Exercise: Interval Training

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Interval Training 

We have all looked for exercise to help maximize weight loss.  Which ones work and which ones do not?  All exercise will work for weight loss if you have a calorie deficit, but some work better.

What is interval training?  Interval training is a type of exercise that combines various lengths of set intervals of extremely high intensity activity interrupted by periods of lower level activity such as walking, light jogging, slow cycling, or stretching.  Combining these short, fast bursts of high intensity activity with longer periods of low intensity sustained activity not only allows for some recover between the high intensity periods, it also keeps the metabolism burning calories.  This form of exercise combines the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercise in one routine.  

Spinning Class

Spinning Class

You can convert almost any of your exercises into interval training.  For example, if you run for exercise, you can alway walk the curves and sprint the straight stretches on the track.  You repeat this as many times as you can.  Each time you do this you will improve a little.  

Examples of Interval Training:

  1. Spinning Class
  2. Circuit training
  3. Weight Machines – alter weight and pace
  4. Walking and Jogging
  5. Stairs – alternate walking and jogging
Jumping Rope

Jumping Rope

So does interval training help with weight loss?  As I have said many times, any activity including playing chess can help with weight loss if it distracts you from eating or burns enough calories to cause a deficit in your energy expenditure.  I have heard time and again that the best exercise for weight loss is interval training but is there any research to prove this or is this just an old wives tale?  The short answer is yes and this pans out in research study after research study.  One study performed on female athletes showed that interval training increased their muscle mass, but it also increased fatty acid oxidation by 36% in just 2 weeks[1].  Fatty acid oxidation would burn fat.  Another study showed that subjects has an improvement in their body composition and blood glucose.  The body composition improvement required 12 weeks of interval training[2].  

Stairs - Take breaks

Stairs – Take breaks

Recommendations:

  • Start slow.  Start with shorter intervals and less of them.  This will reduce the possibility of an injury.  
  • Alway stretch.  Stretch before and after.
  • Warm up.  Always warm up and cool down before and after an interval workout respectively. 
  • Talk to your medical provider.  Always check with a medical provider prior to undertaking any new exercise program but especially this one because it is very strenuous.
Kessler, HS, SB Sisson, and KR Short. “The Potential for High-Intensity Interval Training to Reduce Cardiometabolic Disease Risk.” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 42, no. 6 (June 1, 2012): 489–509. [PubMed]
Talanian, JL, SD Galloway, GJ Heigenhauser, A Bonen, and LL Spriet. “Two Weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Increases the Capacity for Fat Oxidation during Exercise in Women.” Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985) 102, no. 4 (April 1, 2007): 1439–47. [PubMed]
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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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