Interval training – ‘bang for your exercise buck’
Interval training has been around for a while now and involves working for ‘intervals’ of high aerobic intensity with intervals of recovery in between. Depending on your fitness and exercise goals, you can manipulate the work interval, intensity and relative length of the recovery interval.
The real value in training this way for most people is that it represents really efficient use of time providing that the intensity of the work interval is sufficient. In other words, you get all of the benefits of a longer less intense aerobic exercise session but for a fraction of the time investment. Many people also find that they are able to push themselves harder when training this way because they only need to hold this intensity for a relatively short period of time before recovering and then repeating the effort.
A recent study in the UK compared a group of men who performed high intensity sprints on an exercise bike (Four 30 second sprints at maximal intensity with up to 4 minutes recovery) compared with a group that walked for 30 minutes. The interval group reduced body fat by 33% over the test period compared with the walking group who reduced body fat by 11% and the researchers also suggested that interval training would be better at warding off exercise compared with steady state lower intensity exercise.