Interval training has become increasingly popular, with everyone from amateur fitness enthusiasts to top athletes incorporating the technique into their workouts for better results. But is it really as good for you as everyone says?
What exactly is interval training?
Interval training combines stretches of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods. It's all about controlling the lactic acid produced by your body while exercising. During high-intensity periods of exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles faster than it can be disposed of. When it reaches a certain level, known as the anaerobic threshold, you feel an unpleasant burning sensation. The idea behind interval training is to repeatedly push yourself over your anaerobic threshold during the high-intensity periods so your body gets better at processing the lactic acid, meaning you'll be able to train harder for longer periods of time.
What are the positives?
Performed regularly interval training will increase your speed, but there are also plenty of health benefits. As with other types of mid-intensity exercise, interval training can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. You will also burn more calories than you would with a regular workout. Some argue that interval training boosts your metabolism, meaning that your body will continue to burn fat even after you’ve finished exercising – potentially for up to 48 hours! Besides these benefits, interval training is great for those who are short on time: according to a Canadian study, the same health benefits can be achieved during six 20-minute interval training sessions as ten hours of continuous-approach exercise over two weeks.
Sounds good to me – are there any negatives?
Interval training is not for everyone. High intensity training can worsen existing joint problems, especially around the knees and ankles. Those with heart problems should also consult their doctor before attempting interval training.
Even for the fit and healthy, the intense nature of the exercise means it’s easy to overdo it, causing delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), reduced performance, and even injuries, all of which can have a negative impact on your training. Make sure you have a break between sessions of at least 24 hours to allow your body to recover fully.
Interval training is extremely tough and the sensation of lactic acid build-up can be painful, so you might need a little extra motivation. It’s recommended that you improve your fitness with gradually with continuous cardiovascular workouts before attempting interval training – you’ll be more disciplined and therefore more likely to stick to it.
So, should you try interval training?
As long as you’re reasonably fit and don’t have any existing joint or heart problems, interval training is a great idea for boosting your fitness level. Treat yourself to some new Adidas Trainers from K&CO, load up your exercise playlist, and hit the streets!
This is a guest post not written by me.