More and more athletes, regardless of their sport, are finally recognizing the importance of interval training! Certainly football, soccer and rugby players understand that their livelihoods depend on high-intensity bursts of speed. But other sports like boxing, tennis and even bodybuilding are seeing the importance of interval training not only for cardiovascular fitness, but also as an endurance enhancer.
So What Gives?
Underarmour.com explains that “interval training is built upon alternating short, high intensity bursts of speed with slower, recovery phases throughout a single workout.” The most successful interval training is structured around the particular sport an athlete does and also the level of conditioning the athlete has. So IT for a soccer player would be different than that of a boxer.
Nuts and Bolts
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) points out that interval training improves an athlete’s aerobic and anaerobic capacities. During the high intensity training, says the ACSM, “the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles for short bursts of activity.” Conversely, your anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen and depends on lactic acid buildup. As lactic acid builds (during sprints for example), the athlete enters oxygen debt, and it is during the interval recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to “pay back” this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid.
The Benefits of Interval Training
Interval training adheres to the principle of adaptation, which basically means your body responds to the work input you are feeding it. According to sports-fitness-advisor.com, “Interval training leads to many physiological changes including an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid (see above).” These changes result in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance.
Interval training also allows an athlete to increase training intensity without worrying about overtraining because the “interval” breaks up the overall workout routine. Adding intervals to a workout routine is also a great way to add cross training to an exercise routine.
More Speed, More Calories Burned
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise. So if the goal is to lose weight, high intensity exercise such as intervals are better than a long, slow endurance exercise. A great example is weightlifting. Pushing iron builds up muscle but interval training on off-days burns the fat and adds definition.
Where to Begin
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to benefit from interval training. The rest of us mere mortals will do just fine with a basic interval routine. For starters, check out some routines here and here. Just remember to pay attention to how you feel and set your intensity and duration accordingly.
Keep in mind that interval training is extremely demanding on the heart, lungs and muscles. So, if you have any doubt, get a clean bill of health from your chiropractor at The Joint in Friendly Center before you start your interval training.
USACE commander participates in German-American soccer game by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District is licensed under CC BY 4.0
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