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What is interval training and how does it help?

Interval Training

The best thing about fitness and training is that there are so many different ways you can go about it, depending on your level of ability and goals. Some people like to play tennis, whilst others enjoy going to the gym (followed by the steam room!). The duration of exercises also vary depending on the activity such as long walks in the park that take more time or bashing rubber balls in the squash court for just twenty minutes.

Coupled with a healthy diet including healthy snacks (think cereal bars!) Some exercise experts think that although continuous, medium-paced workouts are good (any exercise is a good thing!) shorter bursts of intense exercise can actually lead to more calories being burned and train the cardiovascular system. This is known as interval training. 

So what is interval training?

As soon as someone mentions cardio training, most people will imagine jogging on a treadmill for half an hour or going for some laps in the pool. Interval training is a type of cardio that instead of longer periods of low or medium intensity, things get turned up to 11 in short bursts of maximum effort with rest periods in between.

For example, if you are interval training and you decide to run, you will go as hard as you can for up to a minute and then walk/rest for a minute before repeating the process. A lot of sports actually incorporate this without really intending to, such as squash or football that require quick busts of fast movement and rest periods when a point is scored.

Why is it good?

Interval training typically takes less time than any other type of workout as it requires so much energy to be expelled so quickly, meaning you can have some great exercise in relatively little time. It also has an effect on your short term metabolism due to the stop-start nature of the exercise meaning your body will continue burning calories after the exercise is over as it has been temporarily ‘confused’ by the intervals of exercise. Finally, interval training can really help train your cardiovascular system to handle higher levels of stress, giving you greater stamina for future workouts to get in great shape.

 Is it for me?

There’s no way around it; interval training is tough. It’s designed to be exhausting, and while the rewards may be great, for some people the effort might just be too much. Together with healthy snacks such as cereal bars and fruit, it can be a powerful ally although It’s not really intended for beginners or the less able. Like any other type of exercise, you need to be sure your body can handle the stress and that you don’t put yourself in danger. If you want to try interval training, start off small. Don’t try and run yourself ragged in the first ever session; build yourself up and make steps towards giving those 20 minutes everything you have.