Whether you’ve resolved to lose some weight or get into the best shape of your life, interval training can put you on the right path. These workouts, which alternate high-intensity activities with low-intensity ones, have long been shown to deliver impressive results.
Interval training also helps maximize the effectiveness of time at the gym, so it’s always possible to fit a good workout into a busy day.
Here’s a look at what interval training is and how it helps you get into your best shape.
We’ll also explore some of the best workout tactics and interval methods to help you meet your goals.
What Is Interval Training?
So exactly what is interval training? When a trainer recommends interval training to whip their client into shape, they’re talking about workouts that alternate high-intensity exercises with low-intensity exercises or recovery periods.
Incorporating interval training into a workout routine can actually help individuals spend less time in the gym and still maximize weight loss.
Compared to fixed-intensity cardio sessions, interval-training sessions burn more calories over short periods, so individuals don’t have to spend two hours walking or biking every day to get the results they’re looking for.
Another great thing about interval training is different variations bring different benefits, so it’s possible to tailor workouts to meet individual goals.
How Interval Training Works
If you’re wondering how interval training works, it’s actually pretty simple. By going hard for a stretch, easing up, and repeating the process, you give your muscles time to recover from the stress of working out.
The low-intensity stretches also help reduce lactic acid buildup in the muscles, which can actually reduce muscle pain.
Studies have shown, no matter how fit someone is before they begin interval training, this form of exercise increases both the body’s use of fat stores and overall fitness levels.
Interval training even boosts enzyme activity in the muscles. Alternating bursts of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity movements has also been shown to increase metabolism, which, when it’s balanced with a healthy diet, interval training can help individuals keep extra weight off permanently.
The Importance of Warming Up
Before beginning each interval training session, don’t forget the importance of warming up. If you have prior athletic experience, you probably already know a proper warm-up helps prevent injuries.
This in and of itself should be enough to convince you to warm up before each workout. But jumping on the treadmill or stationary bike for a moderate few minutes’ warm-up also helps make the most of your actual workout.
Within ten to twelve minutes of a total body warm-up, you can increase blood flow to your muscles by seventy-five percent.
The extra blood flow means higher muscle temperatures, which means oxygen is more readily available to your muscles. All of this helps you reach peak performance.
Different Interval Methods
In addition to burning fat and increasing overall fitness levels, different interval methods offer serious versatility. You can easily create a regimen to cater to specific goals, such as losing weight or building upper body strength.
For example, biking for a quarter-mile, doing twenty push-ups, and completing quick twenty burpees – all of which you repeat for three sets – is a good way to combine low-intensity training with bursts of high-intensity exercise aimed at a stronger upper body.
Other exercises individuals can mix and match include jumping rope, stair climbing, jogging, walking, tuck jumps, and pull-ups. If you want to start simple, stick to one exercise.
By walking, jogging, and sprinting for a quarter-mile each and repeating for four sets, you’ll have completed a quick and easy interval training session.
Cooling-Down Is Key
Cooling-down is key to a complete interval training session. Warming up maximizes performance during a workout, but the cool-down period eases your heartbeat and body temperature back to their normal settings.
If you were to stop working out too fast, you could feel sick or even faint. Instead, walking for about five minutes to slow your heartbeat will help you gradually feel like your pre-workout self.
It’s also a good idea to stretch during a cool-down. This can also help reduce lactic acid buildup in your muscles, which would otherwise contribute to muscle pain and cramps.