Training Tip of the Week

Interval Training

Interval Training is a type of cardiovascular exercise which involves short periods of high intensity, interspersed with periods of less intense recovery, e.g 1 minute sprint, 1 minute jog.

Interval training is very effective in improving fitness, and great for weight loss, as this type of training burns many calories often in a shorter time period than lower intensity continuous training. Short periods of work and rest allow training and heart rate to be elevated to a much higher intensity than can be achieved with continuous exercise, whilst being less monotonous. Interval training often feels like it goes faster, as the exerciser has small blocks or goals to occupy them throughout the workout.

There are endless combinations of work to rest ratios – 30 secs on / 30 secs off, 1min on / 1 min off, 2 mins on / 2 mins off etc. To begin with equal periods of work and rest will be challenging eg 1:1, however as you become fitter, longer work than rest periods can be introduced to increase intensity e.g 1:2.

Intensity for the work and rest periods can be calculated in different ways. One method is to use your heart rate as a guide. The work periods should be challenging at approx 85 – 90% of of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). MHR is calculated by; 220 minus your age, e.g for a thirty year old (220 – 30 = 190 MHR). Rest periods should be at around 65 – 70% of MHR, where intensity is decreased but not ceased, this is known as an ‘active recovery’. The best way to calculate heart rate during exercise is to use a heart rate monitor. Or many cardio machines also display heart rate.

If you don’t have access to your heart rate another way to gauge intensity is to use a ‘perceived rate of exertion’ scale e.g how hard the intensity feels to you on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is very easy, and 10 is very hard. Work periods should feel 8 or 9 out of 10, and rest periods should feel 5 to 6 out of 10.

Interval Training can be used with any form of cardio from swimming, riding, rowing to running, and is very time efficient, where 30 minutes of Interval Training can burn more calories than 60 minutes of continuous exercise!


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