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Interval Fitness Training: What It Is, and How You Can Benefit from Such Routines

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 3/14/2011

Are you getting as much out of your workout as you hoped when you started it? If you’re not achieving your fitness goals with your current routine, maybe it’s time to try interval fitness training on for size.

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    What is Interval Fitness Training?

    Interval fitness training is all about achieving weight loss or muscle gain goals safely and effectively. Instead of running endless miles on a road or for minutes on end on a treadmill, you can break up your routine, shake off the monotony and see results.

    There are two parts to interval fitness training: exercise and recovery. The exercise lasts anywhere from 10 seconds to three minutes, while the recovery part comprises the 30 seconds to four minutes directly following each exercise burst. As soon as the recovery period is over, the process repeats itself.

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    Types of Interval Fitness Training Routines

    Different types of interval fitness training exist for specific goals. If you want to become a more competent runner, for example, you might try a sprint routine. If you’re into sports and you need to improve your accuracy, you might try agility drill routines.

    Here are some examples of common routine options:

    • Sprint Training: Exercisers spring for several seconds to a couple of minutes at a time. Fast bursts of energy at about 60% of the body’s capacity are key in sprint training.
    • Agility Drills: Sports enthusiasts partake in plyo box jumps, obstacle exercises and lateral running to increase their coordination.
    • Speed Drills: Speed drills comprise of high-cardio exercises like high-step walking, ladder drills and leg hops. The objective is to build endurance and burn fat with the high levels of cardio.
    • Explosive Exercise: Explosive exercise interval routines are great for those who want to build muscle and lose weight. Free weight equipment, like dumbbells and kettlebells, are combined with cardio training for the best of both worlds.
    • High Intensity Interval Training: High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is more demanding than other routines. You can perform some of the same exercises as in the other routines, just with more bodily exertion, heavier weight, more reps or increased speed.

      Many people perform high intensity interval training to save time. Instead of walking on a treadmill for an hour, you might achieve results more quickly by jogging or running for short bursts at a time, which will tire you out and put more strain on your body. You’ll definitely leave each HIIT session feeling more productive than you did with your slow-paced routines.
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    Tips for Interval Fitness TrainingNeed some tips for interval fitness training? Here are some great ways to get the most out of your interval training workout.
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    What are the Benefits of Interval Fitness Training?

    Depending on which types of interval fitness training you participate in, you might experience the following benefits:

    • Increased strength
    • Increased endurance when running
    • Defined muscle tone
    • Weight loss
    • Better cardiovascular endurance overall

    Interval training is structured so as to prevent muscle strain and injury. Some individuals don’t realize that they’re overdoing their muscles when they work out. While “no pain, no gain” might be a worthy mantra to follow overall, literal pain that puts you in the chiropractor’s chair or the hospital bed isn’t the way to go.

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    Tips for Interval Fitness Training

    You can’t just delve right into interval fitness training, or that would defeat the safety purpose of the routines.

    One of the biggest tips for interval fitness training that you need to exercise before each workout is the warm-up. Every interval training session requires a warm-up session full of gentle stretching, gentle cardio or exercises that ease muscles into the more intense part of the workout.

    Another tip is about the recovery period. Your body should not stop exercise completely during this time. But what you do during this period is dictated in part by the routine you choose.

    If you do a sprint routine, you might slowly jog or walk during your recovery. You don’t want to get muscle cramps by starting and stopping with a jolt. Make sure you drink water during your recovery time to avoid getting dehydrated.

    Also, try out different routines to find which one suits your lifestyle best. If you want to bulk up on muscle, high intensity interval training with explosive exercise routines might be right up your alley. But if you’d prefer to just get a productive cardio workout in after your pilates session, you’d probably rather do a speed drill or sprint training interval workout.

    Sources:

    Science Daily: High-Intensity Interval Training Is Time-Efficient and Effective, Study Suggests

    About Sports Medicine: Interval Training Workouts