Interval training is the ultimate fitness mashup, blending the speeds of both the tortoise and the hare. The benefits of this workout — pushing your pace, then slowing down to recover just so you can push your pace again — will certainly motivate you to play with your speed. If you haven't already added them to your cardio workouts, here are seven benefits of interval training.
While cardio exercise is necessary to losing fat all over your body, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity, interval training targets your waistline. Adding bursts of speed can help you lose stubborn abdominal fat, which is a boon for your skinny jeans and your overall health. Having a waist size over 35 inches if you're a woman puts you at a higher risk for heart disease and some cancers.
Got a Need For Speed?
The most obvious benefit, but still worth noting, is that interval training will make you faster. Picking up your pace when training with intervals helps to increase your speed, whether you run, bike, or swim. If you're working toward a personal record for an upcoming race, then don't skip your speed work. Here are interval workouts for biking, swimming, and running. Triathlon, anyone?
Keep reading to learn five more reasons to kick it up a notch.
Up Your Afterburn
Interval training increases the after-burn effect. This means that postexercise, your body burns more calories, even during rest or sleep, after doing intervals than after doing a steadily paced workout. Science suggests that to maximize this effect, you should alternate between three minutes of speed and three minutes of recovery, or slow bouts, for 30 to 60 minutes — after warming up, of course.
No doubt about it — interval training is efficient. Pushing your cardiovascular system by adding intervals means you burn more calories in less time. By alternating between fast and slow, you can work out harder and longer than if you were just pushing your max speed. Efficient intervals mean you can spend less time at the gym and more time in the sauna.
Even though interval workouts might be shorter than your other workouts, this form of exercise will increase your endurance. Long runs and rides will be easier if interval training is part of your regular exercise routine. Another bonus is that climbing hills will feel easier too.
Decrease Your Resting Heart Rate
The fewer times your heart beats per minute, the less wear and tear there is on the mechanics of the organ. Interval training makes your heart more efficient, so it pumps more blood with each beat, reducing the number of beats per minute.
Interval Training Works With All Forms of Cardio
Intervals may not be for everyone; it's best to have a strong cardio base before pushing yourself with intervals. And interval training doesn't have to mean sprinting. Use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to moderate your speed and effort. However, intervals can be done with every kind of cardio. You can play with your speed on the elliptical and on the rowing machine. I like to think that the walk/run programs are an introduction to intervals.