Jay, over at her blog Find Your Strength, has a good post about the importance of interval training for everyone, not just athletes.
As you prepare to undertake a new fitness program, don’t get sucked into programs that prescribe hours upon hours of cardio each week. Not only are those kind of workouts ineffective for most people, they pave the way for overuse injury, and, frankly, boredom.
What is an interval training workout? It’s one where you basically work at a high intensity for a period of time, followed by working (or resting) for a period of time. And then you repeat the cycle.
Why should you train this way? There’s a time and a place for steady cardio training. However, if you want to burn serious calories and improve your overall fitness quickly, interval training is for you. You accomplish a lot more in 30 minutes training this way than you would running or walking at the same pace for the whole time.
Great points. I’ve mentioned at some point before, that 30 minutes of high intensity interval training is probably better than doing 2 hours of steady, slow jogging on the treadmill. DR’s blog, Healthhabits has done a really good series on HIIT.
With the interval training, you will raise your heart-rate more, and you will also raise your resting metabolic rate, which allows your body to burn more calories while you are just doing your normal everyday activities, including sleeping.
When I read Jay’s post, it made me think of another car/body analogy that I think will help people understand why interval training is best… I couldn’t resist telling it to you because it might actually be my best analogy yet.
Let’s say you have a job that requires you to do a lot of driving. Your boss is quite eccentric, and he says that you have to put at least one tank of gas into your company car everyday. You can always stop and put more in if it needs it, but you can never put in less than one tank, and you can’t take any gas out at the end of the day. If you do not follow this, you will be fired!
Now, your boss is going to actually let you choose your vehicle!
You can choose from:
- A gas sipping two door Smart car?
- A gas guzzling SUV with a 400 horsepower V8 Hemi engine?
Oh, and for some reason they both have the same size gas tank.
Which do you choose?
Putting the environment and the cost of gas aside, your job is the most important thing in your life. Therefore, the vehicle with the biggest engine, that burns the most fuel, would be more likely to require you to need to put more fuel into it, and keep your job.
In this scenario, having a powerful SUV is a good thing.
If you only do steady, very low intensity cardio training, your engine will continue to just sip gas, and it will only sip gas while you are driving it.
Doing shorter bursts of high intensity training is like stop and go driving! It burns much more gas than slow and steady driving. ALSO, you’re in luck because your big engine actually leaks gas when you’re not driving it. So, if you didn’t do much driving (exercise) the day before, your job is safe, and you’ve got plenty of room for more fuel tomorrow.
Is everyone thoroughly confused now? Good.