Interval Training is for Everyone

A good introductory article about interval training for those who are not familiar with this very important form of exercise:

excerpt (some popular interval workouts)

  1. Repeats are the most popular type of interval training. A set number of intervals over a set distance at a set pace with a set rest or recovery. For example, 4 by 1 mile repeats at race pace with 2 minutes rest between each interval, or 20 by 400 meter repeats faster than race pace with a 200 meter active recovery between intervals.
  2. Ladders are a variation of repeats where you do not run the same distance for each interval. Common ladders will climb up or down in distance, or will climb up and then down. For example, 1×400, 1×600, 2×800, 1×600, 1×400 is a common ladder where you start at 400 meters and climb up to 800 meters and then back down to 400 meters. The “x” replaces the word “by” and means that you run the distance on the right of the “x” as many times as appear before the “x”. Not all ladders are progressive, and this type of workout could be any changing distance for each repeat. Rest and recovery between the intervals of a ladder may remain constant or may change based upon the distance of the interval that you just ran.
  3. Fartleks are a form of interval training where you never stop running throughout the workout, and will normally (but not always) run your intervals and recovery for a set duration rather than for a set distance. For example, you may run 10×1 minute repeats with 3 minutes of recovery running between each repeat. The name “fartlek” comes from the Swedes and means running play. Fartleks don’t need to be timed; one of my favorite runs is to just go out and randomly choose a target to run fast towards at regular intervals without rhyme or reason. I might sprint to a telephone pole or after a pedestrian up ahead of me or an intersection, with however much recovery between each interval as it takes me to find a new target that peaks my interest.

The article brings to mind that interval training can have a large number of variations. And as such, can be tailored to meet the needs of nearly everyone. Of course, if you have a pre-existing condition then you should consult your doctor first (in fact, if you are over 30, you should see your doctor more often than you think, since prevention and early detection are key to preventing and combating most diseases.)

When I am working with a client who is significantly overweight, out of shape, elderly, etc. I make sure that we start very slowly. An interval where you walk slowly for your work period, and then walk slower for your rest period is still an interval. We all must start somewhere.  And over a period of time the client improves and is able to handle harder intervals.

I linked to an article in the New York Times the other day about interval training, and one of the quotes is this one:

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that after just two weeks of interval training, six of the eight college-age men and women doubled their endurance, or the amount of time they could ride a bicycle at moderate intensity before exhaustion.

This level of improvement is remarkable as the participants in the study were already rather fit! (it’s always harder to make gains if your already fit).  And I’ve seen this kind of improvement in clients myself.  I would think it a miracle if I hadn’t been a witness.

And what’s great is that there is such a variety of options:  you can do them on a track, a treadmill, the elliptical, rower,  or with dumbbells, kettle bells, or a bar.  The possibilities are endless.  So, there is no excuse if your goal is greater fitness and lower fat stores.

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One response to this post.

  1. Okay, so I am fast becoming a fan of your blog advice! I have been VERY fit in the past and am now VERY overweight. Your blog is inspiring me! I have interspersed Burpees throughout my day and plan to put a few drills in our homeschooling schedule. WOOHOOO! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

    Reply

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