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Fitness Friday: The 7 Great Benefits to Interval Training

1.  Efficient:

Ideally for a busy schedule, interval training lets you squeeze in a workout in the morning after waking up late or during lunch. Interval training is a way to get a great workout in less time. Intervals can be done with 30 seconds to 1 minute of work to one to two minutes of recover (see example to the right), or a method called tabata. Tabata falls under the category of high intensity training and consists of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times, totaling four minutes. Who can make time for a 4 minute workout?

2.  Burn More Fat:

When these intense exercises occur on a regular basis, the body increases its basal metabolic rate (BMR) to handle the new demands put on it. When you create an oxygen debt (for example: heavy panting during tabata) your body has burned off all of the blood sugar (glycogen) it has and needs to replace all of that energy. It does this by burning fat. Instead of trying to use fat while you are exercising, you use carbs as fuel while you are exercising and use fat after the exercise has occurred. The short duration workouts of tabata were shown to burn an average of 5x more calories AFTER their exercise is over.

3.  Healthier Heart:

Interval training pushing us into the anaerobic zone (the wonderful, “uncomfortable” place where breathing becomes difficult and feels like your chest is trying to jump out of your chest) producing cardio (heart) gains, making the heart recover more quickly by pumping blood and oxygen throughout the body more efficiently, thus ultimately reducing the time needed to recover.

4.  No equipment necessary:

Doing high knees, jumping jacks, jump rope, sprinting, jogging in place, fast feet, or any plyometric movement (explosive movement) can get your heart rate up fast. Intervals can even be done inside or outside for a wonderful view as well!

5.  Lose Weight, not muscle:

While steady state heart rate seems to encourage muscle loss, interval training preserves hard-earned muscle mass while advancing weight loss from fat stores.

6.  Increase metabolism:

The increase in oxygen consumption following the interval workouts naturally increases your resting metabolic rate, which, in turn, allows you to burn more calories as a direct result of your workout. So interval training will increase metabolism even outside the realm of the gym, even when you’re at home resting. Cardio spurts combined with body weight resistance exercises (push-ups, dips, planks, squats, lunges) create a high-low-high-low intensity roller coaster which shocks the body’s metabolism and burns more calories on average throughout the workout.

7.  Challenging:

Interval training keeps your mind and body constantly moving. Because it is a reduced time workout, the intensity level is higher therefore pushing the workout to a new level. Interval training offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers an efficient way to see results!