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Interval Training For Weight Loss

How Can Interval Train Help You Lose Weight?

When it comes to losing weight while also building a solid foundation of fitness, most of us jump straight into steady state aerobic activity without taking a second thought. 

And while I admit that there is nothing inherently wrong with a nice long jog, or decent ride on the bike, I would also argue that this type of exercise does very little for improving our fitness, especially when it comes to losing weight in as short a timeframe as possible.

But fortunately for us, there is an excellent alternative, Interval Training.

What is Interval Training?

I am sure you have heard about interval training at one time or another, but to provide a little clarity on the topic, interval training can essentially be described as short bouts of high intensity aerobic activity, separated by short bouts of low intensity aerobic activity.

With this in mind, a very simple example of an interval training session may be one minute of running at a fairly rapid pace followed by two minutes at a light jog, which could be repeated for a total of 21 minutes (or seven intervals).

Keeping this in mind, interval training can easily be applied to any exercise modality, and tailored towards anyone’s individual level of fitness.

With this, I realize that you might be thinking, ‘why is this important?’

Well, because interval training offers a host of benefits that isn’t seen with more traditional methods of steady state aerobic exercise.

Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training is one of the most bang for your buck methods of exercise that you can undertake. It offers a host of positives from both a physiological standpoint and form a practical aspect also.

Interval training requires minimal time commitment

One of the biggest positives associated with interval training is that it can be completed in an extremely short amount of time.

Because we are spending substantial periods exercise at a much higher intensity than we would normally, we stress the physical systems of the body in a HUGE way. This means that we need less total time to elicit a substantial training response.

Considering a solid interval training session can be completed in as a little as 15 minutes, this is one of the most time effective methods of exercise in existence, making it perfect for those with a tight schedule or minimal free time.

Interval training elicits huge improvements in fitness

Further building upon the previous point, as the high intensity bouts of activity during our interval training are well above the intensity that we can physically maintain for an extended period of time, the body is forced to adapt to a much greater degree.

This means that we become increasingly efficient at removing lactic acid from our muscle tissue, while our ability to shuttle oxygen to that same muscle tissue also increases – the result of which means we can work at much higher intensities for a much longer duration.

Interval training promotes fat loss

Interval training is unique in that it doesn’t only allow us to burn calories during exercise, but also well after we have completed our training session.

Because interval training places the body under high amounts of physical duress it requires a prolonged period of recovery. This means the body has to work overtime to provide those nutrients and proteins essential to recovery to the muscle tissue.

This results in a large increase in metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after we have completed our training session, making it a much better option for promoting weight loss than its steady state alternatives.

Does interval training have any downsides?

Now it may sound like interval training is almost too good to be true, which is why I should briefly mention its small downfalls.

Firstly, interval training is hard.

Because we are working at such high intensities we are placing the body under increasingly large amounts of stress. This makes the session much harder than something simple like a light jog or a long bike ride. 

As a result it requires both hard work and some dedicated effort to complete a single session.

With this in mind, because interval training is so challenging, it can also take a bit of time to recover from – which means we should use it sparingly. 

To further elaborate on this, 2-3 interval training sessions per week (ideally separated by 24-48 hours) should be more than enough to see large improvement in fitness and promote substantial fat loss.

Secondly, it does require a small amount of mental effort.

Because we do need to perform timed intervals, it does require us to keep track of our session’s duration. While this isn’t too challenging, it is still a little more difficult than a steady state bout of exercise where we can plod along and think of whatever crosses our mind.

Recommended Interval Training Bouts

I should reiterate that interval training is extremely versatile, in which we can use a variety of different intervals if we so desire.

Despite that, because it is so challenging, I recommend you start slow and ease yourself into it.

The below table outlines some of my favorite interval training bouts that can be used during any sort of exercise, including running, swimming, or cycling.

Conclusion

Interval training is one of the most effective forms of exercise if you are looking to increase fitness and lose weight FAST. In saying that, it can at times be extremely challenging – as such it is important that you start slowly and really ease yourself into it.

By following the protocols outlined in this article you can start implementing interval training into your program today – and please let us know how it goes! 

 

Sources

Gibala, Martin J., et al. "Physiological adaptations to low‐volume, high‐intensity interval training in health and disease." The Journal of physiology 590.5 (2012): 1077-1084. From: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2011.224725/full

Burgomaster, Kirsten A., et al. "Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans." The Journal of physiology 586.1 (2008): 151-160. From: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2007.142109/full

Gibala, Martin J., and Sean L. McGee. "Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain?." Exercise and sport sciences reviews 36.2 (2008): 58-63. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18362686

Tomlin, Dona L., and Howard A. Wenger. "The relationship between aerobic fitness and recovery from high intensity intermittent exercise." Sports Medicine 31.1 (2001): 1-11. From https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200131010-00001