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Interval Training

Interval training is a training philosophy that can be utilized by beginners to experienced athletes. If you are adventurous and willing to mix things up, interval training can help you burn more calories without spending more time in the gym. Interval training is not only for elite athletes, when modified accordingly it can be beneficial for the average joe too.

What is interval training?

To put it simply, it's alternating short periods of intense activity with light activity. For example, let's use walking, if you're in shape, you'd use short bouts of jogging mixed in with your brisk walking. If you've been sedentary or in-active, you might choose to alternate fast walking with a leisurely paced walk. For instance, if you're walking on the street, walk faster between two telephone polls, then leisurely walk for three telephone polls. You can pick whatever you like to use as a guide to measure intervals. Be creative.

What is the benefits of interval training?

1. Burn more calories. Higher intensity = More calories burned. Even if it's only for a few minutes.

2. Improves aerobic capacity. When your aerobic capacity increases, you can exercise with more intensity longer. For example, running a 10 min. mile instead of in 20 min.

3. Keeps it interesting. By upping the intensity with short bursts of intervals you keep boredom to a minimum, also adds a another element to your fitness routine.

4. No special equipment necessary. You simply scale your current routine with short intervals.

How will my body react to interval training?

With intense exercise, your muscles will produce waste products (lactic acid) that contribute to DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Too much lactic acid can make exercise painful and delay recovery. But by using high intensity intervals mixed with lower intensity intervals, you'll do your body a favor by reducing the buildup of lactic acid. As a result your exercise will be comfortable.

Does interval training vary from person to person?

Of course, but interval training can be modified. You can simply vary your exercise routine but by manipulating the variables such as weight used, repetitions, distance, length, speed, or rest/recovery time. An example would be walking for 2 minutes, jogging for 1 minute. How you vary the stimulus and rest period is completely up to you and your imagination.

What are the risks with interval training?

Interval training can be scaled but for some it isn't an appropriate training philosophy. If you suffer from a chronic health condition (obesity, hypertension, diabetes) or have been sedentary for quite some time, I recommend meeting with your doctor and get a medical clearance before embarking on any interval training.

A common thing I see is that people who have been inactive for years one day decide to start exercising and they choose "Bootcamp" to get fit. What they have to understand is that you don't get fit doing bootcamp, you have to be fit to do bootcamp. Bootcamp is an example of interval training on steroids, except for the fact that there is no rest period. 

Also, keep in mind overuse injuries. If you stress your body with high-intesity exercise before it's ready you could hurt yourself, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones. Do it the smart way, slowly. As your conditioning improves, challenge yourself.

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