weight training and you can do it at home or at the gym.

Exercise Myths Debunked
People have long been advised to work out for long periods of time with low-intensity activity to burn calories from fat. Therefore, many people work out at the same intensity level for the duration of their exercise. But we now know that interval training can help you increase your metabolism, burn calories from fat and carbohydrates and keep burning calories long after you finish working out. For people on diets hoping for some weight loss, interval training is a great way to make the most of your time at the gym.

Types of Interval Training
There are two types of interval training, one for people at the beginner and intermediate level and one for more advanced athletes. Health experts recommend those people just starting interval training should use the beginner level. The beginner level means that you would work out at a greater intensity for 2-5 minutes and then go back to a comfortable stage for 2-5 minutes.

Intensity Levels
You need to monitor your heart rate in order to calculate your intensity levels. Your lower intensity level would be around 50-65% of your target heart rate while the higher intensity would be just below 85% of your target heart rate. If you find monitoring your heart rate too difficult you can use the rating of perceived exertion scale. This is a scale from 1 to 10 with 0 being no exertion and 10 being the most exertion you can handle.

Can Everyone do Interval Training?
Almost everyone can incorporate interval training into their fitness routines. Those people who are over the age of 40 or have chronic health conditions should consult their doctor before they begin a new fitness regimen, though. Because you can control the variables of intensity, speed and duration, interval training can be adapted to walking or hiking in the woods to swimming laps or jogging on a treadmill.

For example, if you were walking, you could increase your intensity for 30 seconds and then resume your normal walking pace for a minute. The next time, you could increase the intensity for two minutes before resuming your normal walking pace.

Effects of Interval Training on Muscles
You may have found that, after weight training or aerobic activity, you have pain or tingling sensations in your muscles. The pain is from the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Because interval training alternate high intensity and low intensity exercise, your muscles are better able to adapt and you will not have as much pain.

Benefits of Interval Training
Just a few of the advantageous of interval training include:

  • Burn calories more efficiently
  • Increase metabolism
  • Improve speed and endurance
  • Enhance cardiovascular fitness
  • Keeps your workout exciting
  • Prevent injury

Risks of Interval Training
Some risk you need to be aware of before trying interval training:

  • Potential for over-training
  • Potential for injury

If you would like to try interval training and belong to a gym, arrange to have one of the gym's personal trainers set you up on a interval training program. If you workout at home or on your own, then look for ways to vary the intensity of your workout.

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