Interval training and how it works

Interval training

Regular daily movement is one of the 3 most important things you can do to maintain exceptional health.

The others are a diet replete with vegetables, salad and fruits, giving you healthy fibres, micro nutrients and antioxidants – and managing your stress.

At Executive Medicine, we continually see that time constraints associated with modern life are very real barriers to getting regular exercise.

That’s one reason why Interval Training is trendy at the moment. As we have received a lot of enquiries about Interval Training I’ve asked Matt Donovan, our Exercise Physiologist, to explain what it is and how to do it safely.

IMPORTANT – Interval training is not for everyone

Before undertaking any interval training please make sure your heart is ready for such strenuous activity. We strongly recommend you have a stress test and consultation with a doctor to see if interval training is right for you.

What is interval training?

Interval training is shorthand for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and enables you to reduce the time required to workout. It involves high-speed, high-intensity exercise followed by periods of rest or low activity.

Used in cardiovascular workout (e.g. stationary biking, running, rowing, etc.), interval workouts involve:

  • Brief bouts at near-maximum exertion (endurance heart rate)
  • With periods of lower-intensity activity (fat burning or performance heart rate zones)

Research findings

Research is starting to reveal the effectiveness of interval training in improving many aspects of health and fitness. Compared with steady-state cardiovascular exercise, high intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to:

  • Burn more fat
  • Improve oxygen uptake and VO2 max – the maximal amount of oxygen uptake during exercise and a measure of cardiovascular endurance
  • Improve fitness

What does this mean for you?

Better results – sooner and with less investment in time.

These benefits occur even though a high intensity interval training session can take a fraction of the time that a steady state cardiovascular based workout would take to achieve a similar result.

What’s the catch?

The only catch is you need to be willing to work hard while you are training. Interval training is no walk in the park – and interval training is not for everyone.

How does interval training work?

Below are examples of how you can introduce interval training into your routine if you run, bike or swim.

Running and Jogging

  • 3 mins brisk walk to warm up
  • Run hard for 100 – 200m
  • Walk back to the start
  • Repeat 6 times
  • Stretches to finish

Total time: ~ 15 minutes

Interval training on a bike

  • 3 mins warm up
  • 30 seconds at 95% maximal effort
  • 1 min active rest at 50% (cycling with no/minimal loading)
  • Repeat 10 times
  • 3 mins active recovery

Total time: ~ 20 minutes

Interval training while swimming

  • 5 min swim for light warm up
  • Sprint for 30 x 50 metres
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat 6 – 8 times
  • Swim 3 – 4 laps to cool down

Total time: ~ 20 minutes

Note: Although biking, running and swimming are referred to, other cardiovascular type exercise can be used to perform HIIT.

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to know more about interval training, how you could apply it to your exercise program and whether it is appropriate for you, please phone 9290 3259.

Matt is available for consultation regarding physical preparation for sporting activities or treks, exercise programming for injury rehabilitation and musculoskeletal issues, exercise for weight loss and chronic disease management.

About the author

Dr. John Cummins, consultant physician and CEO, specializes in preventative medicine and longevity. With over 30 years of experience, he integrates technology with evidence-based practices to enhance health outcomes.

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