Interval Training – An Introductory Guide

Interval training - An introductory guide

Interval training involves structured periods of work and recovery aimed at developing both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. This type of training develops the body’s lactic acid tolerance abilities as well as developing all of the physiological systems involved during continuous (steady state) training .


Why use interval training?

When exercising at a higher intensity (which is the case in most sports) sufficient energy requirements can no longer be met solely from the aerobic energy system. Therefore, the lactic acid energy system must be used to provide the remainder of the energy. Without sufficient training of this energy system an individuals performance will be effected due to the lack of positive adaptation in two key areas:


  • Ability to tolerate high levels of lactic acid
  • Ability to remove lactic acid from the muscles


Interval training and fat loss

Interval training has also been shown to have greater excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Commonly referred to as the after-burn. Which basically means an individuals metabolism is elevated higher and for longer post exercise after interval training when compared to continuous training. Which could therefore have a greater influence on fat loss.


How to plan interval training

Intervals are very structured. You specify the time or distance of the interval, the intensity of the interval, the length of the rest period between intervals and how many intervals will be conducted. This makes it very easy to measure progress.


Example of an interval training programme that can be carried out on a Concept II rower


  • 250m 80-90% HRmax followed by 60-seconds rest x 5 sets


Most people can get great improvements in cardiovascular fitness using a 1:1 ratio of work to rest i.e 1-min work/ 1-min rest. Although, high intensity interval training sessions (HIIT) have been shown to have a very significant impact on metabolism, anaerobic and aerobic capacity which uses a 2:1 work to rest ratio i.e 1-min work/30-seconds rest. Interval training is generally tougher than continuous training and should not be conducted every day. Unlike low intensity continuous training which can be conducted every day, and multiple times a day.



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