Interval Training. Is It For You?

There are many fads that go through the fitness world and it becomes hard for people to sort through the hype to see what is real. One of the current surges is interval training and it has a lot of positive results that support it.  While it is certainly fast because you only exercise for short bouts, it is nowhere close to easy.

Interval training’s format is short, intermittent exercise performed at very high intensity that is repeated with rest breaks or low-intensity exercise periods in-between.  Exercise can be performed for several seconds up to several minutes, depending on your goals, and then a rest break or exercise performed at a low intensity to allow for recovery.

An interval training workout generally lasts only 15-20 minutes, but because of it’s high intensity you are totally wiped out at the end. “My legs feel like jelly”, is a common quote from participants.  This workout is not for sissies, as it is very difficult.  If you are not wiped out, you are not performing the workout correctly.

When you exercise, your body changes or make adaptations to this stimulus, and the adaptations from interval training are much like those associated with traditional aerobic activity.  This means that this type of training can be used for fat burning.  Even though the duration of exercise is rather short, you are still burning calories during your “rest breaks” of low intensity exercise.

Typically, interval training is done with running or biking, with periods of greatly increased speed followed by recovery periods of a more casual pace.  This type of workout will burn calories but do little for total body muscle tone.  Many of the clients at Sensible Fitness have goals of toning up and losing weight, so we have an established interval training protocol that incorporates weight training for toning with cardio intermixed for fat burning, which offers the best of both worlds.  It has worked great as the rush of daily life does not offer a lot of extra time for prolonged exercise.

In my opinion, you should not eliminate traditional aerobic exercise entirely as it is unlikely that interval training gives you all the benefits that longer bouts of exercise offer, but it would be a great addition to a stale or monotonous program.  The biggest challenge might be mustering up the discipline to make yourself perform this challenging format without me there to thrash you with my whip!


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