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How Interval Training Works

In this article we will be discussing how interval training works and how this high intensity workout routine is related to lactic acid and oxygen debt.  Now, this subject can get a little technical, but I will attempt to keep our discussion from becoming all clicks and whistles.

how to do interval training

Interval training can be adopted for any sport

What is high intensity Interval Training?

When we talk about this type of circuit training routine, we must think about doing very high intensity work and then moderately intense exercises in short training intervals.  For instance, you may sprint for about twenty seconds and then jog for ten over and over for 15-20 minutes.  But don’t think that you have to limit the exercises to running alone.  There are many more interval training exercises that work great; think 7th grade gym class.

Why do this type of circuit training?

First of all its fast.  You can only keep a high level of intensity up for a short period of time, yet you get a great jump-start on burning calories.  So, if you only have a few minutes to work out, then I highly recommend an exercise plan like this.  Think about it.  You do about 15 minutes of HIIT before you jump in the shower to go to work and you will be setting your body up to burn more calories all morning long.  It is a great way in promoting your body to gain muscle, not fat.

Oxygen debt

You muscles need oxygen to run just like an engine!

Here, let me explain why:
Think about your muscle as a high performance engine.  Engines need gas and oxygen to drive the piston head over and over, which creates power to do the work- to get you moving.  When you do high intensity interval training workouts, you use up all of your bodies stored oxygen and you just cant take in enough oxygen to fuel that muscle motor.  And your heart rate, like the piston is pounding at an accelerated rate.  So to get fuel to the muscle, your body starts an anaerobic process.  Think of this as a loan that you have to pay back.  The more you borrow, the more you have to pay back.  But instead of being a credit debt, we call this oxygen debt.

In doing intervals at high intensity, you burn off the oxygen, your heart rate goes up to try to oxygenate the blood, and you start to breath more rapidly to try to obtain more fuel.

Now, if you add weights like kettle bells or even body weight training like pushups, you are accomplishing resistance work while in the anaerobic state.  This helps burn more calories which in turn will help to lose weight.

Now, that we have talked about oxygen debt, what about lactic acid?

Without going into mad scientist mode, a simplified description of lactic acid as it pertains to exercise is that it assists your body in setting up the body to more readily burn fatty acids.
Lactic Acid & Interval Training
The same process that sets the condition for oxygen debt also generates lactic acid- how fortunate!  So when you do some work that takes incredible effort, lactic acid gathers in your muscle until your body systems flush it out.  The idea behind intervals is to keep building up this lactic acid.  The more you build, the more fat calories are burned to flush it out.

Burn more calories longer for greater weight loss.

What is more, is that interval training sets up the body to burn more calories longer.  Part of it is the build up of the lactic acid, part of it is because it promotes the production of human growth hormone.  When HGH is present, your body wants to grow muscle and it burn calories more efficiently. So you might consider doing another 20-30 minutes of moderate cardio training after HIIT to get the biggest bang for your buck.

I actually do about 10 minutes of high intensity interval training just before I do my weight lifting routine.  And when I want to do cardio, I do a round of HIIT just before my 30 min cardio workout.  This is not really intended for strength training, but it has been shown to improve cardio fitness.  In fact if you are a runner and having trouble bettering your distance or pace time, then do a few weeks of intervals and I think you will see that your long distance time has improved.

If you want to learn more about how to do interval training, Craig Ballantyne has some great resources.  You can check it out at his Turbulence Training Website.

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