Interval Training: Beginners Guide

What is it? Interval training alternates periods of more intense exercise with periods of recovery (recovery here means going slower such as jogging, walking, or even rest).

Interval training is probably the most versatile of all the cardiovascular training methods because by changing up the duration and difficulty of the work periods, intervals can be modified to suit beginner, intermediate or advanced exercisers, and used to develop aerobic or anaerobic fitness depending on your goals.

Types of interval training:

Interval training is challenging and effective, with different types aimed at different fitness levels.

Why do it? Alternating intense bouts of exercise with periods of recovery allows you to exercise at high intensities without burning yourself out in a matter of minutes, so you can exercise for longer.

HIIT and fartlek work the cardiorespiratory system, increasing both anaerobic and aerobic fitness. And if you’re short on time, HIIT is especially efficient. It has many of the same effects as long steady state workouts, but does it in a fraction of the time. HIIT also has an incredible effect on metabolism, keeping it elevated for hours after (EPOC). This means you continue to burn a significant number of calories, making it a more time efficient way to lose weight.

Moderate intensity interval training a great way of introducing exercise if you’ve been inactive for some time. Compared to HIIT, there is less risk of sustaining injury or suffering with muscle soreness, and it is more comfortable.

Who should do it? Beginners with a good base fitness (ie. regular moderate-intensity exercise) should start with less demanding intervals and gradually build stamina. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is challenging – mentally and physically. If you do too much too soon or too often, you risk injury, overtraining or you might just plain give up.

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