In today’s article, we’re going to be taking a detailed look at interval training.
Specifically, we’re going to be looking at 15 important benefits of interval training and will be looking at just what it is about interval training that has helped make it become so hugely popular.
When it comes to losing weight, you can probably forgive us for considering the process to be quite difficult.
In fact, it’s one of the hardest processes in the world. Losing weight requires the patience of a saint and the worth ethic of 1000 people.
Even then, it isn’t guaranteed to be smooth sailing.
We’ll assume that you’ve already got your diet under control when trying to lose weight, in which case it’s the exercise that we need to address.
Whether you want to lose fat, get fit, become quicker, or all of the above, the first thing you need to focus on is your cardio.
Cardio is generally boring and tedious.
It seems to drag on forever, and by the time it’s over you’re likely bored to the teeth and drenched in sweat.
Interval training, however, is different.
Interval training is a relatively new training concept that is taking the health and fitness world by storm.
Here’s a look at several key interval training benefits, as well as what it is and how it’s done.
What Is Interval Training?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years, you’ll probably be aware of interval training.
If not, then allow us to bring you up to speed. Interval training is sometimes known as high-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short.
It is a form of exercise commonly associated with cardio, although in reality it can be implemented as part of any training protocol.
With interval training, the basic idea is that the individual performing the exercise will alternate between periods of low-intensity exercise, and high-intensity exercise, for a number of rounds.
At its most basic form, interval training could simply be described as walking for 30 seconds, and then sprinting for 30 seconds, before repeating the pattern over and over again for several rounds.
There is no set time limit for how long your interval training workouts should last, though most workouts last between 20 and 30 minutes.
You can apply the same principle to resistance-based workouts, though in this case, it would mean performing exercises at a high intensity and fast tempo, and then simply resting between sets.
15 Fantastic Benefits Of Interval Training
We’ve taken a look at what interval training is, so it is now time for us to look at several awesome interval training benefits.
1. Burn calories
Exercise, or physical exertion of any kind, is going to burn calories.
If you’re moving and your heart rate is up, calories are being burnt.
We aren’t disputing that.
However. Sometimes when it comes to cardiovascular exercise, it can seem like a whole lot of effort for very little reward.
Most people tend to do steady-state cardio, and will perhaps jog at a moderate intensity for, say, one hour.
After this one hour, they’re lucky if they’ve burnt off more than 400 calories.
People with less weight to lose will lose even less fat.
With interval training, though, the effects are different. Because you’re working so hard, you’ll find yourself burning off a whole heap more calories than if you simply did regular cardio.
A typical HIIT workout, for example, will last roughly 20 minutes, yet during those 20 minutes you could potentially burn off as many calories as you would in a one-hour steady-state cardio session.
But wait, there’s more…
2. Burn Calories After Training
After completing regular cardio, you’ll find that your heart rate returns to normal quite quickly, and you’ll soon catch your breath.
One of the major interval training benefits that we’re going to look at today, however, is all to do with the fact that you burn calories after training.
After you complete an interval training workout, you’ll find that your metabolism increases temporarily for a number of hours.
This is known as the afterburn effect and it is brought on via interval training.
This means that you burn off more calories than you would normally, even in a rested state.
So, after you’ve showered after a brutal interval training session, as you relax on the couch you could literally find yourself burning calories and losing weight.
3. Save Time
One of the greatest benefits that we’re going to be listing today, is based upon the fact that interval workouts help to save you so much time.
Like we touched upon earlier, there is no official time limit for an interval workout, but most people tend to aim for just 20 – 30 minutes max.
During this time there is the potential to burn off several hundred calories, if not more.
Normally to burn that many calories you’d need to be working out for at least an hour, which, when you’re plodding away on a treadmill, can seem like an eternity.
For people that don’t have much time, or simply for people that want to get their workout over quickly, interval training is great.
4. Something Different
If you’re used to doing the same cardio workouts week in and week out, you’ll probably feel as if you’re ready for a break, or something new.
This is where the benefits really become apparent.
You see, interval training offers users something different.
It’s like nothing you’ll have tried before and will help break up the monotony of tedious and boring workouts week after week.
Okay, some may argue that ‘fun’ is a little bit optimistic when it comes to interval training, or perhaps sadistic?
We’ll let you decide on that.
If you can get over the fact that it is grueling however, you’ll find that, actually, interval training is a whole lot of fun.
Alternating between periods of slow intensity and high-intensity exercise makes your training sessions interesting and enjoyable.
Okay, it’s not as much fun as, say, going to the world’s largest waterpark, but in terms of cardio-dominant workouts, you can’t really complain.
Another few examples of the benefits are all based around the fact that interval training itself is so adaptable.
You can take any workout you like and give it an interval-based twist.
Treadmill workouts are pretty obvious, but you could try hill sprints, swimming lengths at the pool, bodyweight circuits, resistance-based circuits, cycling, and much more besides.
Though interval training is highly complex, if you break it down as simply as is humanly possible, it’s basically the process of going slow, going fast, going slow, and repeating several times.
You could even take your chores around the home and garden and give them an interval training twist.
7. Improve Fitness
Another key example of the benefits is how the activity itself helps you to improve your fitness levels, stamina, and endurance.
To begin with, it’s a form of aerobic exercise which helps to work on your aerobic capacity and conditioning in general.
It has also been found to increase your VO2 Max, which means that it helps you to better utilize oxygen in your body for exercise.
By increasing your VO2 max, you are enabling your muscles, heart, and lungs to make better use of oxygen during exercise, which in turn will give you more stamina and energy, and make you a more effective athlete as a result.
8. Preserve And Build Muscle
Now, when people talk about how cardio burns muscle unless you’re literally doing it at a moderate intensity for several hours at a time, several days per week, you won’t lose muscle.
Cardio doesn’t generally build muscle apart from the heart, which is actually a muscle.
HIIT however, is different.
Another of the key benefits is the fact that it can help you to preserve and build muscle.
This is because HIIT can be adapted as part of a weight training routine so you can use it to build muscle.
You won’t build very much muscle doing interval training on a treadmill, but if you incorporate weight training into your sessions you will.
9. Increased Metabolism
As we mentioned earlier when talking about the ‘afterburn effect’ which takes place after you’ve performed interval training.
This process basically causes a spike in the metabolism that lasts for several hours before gradually returning back to normal.
However, there is evidence to suggest that interval training performed on a regular basis can cause the metabolism to increase slightly, and to remain increased for a prolonged period of time.
For people looking to lose weight and enjoy more energy, this is extremely useful.
Doing interval training regularly will allow people to generate more energy and burn more calories, and who wouldn’t want that?
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10. Can Be Done Anywhere
The great thing about some of the main benefits is the fact that the exercise itself can be as basic or as complex as you like.
You can do it in a high-tech gym on expensive cardio machines worth thousands of dollars with all of the latest tech installed, or you can simply go for a walk to your nearest hill, run to the top, walk back down, and repeat several times.
Because of this, you can literally do interval training anywhere you like.
Whether it be a gym, a field, or even a hotel room, you can get an awesome interval training workout if you find the right routine.
11. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Heart disease is the biggest killer in the developed world.
Looking after the heart is more important than ever, yet are we really doing enough to protect ourselves?
If the answer is no, then interval training could be the solution.
Interval training is a great form of cardio that helps to strengthen the heart, reduce cholesterol, improve circulation, and reduce blood pressure.
This means that interval training could help people to prevent strokes, heart disease, and heart attacks, and enjoy optimal cardiovascular health.
12. Reduced Blood Pressure
We touched upon how one of the main benefits is the fact that it promotes cardiovascular health.
One way in which it helps is by reducing blood pressure, as we mentioned earlier.
High blood pressure is known as hypertension.
It can lead to heart attacks, damage to the arteries, damage to the kidneys, strokes, poor circulation, and much more besides.
To control it, people often have to have drugs prescribed, which can also be dangerous in some cases.
A more natural way of lowering blood pressure is to perform interval training.
13. It’s Challenging
Okay, so you’ve been doing the same cardio workouts for months at a time and now you’re finding yourself bored and in need of a challenge.
This is where interval training is so beneficial.
Interval training is not easy.
If it is, you aren’t exercising hard enough.
When you perform interval training you should be dripping in sweat, working as hard as you can, and struggling to catch your breath.
It will feel awful at the time, but after you’ll be glad you did it.
It’s tough, there’s no denying that, but it’s worth the effort.
14. It’s Rewarding
After you complete an interval workout you’ll instantly be glad you put the effort in.
Seeing the work paying off after each session is hugely rewarding in itself.
You’ll feel great and will be glad you made the effort.
15. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Finally, another of the main benefits is the fact that it helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Your blood glucose levels will remain stable during and after exercise, which can help prevent conditions such as diabetes.
With that, we’ll bring this look at the key benefits of interval training to a close.
If you want a new and exciting cardio workout to try, interval training is ideal.