Two days ago I talked how important is to go long and not just to concentrate on high intensity training. I just realized I might have given the impression that I don’t believe/like intervals, and I feel the need to readdress that.
Truth to be told, I love intervals. They make for a good 30% of my training routine.
Interval training has been used by runner for years to build speed, endurance and, in general, better fitness.
They combine short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session.
One of the greatest advantages of intervals is that it works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. And it leads to many physiological changes such as an increase in cardiovascular efficiency and an increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid.
The results? Improved performance, greater speed, and endurance.
But that’s not it. According to a recent research conducted at John Moores University in Liverpool, UK, intervals makes to training process much more enjoyable.
Intervals makes training more fun
In the study the researchers recruited eight recreationally active men to participate. They were asked to perform two different types of runs on separate occasions. One was a 50-minute steady run at a moderate intensity. The other was a workout featuring six high-intensity intervals lasting three minutes apiece. Each interval was followed by an easy jog.
After each run, the subjects rated their perceived exertion (how hard the session felt) and how much they enjoyed the workout. While they rated the interval workout as more difficult (14 versus 13 on a scale of 6 to 20), they also rated it as far more enjoyable: 88 versus 61 on a scale to 1 to 100.
Other benefits of intervals
We have already mentioned that intervals help improving performance, speed and endurance.
But that’s not it.
There’s evidence that they might help avoiding injuries associated with repetitive overuse, that are pretty common in endurance athletes. They also allow an athlete to increase training intensity without overtraining or burn-out.
Last, but not least, a lot of calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
It’s worth mentioning that there are some risks involved with intervals. It’s not so shiny and bright as it seems. So it’s important to know both the benefits and dangers.
First of all intervals aren't right for everyone. They're not recommended for a novice exercisers because they can contribute to injuries in individuals who aren't prepared for the physical demands of this type of workout.
They are also hard to maintain and should be used sparingly.
Even elite athletes are vary in their workout and have some long and slow days for endurance and recovery. Finally, if you work at a high intensity, odds are you will fatigue sooner and be forced to stop after about 20 minutes. If you go slow, you will likely to be able to continue exercising for several hours.
There are tons of different intervals training routines to choose from. If you’re a novice, start simple and then move on to something more structured.
Personally, I would recommend to get a trainer (or a friend with a lot of experience) at the beginning when embarking in the “intervals venture”.
Keep in mind that interval training is extremely demanding on the heart, lungs and muscles, and it's important to have a green light from your physician before you start doing them.
The Iron You