The benefits of high intensity interval training

A May 3, 2007 New York Times article, A Healthy Mix of Rest and Motion, suggests that for at least one workout a week it pays to alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with easy-does-it recovery. This type of high intensity interval training comes in many forms. Examples are running (or sprinting) the straight-aways and walking the curves for several laps or cycling hard (or very hard) for a minute and then coasting for a minute then repeating the sequence. It can also be done with strength training – a series of demanding strength training exercises with a little respite between the exercises. 

A quote from the article:

“A 2005 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that after just two weeks of interval training, six of the eight college-age men and women doubled their endurance, or the amount of time they could ride a bicycle at moderate intensity before exhaustion'.

And this: "New evidence suggests that a workout with steep peaks and valleys can dramatically improve cardiovascular fitness and raise the body’s potential to burn fat".

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, had the exercisers sprint for 30 seconds, then either stop or pedal gently for four minutes. Eight volunteers in a control group, who did not do any interval training, showed no improvement in endurance.

Such a dramatic improvement in endurance after 15 minutes of intense cycling spread over two weeks was all the more surprising because the volunteers were already reasonably fit. They jogged, biked or did aerobic exercise two to three times a week.

The study focused on the improved performance resulting from interval training, but there are other benefits. Interval training offers protection against Type 2 diabetes, can help with weight loss and can lower the riskof heart disease.

It is postulated in the article that many people who are not active enough to keep muscles healthy and who are at the sedentary extreme might develop “metabolic stalling” — carbohydrates in the form of blood glucose and fat particles in the form of triglycerides sit in the blood. This could be a contributing factor to metabolic syndrome, the combination of obesity, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and elevated triglycerides that increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The article concludes by saying: “By recruiting new muscle fibers and increasing the body’s ability to use fuel, interval training could potentially lower the risk of metabolic syndrome”.

The type of personal training we do at Austin Personal Training in Austin and at New Orleans Fitness Training is high intensity interval training. Some of the benefits of type of personal training are:

The personal training sessions burns calories at a very high rate
It has been shown effective in lowering blood pressure,
You will burn calories long after the workout is over at a rate higher that other forms of exercise.