Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5 Benefits to Interval Training

I'm a mom of a 3 year old and one year old. I think it's safe to say that I don't have tons of time each day to devote to exercising. Honestly, I rarely, if ever (especially lately), leave my house to exercise. So I need to make my time effective. I have to be "wise" with the precious time I have to workout. If you are a mom then I know you're agreeing with me! Let me share a training method that every mom (or person, not just a mom) needs to put into their routine. It's interval training (HIT = high intensity training). 

I'm sure you have probably heard of it. What is it? Well, in short, it's bursts of energy followed by short time of rest. It can be 30 seconds of intensity followed by 30 seconds of rest. It can also be 3 minutes of intensity followed by 30 seconds of rest. What you are doing is training as hard as you possibly can for a short time to the point of exhaustion, followed by time to recover enough (not fully) to do it again. Essentially you are pushing your body's limits to produce faster results. This is SO IMPORTANT for each person. You want results? You want results at a faster speed? Who doesn't?! Interval training is an extremely effective way to get you the results you want. And it works for any level you are at because your max changes over time. 

I just thought I would share 5 benefits to interval training; and how about some examples? 

1. Burns more calories- your heart rate is being taken to extremely high levels (over 80% of with your target heart rate possibly) and because of that your body is heating up and using more oxygen than steady state exercise, which equals calories. A calorie is a unit of heat and calories burned are measured through oxygen intake and out take.

2. Uses anaerobic and aerobic- anaerobic means without oxygen. This means that our body uses energy from our muscles, which creates lactic acid. When that acid builds up we have to slow down, so our aerobic system (with oxygen) kicks in and our lungs and heart work hard to help the body recover. So you are working 2 vital systems in your body in the same workout (usually anaerobic is accomplished with weight lifting and aerobic is with cardio). Talk about multi-tasking and improving your body as a whole! 

3. Increases VO2 max- ok this is referring to your body's lactate threshold. When we exercise we can go so long before lactic acid fills our muscles and slows us down. By interval training we can increase that threshold because of training hard, resting and training hard. Why is this good? Because this means we can do more longer. Training for a half marathon? Interval training can help you run longer and gain faster speed. Keeping up with kids? Yes! This equals more energy just for your entire day as wife, mom, friend, daughter, employee, boss, etc. It helps you have more energy while resting, not just doing endurance workouts. And that is pretty important. 

4. Gets same results or better than long duration cardio- You can do 20 minutes of interval training and burn as many calories as a 60 minute moderate, steady state workout. I don't know about you but I would rather workout less time and get the same results as longer time. Also, by pushing yourself harder in a shorter amount of time you are pumping more blood to all your muscles, organs, and expanding your lungs with more oxygen than in steady state which increases the use of your lung capacity. Basically you are improving the entire health of your body and keeping it younger because you are delaying processes that slow down with age. Ever see your grandma walk up the stairs and take 5 minutes to catch her breath? Well, that can be delayed! Especially if you interval train. 

And because you are pushing at your max each individual workout, this means you are less likely to plateau because you are still challenging your body. Steady state can be more quickly adapted to resulting in less change. So if you see women at the gym still walking at a 3.5 on the treadmill, you're seeing a cycle of little change. Intensity is key to reaching your goals. The beauty is that intensity levels are different for each person and vary within yourself. The more you work, the higher your intensity can get. 

5. Avoids injuries- because you are not training constantly you are not overusing muscles, making them susceptible to injury. Endurance athetes are more susceptible to injury and over-use/burning out. 

So let me give an example exercise for interval training. For one minute repeat this exercise...

4 push-ups
8 mountain climbers (quickly bring your knee to your chest/stomach and back out)
bring both legs in to your hands
jump up
jump back out into plank position
rest for 30 seconds and repeat another minute

Jog in place 30 seconds
Jumping jacks for 30 seconds
High knees for 30 seconds
Rest 30 seconds

If you enjoy runnning, sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds then walk for a minute. Sprint 40 seconds, walk a minute. Continue adding 10 seconds with walking in between and once you hit 60 or 90 seconds bring it back down by 10 seconds each time. 

When you train hard you will see the results. I can do a 20 minute workout and look like the picture above...sweaty. My hair is sweaty and I'm "glistening" all over. I will say that once you cool down and recover, you feel the high. Your body feels great. So work interval training into your normal regimine one to 3 days a week and you'll see results!

Further sources on the subject:
Sports Medicine

*Make sure you are always approved for exercise with a physician, especially if you have any heart issues for HIT because of the range your heart rate will go to.

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