Interval Training For Fat Loss: What Is It?
The term “interval” refers to a period of time between two or more events. A common example would be when one day it’s hot and sunny, then another day it’s cold and rainy. An example of interval training is performing multiple exercises with short rest periods (i.e., intervals) during which the exercise intensity increases gradually over time while the duration of each rest period decreases.
There are many different types of interval training including:
1. Long Slow Distance (LSD) Intervals – These are performed on a stationary bike or elliptical machine.
During LSD intervals, the heart rate is monitored continuously throughout the workout. The goal is to increase your VO2 max and improve your endurance without increasing your overall workload too much. You will feel like you’re riding a bicycle through the hills!
2. Sprint Intervals – These are performed on a track or road.
During sprint intervals, you perform several bursts of high-intensity activity such as jogging, cycling, swimming laps, etc. The goal is to increase your speed and stamina while decreasing your total work load.
3. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – HIIT stands for high intensity intermittent training.
HIIT workouts consist of repeated bouts of very brief intense exercise separated by longer periods of recovery. A good example of a HIIT session is a 20-minute session of sprinting (high intensity activity) interspersed with 60 seconds of medium intensity jogging (recovery).
4. Steady State Intervals – Steady state intervals involve working at an elevated heart rate for a prolonged period of time.
The goal is to elevate your heart rate to between 65-85% of your maximum heart rate and maintain it for 30-90 minutes.
5. Explosive Intervals – These intervals consist of performing exercises that utilize fast twitch muscle fibers such as plyometrics (e.
g., jumping jacks) or throwing exercises for a prolonged period of time. The goal is to enhance muscular endurance and anaerobic capacity.
Research has shown that interval training is more effective than continuous exercise at improving cardiorespiratory fitness and health and fat loss while requiring less time commitment 1-2. These benefits can be achieved with HIIT and steady state intervals 2.
Why Is Interval Training So Great?”
Most people, including myself included, are always pressed for time. As such, interval training allows you maximize your time in the gym or wherever you choose to workout at. Interval training is proven to be more effective than continuous exercise and with less time commitment required. This is obviously great news for those of us that are always strapped for time.
Is Interval Training Right For Everyone?”
One of the great things about interval training is that it can be modified to fit your level of fitness. It can be modified for those just starting an exercise program to help increase their fitness level as well as those who are already fit and looking to increase their endurance and overall health. Interval training allows you to increase your fitness level without performing prolonged or continuous exercise
3. This may increase the likelihood of exercise adherence by lessening the time commitment required.
One common concern with interval training is its intensity. Many people are not used to working at such a high intensity and commonly feel like vomiting while performing certain exercises (e.g., sprinting).
If you are someone that has not worked out in a long time or you have a condition that prohibits you from working out, it may be best to consult your physician before performing intense exercise. It is also wise to start off at a lower intensity and work your way up as you get conditioned to this type of training.
Will I Lose Muscle Mass If I Do Interval Training?”
A common misconception with strength training is that you will become “soft” or lose muscle mass if you perform long duration aerobic exercises. This is untrue for several reasons. First, if you are strength training while performing aerobic exercise, your body will not have enough energy (ATP) to sustain the aerobic activity while maintaining muscle mass. Second, muscular contractions actually stimulate muscular contraction–therefore, by performing both aerobic and strength training activity, a muscle will be stimulated on two fronts.
One of the biggest benefits of interval training is that you do not need to spend hours in the gym. You can get a really good workout in less than half the time by performing high intensity exercise with less rest and no prolonged, low intensity activity. There are many interval training programs that you can perform with little to no equipment (e.g., running up stairs, walking on hills, jumping rope).
Do I Need to Warm Up Before Interval Training?”
Just as you should with any form of exercise, it is best to warm up before performing an interval training program. This can be done in several ways. A few minutes of walking or easy jogging will get your blood flowing and muscles loose. Stretching before and after will prevent injury and allow you to move freely during your training session.
You can also perform an active warm-up. This consists of low intensity activity similar to what you will be performing in your training session (e.g., if you are going to be sprinting, walk fast or jog lightly for a few minutes).
This not only gets your muscles ready to work, but also warms up your joints and gets your blood flowing.
Are There Benefits To Interval Training Over Continuous Exercise?”
This question is actually up for debate in the exercise community. Some feel that interval training may not provide as much benefit when compared to other types of training such as continuous exercise. However, this really depends on what your fitness goals are. For example, if your goal is to increase your aerobic capacity (e.g., be able to run a mile without stopping), continuous exercise is a must as it forces your body to work harder and longer. Interval training, however, may improve your anaerobic capacity (i.e., your ability to work at maximum intensity) more quickly than continuous exercise can.
If your main goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or tone your body (as opposed to increasing aerobic capacity), then some form of interval training may be more beneficial. This is because intervals not only increase the energy required for a particular activity, but also stimulates growth in both the anaerobic and aerobic systems. This means that you can achieve both goals (i.e., weight loss and muscle tone) simultaneously through interval training.
This can be especially helpful when participating in a sport where you need to develop speed and power quickly (i.e., football, basketball). The harder you work, the more you challenge your muscles. By changing up your speed and intensity during intervals, you not only improve your muscle tone, but also improve your agility and quickness.
If you are looking to get faster and increase your aerobic capacity, then interval training may be right for you. If you are looking to improve your overall fitness (e.g., lose weight and tone), then some type of interval training may also be right for you.
One thing to remember is that no matter which type of exercise you choose, you will see benefits as long as you are consistent and work up a good sweat.
Can I Do Interval Training By Myself Or Do I Need Equipment?”
You can certainly perform interval training on your own if you have the room. Stationary biking, running, and even jumping rope are all activities that can be done by yourself. Other forms of interval training, however, may require the use of some equipment.
A great example is using free weights or weight machines at your local gym. By performing fast/explosive sets with weights, you can raise your heart rate and develop your muscles (and increase your overall fitness). Just remember to start out slow and work your way up.
Furthermore, if you have a treadmill or an exercise cycle (elliptical), you can get a great interval training workout by increasing the difficulty level as you go or by changing the incline. The same goes with the rowing machine. Changing the difficulty level as you go not only keeps you interested in the exercise, but also helps you avoid getting too bored.
When performing exercises such as squats and deadlifts, using a barbell is preferred over dumbbells as it takes your arms out of the movement and allows you to focus on your core strength.
Remember that you do not necessarily need to go to a gym in order to perform these exercises. With some creativity, you can perform many of these interval training exercises at home or even outdoors provided that you have the necessary equipment.
In fact, by combining bodyweight exercises with a cardio machine such as a stationary bike or treadmill, you can effectively create your own personal gym anywhere you go.
What Are Some Tips For Interval Training?”
When performing intervals for the first time, it is best to start out slow and work your way up. Beginners should aim for working at a pace/speed that they can maintain for at least 30 seconds, but no more than 1 minute (depending on your fitness level, this may be 20 seconds/20 seconds or 40 seconds/40 seconds at first). After this warm up interval, you should increase the intensity to a point where you are working at a very hard pace (you should not be able to hold the pace for a long period of time).
These high-intensity intervals should be followed by a low-intensity interval of 2-5 times (once again, depending on your fitness level) the length of the preceding high-intensity interval. This is known as the “workout” and should be repeated 3-5 times.
As you get more fit, you should increase the length of your high-intensity interval and decrease the length of your low-intensity interval. However, as you improve, there is no set rule that you must follow. Some people prefer to work at a high intensity the entire time or even perform an entire workout at an all out maximum intensity.
Although I would not recommend this to a beginner, it is certainly a possibility if you have been training hard for a while.
Exercise Order Option 1: Warm Up, High Intensity, Low Intensity, Cooldown
Exercise Order Option 2: High Intensity, Warm Up, Low Intensity, Cooldown
Of course, you are not obligated to perform the entire workout at high intensity or even perform an entire “workout”. You can break up the exercises and do several shorter workouts throughout the day if you find this more convenient. For example, you can do one high intensity/low intensity workout in the morning and a second at night.
The choice is entirely up to you.
What if I am Busy Or Don’t Have A Lot Of Time?
As explained above, you can break up your high intensity intervals with warm up and cool down activities. You can also perform several shorter interval training sessions throughout the day (e.g. one session in the morning and another in the evening).
This will not give you as much of a cardio workout as if you were to do a single longer session, but it still provides many of the same advantages.
It is also important to remember that you can always use the powers of your mind to increase your heart rate and provide your body with some good stress. This can be done through visualization or with the help of audio stimuli (e.g.
an exercise tape).
What If I Am Unmotivated?”
This section is not going to be a long one.
It is important to remember that changing your life takes effort. If you do not make an effort to improve your health and well-being, then you are never going to achieve these goals.
Once you decide to make the change, it is important to keep in mind that everyone starts somewhere. You may not be able to run a mile at first, but that does not mean you should give up. Just keep working at it and you will get there eventually.
It is also important to set small achievable goals that are based on your current fitness level. For example, if you have never worked out before, then running a mile might be too much too soon. Instead, start by walking a half mile and then gradually increase the distance as your endurance improves.
Some people also need encouragement to keep them on track. Perhaps you can find a workout partner or a personal trainer to keep you on track.
Getting the support of friends and family can also be a great motivator as well. Tell them about your plans and enlist their help as well. They will probably be happy to help you out, especially if you are helping them in some way (helping with childcare, for example).
Finally, there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for reaching short term goals. As long as you don’t “over do it”, there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself every now and then.
“What If I Have A Hobbie That Is Very Physical (e.g. rock climbing)?”
Go for it!
As was mentioned before, just because you are trying to improve your health does not mean that you have to become a “junkie”. Exercising more does not mean you can no longer do the activities you enjoy.
That being said, it is still important to listen to your body. If at any point you feel pain when doing a particular physical activity then it is probably best to slow down a bit. Incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle is important, but there is no point in hurting yourself.
A Word On Weight Lifting
Bodybuilders spend hours each week pumping iron and many people seem to think that this is the only way to get in shape. This is simply not true. Lifting weights can be a safe and effective form of exercise, but it is not for everyone.
Some people will probably find that lifting weights is not challenging enough for them. If this is the case, then you might want to consider other more challenging forms of exercise (e.g.
running, aerobics, etc.)
Others may find that they really enjoy lifting weights. If this is the case, then you might want to join a gym or seek out other more advanced weight lifting exercises (e.g.
try doing squats using a barbell rather than the smith machine).
It is also important to remember that you do not have to get big muscles to be healthy. Some people get caught up in the body building culture and forget that weight lifting is a form of exercise and not an end in itself. If you are focusing on getting “bigger” you may want to re-evaluate your priorities.
If you are going to be doing any serious weight lifting you should make sure to learn proper technique from a competent instructor. There is nothing worse than injuring yourself by doing an exercise incorrectly.
What You Need To Get Started
If you make exercising a priority in your life, it is important that you have the proper equipment to do it properly. Many people get stuck in their homes because they don’t even own a set of inexpensive weights.
The good news is that you probably already have most of the equipment you need to get started. If you already own some running shoes and comfortable clothes (athletic wear), then you are probably ready to go.
Other items you may want to get include:
– A Water Bottle (this can help keep you hydrated during your exercise routine)
– A Watch (this is important if you are timing your workouts)
– Some Hand Weights (if you decide to start lifting weights)
If you want to invest in some actual fitness equipment, here are some of the most common items you may want to purchase:
– An Exercise Bike
– An Exercise Mat (for floor exercises)
– A Skipping Rope
– A Stability Ball
– A Step Platform
As you get more into fitness you may want to purchase more equipment, but for right now the items listed above are the bare minimum required to get started.
-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=-
Are you satisfied with your accomplishments? In the time that you spent on this task, how far could you have gotten in real life?
-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- =-=- You’ve been going about this all wrong! This isn’t a battle of steel or strength at all; it’s a battle of wits. You can’t win by fighting them directly; you have to outsmart them. Since you’ve been here, you’ve learned a lot about the creatures that inhabit this place. You know that the nymphs and satyrs have been supporting Lord Rostov. Their homeland is protected from any possible invasion due to being hidden by magic, so they don’t have to worry about any enemies. Hell, they’ve even conquered land from Karzac’s tribe. You know that you can’t destroy them, but if you could just free the creatures that they’ve enslaved, then it would destroy Rostov’s source of cheap labor and force him to pull back to his own territory.
You decide to go with this new plan.
You head back to the tower and begin your preparations. When you’re ready, you head back to the Wildlands.
It takes a week of sneaking around and hiding before you get a good opportunity to release the animals. You find a village that contains cages full of every kind of animal from lions to birds. The inhabitants of this village seem to be Halflings, which would explain why they have such a large amount animals.
They also would never suspect an animal of opening the cages and releasing the animals.
You begin to open the cages one by one and herd the animals in the direction of the Wildlands. The first few times you’re spotted, but once the creatures are all out, you quickly hide and let them go on their way.
Soon, you’re nearly out of animals to free, and despite your somewhat altruistic reasons for doing this, you still feel good about your actions.
That is until a group of Halflings come out from their homes with weapons in hand. “
Just what do you think you’re doing?”
one of them ask.
“Well, you see…the thing is…” You stutter trying to come up with an excuse.
“You better just get out of here before we turn you into rabbit food!” another exclaims, hitting you with a small club.
Suddenly there is a loud rumbling sound followed by large objects emerging from the ground.
“Shit! Its orcs!” One of the Halflings shouts.
The orcs haven’t seen you yet, but the Halflings have and one of them isn’t willing to let you escape. He charges at you as fast as his short legs will allow and bashes you in the head with his club. You go down and feel a foot smashing into your head, crushing it to nothing but pulp.
You have died by the hands of the very creatures you were trying to help.
Sources & references used in this article:
High-Intensity Interval Resistance Training (HIRT) influences resting energy expenditure and respiratory ratio in non-dieting individuals by A Paoli, T Moro, G Marcolin, M Neri, A Bianco… – Journal of translational …, 2012 – Springer
… of eight weeks of aerobic interval training and of isoinertial resistance training on risk factors of cardiometabolic diseases and exercise capacity in healthy … by P Bruseghini, E Calabria, E Tam, C Milanese… – Oncotarget, 2015 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Youth resistance training by A Faigenbaum – Colorado Springs: NSCA Hot Topic Series, 2009 – academia.edu
The effects of aerobic versus resistance training on cardiovascular fitness in obese sedentary females by S Chaudhary, MK Kang, JS Sandhu – Asian journal of sports …, 2010 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Impact of resistance circuit training on neuromuscular, cardiorespiratory and body composition adaptations in the elderly by S Romero-Arenas, M Martínez-Pascual… – Aging and …, 2013 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. by JE Donnelly, SN Blair, JM Jakicic… – … in sports and exercise, 2009 – europepmc.org
Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association by AD Faigenbaum, WJ Kraemer… – … Journal of Strength & …, 2009 – journals.lww.com
Pediatric resistance training: benefits, concerns, and program design considerations by AD Faigenbaum, GD Myer – Current sports medicine reports, 2010 – journals.lww.com