Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Benefits of Interval Training

What is interval training?

It's not as complicated as you might think. Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.

Take walking for example. If you're in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you're less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you're walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks. If you’re already a runner, run at a normal pace for 4-5 minutes then sprint for a minute – then back to your normal pace again.

With interval training (HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training) you are taking the body from an aerobic state and throwing it into an anaerobic state for only a short period of time. Anaerobic exercise is where the body is exercising at such a rate that the blood stream cannot supply oxygen to muscles fast enough.

Anaerobic exercise is essentially exercise without oxygen. This happens during high intensity and cannot be held for long periods of time. When the muscle that you are exercising is in this “oxygen deprived” state large amounts of lactic acid are produced. Lactic acid begins building up inside the muscle at a rate faster than it can be cleared creating muscle failure.

Evidence now suggests that a workout with steep peaks and valleys can dramatically improve cardiovascular fitness and raise the body’s potential to burn fat. Hum… How you might wonder?

By challenging both you aerobic and anaerobic systems simultaneously, you're improving your body's ability to burn calories by leaps and bounds. You're adding new muscle, which speeds up your metabolism of fat in general. You're getting an aerobic workout that burns lots of calories. You're pushing yourself beyond any plateaus that you may have hit doing the same thing over and over again. Your body is becoming a more efficient fat-burning machine.

Here is a description on how this process works. It might be a lot to take in (trust me, I read it about 4 times myself), but I’m breaking it down as best as I can.

Carbohydrate sources of glycogen (carbohydrates reserves stored in the muscle) can get used up fairly quickly in intense exercise. After the exercise the muscles find themselves depleted of energy stores. They have used up a large portion of there glycogen. These need to be replaced as soon as possible so the body starts converting all carbohydrates from the blood stream into glycogen rather than using it for energy. In simple terms, the muscle needs to refill its stockroom of energy so it starts taking the sugar out of your blood and converting into stored energy inside the muscle.

While this is going on the body still needs energy to run itself. The only area it can turn to for another source of energy is the fat supplied in the blood stream which is now readily available in an oxygen rich environment. This process is intense for about an hour after exercise, but continues for hours after the training. All this time the body is using fat which is pulled directly from our fat stores as its energy source.

Besides fat loss there are many other benefits from Interval Training. These include:
  • Getting a toned, athletic look - don’t just lose weight, mould your body into a shape that will be turning heads;
  • Tons and tons of energy - Imagine having energy for a full exciting life, you will have more energy than you know what to do with;
  • Super fitness - having a lot more cardio endurance and fitness than the guy who spend two hours on the treadmill each day;
  • Chase away disease - this exercise does wonders for lowering blood pressure and staving type 2 diabetes away; and
  • Energy - Automatically as you body loses weight, you will become aware of extra energy and vitality

I came across a very informative website on Interval Training, which I highly recommend:

It has 4 different interval training programs: 30 Second, 60 Second, Belly Fat Program, and Body for Life Program.

It goes into detail on the website as to what you should be doing on each of these. I have personally done the Body for Life Program when I was in college and I had success with it. After reading the “Lose Belly Fat Fast” program (which is an 8 week program) – I think I’m going to give it a whirl. Not to lose anymore weight, but to merely tone up before our summer vacation coming up in June. This vacation means a lot to me, why???

Because first of all it’s with family. We rent a house and all move in for a week. It’s loaded with everything you can imagine. It’s also the same house we went to last year where I saw pictures afterwards and it immediately prompted me to start Making the Cut where I’ve proceeded to lose about 25 lbs. So, after this summer I will be taking pictures and I’ll compare last year to this year. It will also be my blog’s 1st Birthday!

Here is a direct link to the programs that I described above. Just scroll to the very bottom of the page and you will see the links.

Don't forget to hop on over to see what Sandy has to say today at God Speak's Today. It's Fitness Friday!!!


As for you Gettin' Fine in '09 folks. My post for the week is directly below this one.


Sandy at God Speaks Today said...

Girl, you will NOT believe this, but I was just finishing up my post for Fitness Friday and I hopped over to see what you posted about before I added your link. I posted about the exact same thing. I even got my info from the same sight. Is that not the funniest????? A double dose of interval training this week, for sure.

Great minds...
Love you!

Debbie said...

Sarah, this was a very informative post! Thank you for sharing your links with us too. I will check them out. Isn't that funny that Sandy didn't even know this was your topic this week? Too great minds think alike!!!!

I appreciate your comment on Heart Choices too. :)

I'm glad you will be participating in Fitness Friday. I will be sure to follow you and get to know you better. And congrats on the upcoming blogiversary!

Sandy at God Speaks Today said...

Oh...and thanks for going into all the anaerobic stuff. I, too, had to read it several times before I understood it. And considering I was so foggy last night, I didn't even try to explain it. You did a fabulous job. I think our two post compliment one another beautifully.

I was thinking about trying one of those interval training programs too....hmmmm...

hiit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hiit said...

Great blog! You forgot to add Interval training
its full of tips on interval training.