If you are interested in getting fit using the minimum of effort (like me!) you must have heard about high intensity interval training. The original idea came from a Japanese gentleman by the name of Izumi Tabata, but many people have looked into his ideas and tried different variations on the same idea..
I found a study which really surprised me. I know that intervals can get quick results, but this was unbelievable!
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, interval training means repeating short bursts of very intense exercise a number of times. But the idea is that the total amount of time taken is much less than you would need to put in to obtain the same results from conventional training.
The thing that shocked me about his study was the time span required to make real differences genericoitalia.it. It was SO short. In just 2 weeks, exercising 3 times a week, the participants in the study managed to increase their speed by 10.1% in a cycling study. The exercise sessions weren’t even that extreme. Each one consisted of between 4 and 6 ‘sprints’, each lasting about 1 minute, and separated by around 4 minutes rest. That’s a total time outlay of around 25 minutes, 3 times a week, plus warm up and cool down time. If you’ve ever tried to improve your speed or endurance before in running or cycling, you’ll know that 75 minutes a week is far too little to make that much difference.
In fact, this study actually defined what you would need to do using conventional training to achieve the same results. They found that ‘normal’ intensity exercise could achieve the same results in just 2 weeks (which again surprised me!) but in this case you would need to spend between 90 minutes and 2 hours on each exercise session. So it’s theoretically possible…but who has that much spare time these days.
Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that intervals can completely replace endurance training. To build up to a marathon you will need to do some long runs. And if you want to burn some fat, the total energy burn of endurance training significantly outweighs that possible with interval training. Also, interval training can be so intensive that you run more risk of overuse injuries to muscles and joints.
But as a way of giving your performance a great boost in a short period of time high intensity interval training can make a huge contribution. You just need to be careful not to push too hard. As always – push, but listen to your body, especially when it say ‘NO!’.