To cut a long story very short, the benefits of interval training are increased aerobic and anaerobic capacity, increased cardiovascular efficiency, mobilization of fatty acids and as a result, increased fat burning, large calorie burning, time efficient training, decreased risk of overuse injuries, decreased risk of overtraining, scaleable workouts for any fitness level and a really fun way of training!
The Sciencey Bit
If you prefer long stories, the major benefit of interval training is that it works both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.
The anaerobic system works at very high exercise intensities and is only sustainable for short periods of time. Anaerobic means without oxygen, and the complex energy systems produce lactate (commonly thought of as lactic acid but that is a whole other page of explanation!) which at high levels and in conjunction with other factors cause muscular failure. That is the burning, aching feeling in the muscles at the end of a drop-set or sprint.
The aerobic system works at lower intensities and is sustainable for long periods of time. During aerobic exercise, muscle glycogen is gradually depleted, glucose is released by the liver into the bloodstream and fats are mobilized. The famous fat-burning zone is a low level aerobic zone where the majority of calories burned are those from fat. The problem with this low-level zone is that the body isnt burning many calories and consequently not burning much fat.
Higher intensity aerobic and anaerobic exercise burns less fat as a percentage of overall calories but because far more calories are being burnt there is a higher total amount of fat being used.
This is the sweet spot of high calorie burn, high ‘fat’ calorie burn and longer duration of exercise that are all benefits of interval training not always found in other forms of training.
Do you want to look more like a sprinter than a marathoner? If you do, interval training is the perfect protocol for you.
An interesting side topic is that when the body has used all of its easily available glucose and glycogen, generally after one and a half to two hours of moderate aerobic exercise, the body starts shutting down and this is the hitting the wall that marathon runners often mention.
Eating high carbohydrate, high GI foods will offset this by providing the carbohydrates that the body is craving. The brain uses solely glucose and in times of glucose depletion the body will be shut down to preserve the higher functions. This goes some way to explaining the staggering and crawling you see at the end of Ironman Triathlon events. It also explains why your bodybuilding friend is a zombie in the last week of contest prep. No carbs = poor social skills
See my quick weight loss tips page if you want help to lose weight quickly but correctly.
There are many ways to manipulate the intervals but dont worry, my high intensity interval training pages are the place to find the circuits you need. Ive done the work so you can spend your time exercising not researching!
Interval training is hard but very effective, so rip into the workouts and let me know how you go.
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” – anonymous
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