Benefits of Interval Training

I get asked all the time “what type of training is the best?”. And I’ll always say back “it depends on what your goals are”! There is no better form of training, it varies for each individual and your own personal goals, whether that be weight loss, muscle building, maintenance etc. So I thought I would put together a series of posts about the different training types and their benefits, firstly to highlight how great they all are(!) but also to help guide you on what type might be best suited to you, depending on your own personal situation.

And seeing as a lot of the workouts I share on here tend to fall into the “interval training” category, I figured this was probably a good place to start!

Let’s talk about the anaerobic system

Anaerobic means “without oxygen”. So without getting too scientific, the anaerobic system breaks down glucose stored in our muscles for energy without using oxygen, allowing us to access a larger amount of energy, in a short period of time. This process is called Glycolysis for anyone interested! Our anaerobic system kicks in when we start exercising at a higher intensity, as there isn’t enough oxygen initially to fuel our muscles, so it relies on Glycolysis for the shorter bursts of energy. If we were then to continue at a steady rate, our aerobic system would then kick in to maintain the pace (e.g. if you were going for a 5km run), however when we do interval training (training for short periods at a high intensity and then resting), we are mainly training anaerobically.

So, what is interval training?

Interval training is any type of workout that involves you training for short bursts of time at a high intensity (anything from 10 to 90 seconds) repeatedly. It really is that broad and could be anything from sprints on the treadmill to a 1 rep max deadlift! It is worth noting that not all interval training is anaerobic, if you are a beginner and training in intervals but at a lower intensity (e.g. incline walks intervals on a treadmill) it is most likely you will be using your aerobic system, which is still highly effective and a great place to start your exercise journey. I will talk more about the aerobic system and training aerobically in my next post.

Examples of the most popular types of interval training are:

  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Sprints
  • Tabata Training
  • Fartlek Training
  • Plyometric Training
  • Powerlifting

What are the benefits of this type of training?

  • Increased bone strength and density, reducing your risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis later in life.
  • Boosts metabolism due to the increase of lean muscle mass developed from this type of training. Your BMR (Basal Metabolic rate – resting metabolism) increases the more lean muscle mass your body stores.
  • Improved rate of fat loss. Research has shown that interval training has a moderate effect on reduction of body fat.
  • Better endurance and increased VO2 Max. Consistently training in this way will start to feel a lot easier over time and that’s due to two reasons. Firstly, our body increases its “Lactate Threshold” which is it’s ability to handle lactate (aka lactic acid as a lot of us know it), the bi-product of glycolysis that makes our muscles achey when we workout! And secondly, our body learns how to use more oxygen to convert to energy allowing us to exercise longer, which is know as an increase in your VO2 Max (volume of oxygen consumption).
  • Lifts your mood. And last but definitely not least, just like most other forms of exercise, interval training has been linked to a decrease in depression, anxiety and tension. And I don’t know about you guys, but I love how energised and motivated I feel after a workout (especially one that can be done in under 30 minutes!).

Don’t forget to check out my free workouts if you fancy giving interval training a try, or if you want something a bit more personalised, drop me a message and we can chat further!

Photo by Li Sun on

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