Interval training: What it is and its benefits

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Static training involves training at a consistent intensity throughout the duration of the exercise. Think jogging.

Interval training, on the other hand, varies the intensity between high and low. Sometimes you are exercising flat out, and at others, you are resting and your heart rate is falling.

Thanks to scientific discoveries, interval training has become significantly more popular in recent years. The majority of news outlets and fitness publications have reported on it.

In this post, we take a look at some scientifically supported interval training benefits. We then provide some workout examples.

Interval Training Benefits

Evidence that HIIT training was highly effective emerged in Japan in 1996. Dr. Izumi Tabata of the country's National Institute for Health and Nutrition wanted to find a way to improve the country's speed skating team's performance. He proposed that the team should exercise intensely for 20 seconds and then rest for 10. The scheme proved highly effective.

Since then, the science of interval training has exploded. And we now have tremendous evidence that it works. Here are some of the benefits it offers.

It's Over Quickly

In the past, trainers would spend upwards of an hour on the treadmill in the hope that it would help them lose weight. But such exercise patterns weren't suitable for the majority of people. It was just too boring.

The typical interval training workout, though, only lasts between 10 and 20 minutes. Yet, despite this, it offers all of the benefits of moderate-intensity exercise.

It Raises Your Metabolic Rate

Secondly, interval training may actually make you burn more calories overall. Studies show that resting energy usage rises after a high-intensity interval training session. Researchers believe that this happens because the training shifts your body's energy consumption patterns from carbs to fat.

It Helps You Gain Muscle

Long cardio training sessions can be muscle-wasting. That's one of the reasons why runners are often so thin. But interval training doesn't produce this effect. Instead, it may help to preserve muscle.

Research, for instance, shows that people who do interval training have more muscle mass after a series of training sessions. It also shows that it complements traditional weight lifting protocols.

It Reduces Blood Pressure And Heart Rate

Interval training may also offer additional health benefits. For instance, evidence suggests that it reduces heart rate and blood pressure in people who are overweight and obese. It is also effective in populations with high blood pressure. Eight weeks of stationary bicycle training, for instance, reduced blood pressure in high-BMI adults as much as regular continuous cycling sessions.

It Can Reduce Blood Sugar

Elevated blood sugar puts patients at risk of diabetes and may accelerate the aging process. However, studies show that high-intensity interval training can reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity in most people to a greater extent than continuous exercise.

It Can Increase Athletic Performance

Lastly, interval training can be a powerful technique to break through fitness plateaus and improve aerobic and anaerobic performance. Research finds that the training technique improves a range of biomarkers in both normal weight and overweight/obese individuals.

Interval Training Examples

There are many different forms of interval training you can try. It doesn't particularly matter what the exercise is, as long as your heart rate oscillates between resting and elevated.

Here are some ideas to keep you busy:

Rotate between 30 seconds of push-ups, and 30 seconds of rest
Sprint 50 meters, rest for 30 seconds, and then sprint again
Do 60-second bursts of stair running, and then rest for a minute
Do 10 burpees, wait 45 seconds, then repeat
Cycle on a stationary bike flat out for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds and then repeat
Perform 10 lunges followed by a 30-second sprint on the treadmill, rest for 40 seconds, and then repeat

If you are considering interval training, there are some things you need to remember.

First, try to push your working heart rate deep into the training zone, around 80 percent of your maximum heart rate during the intense phases. Then, allow it to drop below 55 percent during the rest phase.

Second, if you feel faint or dizzy, stop immediately. Always build up to intense interval training sessions with less demanding routines first.

Lastly, keep training sessions short. 8 to 15 cycles or 10 to 20 minutes is all you need.

exercise | HIIT | fitness