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 Elite Fitness Blog

Interval Training - why do it?

Sep 30

Written by:
30/09/2013 19:01  RssIcon

Interval training has been used by athletes for years to build fitness. Interval training combines short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session. An early form of interval training, "Fartlek" (a Swedish term meaning 'speed play') was casual and unstructured. A runner would simply increase and decrease his pace at will.

Today, athletes use more structured interval training workouts and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to build speed and endurance. This variation of interval training and speed work can be a simple or sophisticated routine, but the basics are still the same as the original fartlek training.

What is Interval Training?

Interval training is built upon alternating short, high intensity bursts of speed with slower, recovery phases throughout a single workout. The interval workouts can be highly sophisticated and structured training that is designed for an athlete based upon his or her sport, event and current level of conditioning. 

How Interval Training Works

Interval training works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. During the high intensity efforts, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of activity. Anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen, but the by-product is lactic acid. As lactic acid builds, the athlete enters oxygen debt, and it is during the recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to "pay back" this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. It is in this phase that the aerobic system is using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy.

It's thought that by performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during practice, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise. This means athletes can exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before fatigue or pain slows them down.

The Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training adheres to the principles of adaptation. Interval training leads to many physiological changes including an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. These changes result in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance.

Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with overuse, common in endurance athletes. Intervals also allow an athlete to increase training intensity without burn-out. Adding intervals to a workout routine is also a great way to add cross training to an exercise routine.

Interval Training Burns More Calories

According to the American College of Sports Medicine,more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise. If you are counting calories burned, high intensity exercise such as intervals are better than long, slow endurance exercise.

Interval Training Workout Routines

Designing the right interval training routine can be sophisticated or casual. Elite athletes may go to sports performance lab to have blood lactate and exercise metabolism testing performed to determine the best interval training routine. On the other end of the spectrum, you can use the casual "speed play" interval training (fartlek). With this routine, simply pay attention to how you feel and set your intensity and duration accordingly.

If you want something a bit more structured, you can come to our classes that use the interval training technique like Tabata or Interval Spinning - as well as the new spin class The Sufferfest.

We tend to use 4 variables to manipulate your interval training program including:

  • Intensity (speed) of work interval
  • Duration (distance or time) of work interval
  • Duration of rest or recovery interval
  • Number of repetitions of each interval
We use interval training in several of our classes, Spin, Sufferfest, Tabata and Circuits just a name a couple.....

Making use of this type of training helps the vast majority of the members at Elite whether they are high class athletes, wanting to keep fit, wwanting to lose weight or just enjoy a good sweat!  

You can see the range of classes we offer on our timetable - all now with Calorie Burn and tonign ratings so you can pick exactly the class you need....
http://www.elitefitness.co.uk/Classes/Timetable.aspx

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