Interval Training – A great method to improve performance

Guest post by Paul Dunn, Personal Fitness Trainer at Pegasus

If you want a new, fresh and challenging approach to your gym workouts Interval training could be a great method of training for you!!
It is not a fad, but rather a sound method of training, with its foundation based on exercise physiology (proven scientific principles)

What is Interval Training?

Interval training involves alternating periods of high-intensity activity with periods of rest (inactivity) or recovery (low intensity activity). It relies on the principle of rest and recovery to allow you to work harder but in a smaller timeframe.

For example, if walking outdoors is a regular part of your exercise routine, you might include short periods (between 1-2 minutes) of jogging into your walk between lower-intensity periods of walking. A good way of doing this is to jog three lamp posts and then walk for 3 or 4. If you are just starting to exercise, you might simply walk faster between a few lamp posts, allow yourself to recover and than repeat the higher intensity walking. If you are very fit, you might add in sprints to your daily run.

 The Benefits of Intensity Interval Training

  • A more varied and interesting cardio workout
  • More calories burnt in less time
  • Improved cardiovascular endurance
  • Decreased muscle catabolism/increases in lean muscle mass
  • In many cases it is highly sport specific and thus beneficial in improving performance.

 How to Start your Interval Training

The best way to commence Interval Training is to choose a cardiovascular exercise that you perform on a regular basis and yes, that you ENJOY!

There are numerous ways to increase intensity — especially if you are performing Interval Training on our Life Fitness cardio machines such as treadmills, summit trainers, X- trainers or recumbent/stationary bikes:

  1. Increase the resistance of the machine for 1-2 minutes. On a treadmill, you can do this by increasing the incline. The goal here is to try to maintain your previous speed, despite the increase in incline.
  2. On X- trainer machines, steppers or stationary bikes, you can also increase the resistance on the machine, which will require you to work harder in order to maintain the same speed as before you made the increase in resistance.
  3. Another method of boosting intensity is to simply increase the speed on the machine, while using the same level of resistance as you do during your low or moderate-intensity cardio. For example if you are normally jogging on a treadmill at 10 KPH, you increase that to 12.0 or 13.0 KPH  for 1 minute, and then return to your normal speed for 2 minutes to allow you to recover. Once this becomes too easy, you begin to increase the time you run at 13.0KPH, and reduce your recovery time at 10KPH. That’s interval training at its best!!

Who should not undertake Interval Training

With any form of physical activity there are obviously circumstances in which an individual shouldn’t participate. In the case of interval training these are:  

  • If your GP has prescribed low or moderate intensity exercise
  • If you shy away from warming up before exercise. This is more important than ever when interval training.
  • If you have only recently started a cardiovascular exercise regime and you are still building a sound fitness level.

So if you don’t fit into one of the above categories put your new found knowledge about interval training into action.  I guarantee it will give you renewed enthusiasm about your cardiovascular training. Remember the same old training methods will give you the same old results.

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