Interval training (periods of high intensity exercise followed by periods of low intensity exercise) has been known to be a notably beneficial form of cardiovascular exercise for quite some time. Besides curbing boredom during your workout, interval training can propel many of your fitness goals into high gear.
1. Increase Endurance
There is no set time schedule in interval training. You can formulate your plan by using longer periods of high intensity exercise with shorter periods of rest, or vice versa. This component to this form of training is beneficial in itself, allowing you to customize your workout to best serve your personal goals. For example, short and intense intervals interspersed with short rest periods would be of great use to sprinters, as this forces your body to tap into your glycogen stores for immediate energy. In contrast, longer, lower intensity intervals with short rest periods may be utilized for developing endurance.
2. Rev Your Fat Loss
While it's gratifying to see the total number of calories burned on your favorite cardio machine after a grueling session, it isn't just about the number, but where those calories are coming from. Interval training works so well for fat burning because of a process called EPOC (excess postexercise oxygen consumption). Basically, after high intensity exercise, your body's built-in energy sources become depleted - this is when EPOC occurs. This energy source must be replenished, and can take up to 48 hours to do so. Since your body cannot rely on those inbuilt energy sources, it must find another source - fat. That two-day interim period is when your body is burning off fat while you sit at your desk at work, when you watch TV, and even when you nap.
Also, over time, your muscles become more efficient at storing energy, increasing the demand for fat release. With interval training, your body will begin to transmit new energy to your muscles instead of to fat stores.
3. Fire Up Your Metabolism
Over time, the slow and steady approach to aerobic exercise will cause your body to adapt to your workout more easily, ultimately making it less efficient for fat burning. When you first start exercising, you increase your time and intensity accordingly. The problem is, as this happens, it will take you longer to burn the same amount of calories. Interval training confuses your body, making it more difficult for it to adjust, and burning more calories along the way.
4. Increase Your Lactate Threshold
Surprisingly, interval training is both an aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oyxgen) exercise. During the high intensity segments, your anaerobic system utilizes the glycogen in your muscles for quick energy. Lactic acid (the stuff that creates that all-too familiar burning sensation during high intensity exercise) is the by-product of your anaerobic effort. In this time, lactic acid builds, and is then broken down when the effort is over. At this time, the aerobic system begins to use oxygen to convert your carbohydrate stores into energy.
Over time, your body becomes better at delivering oxygen to your muscles. This then develops the ability of your muscles to tolerate lactate build-up, all the while strengthening your heart. This process can greatly improve your cardiovascular performance.
As if all of these benefits weren't enough, interval training can be completed in just twenty minutes, and doesn't require any kind of special equipment. From professional athletes to those who just want to lose those last five or ten pounds, interval training can be the solution for you!