What Is Interval Training?
On a basic level interval training is the raising and lowering of the heart rate during a given workout. So, why do we want to raise and lower the heart rate? For years, the answer has been because it helps you lose weight faster.
Well, that answer is correct, but how do you lose weight faster?
The body is just like any machine. Meaning it has an optimal operating range. If your heart rate is too high it has a negative effect on the desired results. Now if your heart rate is too low it also has a negative effect on the desired results. So what is the optimal heart rate range? For each person it is different.
For example, there can be three adult males all 5’ 10” tall and weighing 195 lbs. All three work out on a regular basis. All three have a different program that they follow. All three have a different optimal heart rate range. The first could be between 135 to 150 beats per minute. The second could be between 160 to 175 beats per minute. The third could be between 120 and 135 beats per minute. Each one of these three has trained their bodies to be efficient in their heart rate range. The heart rate range is where the body will burn the most body fat and build the most muscle fiber.
Can You Change Your Heart Rate Range?
The answer is YES YOU CAN!
That is what interval training is all about. Earlier I spoke about the raising and lowering of your heart rate. Why do we want to do this? The reason is you have an anaerobic threshold and an aerobic base. The anaerobic threshold is the top level of the optimal heart rate range. When this threshold has been crossed the body no longer burns body fat efficiently and instead uses muscle for a source of fuel. The reason your body use muscle as fuel is because your glycogen stores have been used. The aerobic base is the lowest end of the optimal heart rate range. When the heart rate has not reached the aerobic base it is not burning body fat and not building muscle fiber efficiently. The zones between the aerobic base and anaerobic threshold are where you will optimize your body fat burn, but this is not optimal training to increase performance. Interval training is optimal for burning body fat and increasing performance.
Interval training over time will both raise the anaerobic threshold and the aerobic base. Body fat loss will still occur during this type of training because your body will be in the optimal heart rate range 30% of the training time. The reason for 30% of the time is because if you have never participated in an exercise metabolic test then you will never know your personal optimal heart rate range.
Knowing Your Optimal Heart Rate Range
This is why it is important to have a metabolic test performed. Metabolic testing is the measurement of your carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange in the body while monitoring the heart rate to see what is your personal optimal heart rate range. With most exercise metabolic tests you should receive a cardiovascular workout plan to increase both your anaerobic threshold and aerobic base. These workouts should consist of steady state cardio and intervals. The steady state workouts will develop your aerobic base (starting heart rate) while the interval workouts will improve your anaerobic threshold (where you stop burning fat and start burning sugar for fuel).
If you participate in an exercise metabolic test you can reduce how long it takes you to reach your personal goals by 50%. The reason is because you will know your personal optimal heart rate range. Then by using your personal designed cardio workouts you can take your performance to the next level.