Intervals: How Vigorous Exercise Can Help Boost Your Fitness Fast

Intervals: How Vigorous Exercise Can Help Boost Your Fitness Fast

Strengthening a muscle hurts at first, but when the muscle has healed the strength remains. In order to become fitter, you must increase your body’s ability to take in oxygen and distribute it around your body. You can only do this with intense exercise that stretches your body’s abilities to the near maximum. Over time, your maximum will increase. It will become much easier to perform activities which were once difficult. What once took eighty percent of what you had, will now only take sixty percent. You will be able to run faster for longer, ride up steeper hills, or lift heavier weights. It is that simple. New research has confirmed that a small amount of very vigorous exercise intervals can help athletes — even beginners — make stunning fitness gains in only a short amount of time.

New Research On Intervals and HiiT Training

Research recently published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine has shown that one intense exercise session per week coupled with four relaxed exercise sessions offers almost three times the benefit than five relaxed exercise sessions. To put things simply, if you push yourself extra hard in only one workout per week, you will be receiving a far greater fitness benefit than if you work out at the same intensity every day.

The researchers took twenty-nine men and women who were fairly out of shape and started them on an exercise program where they used treadmills and stationary bicycles. The researchers split the men and women into three groups. One group (the control) did no exercise at all, one group performed low-intensity exercise, and one group performed four days a week of low-intensity exercise plus one workout session of high-intensity intervals: they worked out at one hundred percent oxygen capacity for one minute between eight and twelve times, with a couple of minutes of recovery time between each interval. After three months the group that performed the intervals had increased their VO2max (a measure of fitness) by a greater amount when compared to the group that did not exercise at all. The interval group was also fitter than the group that exercised but did not train using intervals.

What can be learned from this research?  New athletes especially can use interval training to gain fitness efficiently and quickly. The aerobic benefit of interval training means that you may see very real results in a very short amount of time. If you build up a strong foundation using interval training, you will find it easier to stick to your exercise plan in the long term, and it will be easier to overcome physical and psychological hurdles if you are already moving toward your goal. You can also use interval training to work your way toward a specific goal: let’s say that you want to be able to run a 5k. Instead of running two or three miles a day, every day, reserve one day a week in which you will do sprints instead. Even if you rest on other days, you will still receive a net fitness benefit of the vigorous exercise. Your metabolism may be kicked into higher gear by the intense workout, too.

Staring Out With Intervals

If you are just starting out on your journey to fitness, intervals can be especially helpful. If you only have the time to work out a few times a week, don’t despair: you can use interval training to make one of those workouts really count. That way, even if you only have time for a quick jog or brisk walk on other days, you may still receive a greater fitness benefit than, say, if you jogged for five days in a row. If you are pressed for time, you can reserve a day when you have the spare time — say, Saturday — for your interval workout. On other days, you can go for a jog on the treadmill, do a steady state video workout, or use the stationary bicycle, at moderate intensity.

When you perform the same routine day after day, getting fit can seem very monotonous indeed. If you mix things up with an interval training session once a week, you can break through boredom at the same time as you make intense fitness gains. So how do you introduce intervals into your training routine?

If you are jogging or cycling, intervals are very easy. Start out at an easy pace. When you feel that you are sufficiently warmed up, run or cycle hard for ten seconds. You should feel as if you are at around seventy to eighty percent of your maximum effort. If you are a runner, try running up a hill and walking back down it. Over time, you can increase the amount of time that you spend at near-maximum effort, but remember that the idea is to stretch yourself then take time to recover. Stop doing intervals once you have done around ten repeats, or sooner if your legs get sore. This may sound easy, but you will definitely feel tired afterward!

As with any new exercise program, you should check with a doctor before you start, especially if you have health issues or you haven’t exercised in a long time. Take it easy at first, and remember to stretch. Once you lace up your running shoes and get out there, enjoy! Every moment you spend being active is a step in the right direction.


Related Articles By Cathe:

Hiit Training: Get More Done with Less Perceived Effort

High-Intensity Interval Training: How Intense Does It Have to Be?

How High-Intensity Interval Training Slows Aging at the Cellular Level


Related Cathe  Friedrich Workout DVDs:

HiiT and Interval DVDs


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