Alter the intensity of your routines for better results
Interval training, Part 1
Times change. It’s now widely accepted in the fitness industry that long bouts of exercise are not the most effective way to burn body fat and increase cardiovascular fitness. A number of years back, ‘interval training’ training became the latest catch phrase for trainers. Today, interval training still forms an integral part of most effective training and exercise programmes.
Yet confusion remains. So what exactly is interval training? Quite simply, an interval is a short period of high-intensity exercise which is followed by a short period of low-intensity exercise or active rest period. A given number of these high-to-low intensity sets over a period of time gives you an interval session. Interval training can be performed using cardiovascular exercise (running, cycling etc) or resistance exercise using either bodyweight or some form of outside resistance (dumbbells etc).
- It burns lots of calories. The constantly changing intensity levels make specific energy demands on your body, calling on the body’s different energy pathways (fats, carbohydrates etc) to fuel your exercise. As well as improving the efficiency of these energy pathways, more calories are burned this way.
- It is suitable for all levels. No matter, where you are starting from, there is an interval training programme for you. I use all kinds of intervals in my bootcamp classes and in my own training and I KNOW how effective they are.
- Interval training boosts your metabolism. Yes, because of the stress placed on the body and those energy pathways I spoke about, your body has to work hard for up to 48 hours after an interval session to help your muscles recover. This means more calories burnt for you. You don’t get this effect in so short a time from any other training protocol.
- It is time efficient. It’s all about quality, not quantity. An interval session should not take more than 20 minutes. The key to an effective interval session is intensity. Getting the balance right between pushing yourself on the high-intensity part and recovering on low-intensity phases is key to gaining the best results.
- Interval training offers variety. There are literally thousands of combinations of exercises and routines you can employ when interval training. I have used hundreds of routines in my bootcamps alone. Variety means goodbye to boredom, exactly what you want to hear if the thought of getting back to your old routine gives you the heebee-jeebies.
Next week we’ll look at cardio interval training. You’ll see why repetitive long cardio routines can actually make it harder to burn off body fat, I’ll tell you how to pitch the intensity of your interval workout and suggest an interval routine for you to get started.
Paul O’Brien is a fully-certified Personal Trainer (ACE) and holds a national qualification in Exercise and Fitness. He is also a certified Life & Executive Coach with the LBCAI (Ireland). Paul is the founder of ‘Bootcamp West’, an innovative and exciting program of fitness classes. He also designs and trains programs for individual athletes and teams. To contact Paul call 086 1674515, or check www.bootcampwest.com for details of current classes.