“How to lose fat?” is a huge question for many women. There are countless different exercise/weight loss programs out there to help women meet their fat/weight loss goals. Yet, for many women, finding the best way to lose fat proves to be difficult.
The two broadest categories of exercise are cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise training and weight (i.e. strength) training. However, there are countless different types of exercise regimens which fall under these broad categories and even different methods of performing some of the most basic exercises.
Today, we’ll talk about the benefits of interval training.
What is Interval Training?
While the specific definition of interval training might differ based on who you ask, the basic idea is relatively simple. In essence, interval training is any exercise regimen where you alternate periods of heavy activity with light activity.
Examples of interval training would include things such as alternating swimming at full speed with leisurely laps in the pool or switching between running and jogging/walking during your morning walk at regular intervals (hence the name interval training).
How Does Interval Training Help Me?
Intense activity helps people to burn calories more quickly, which in turn leads to increased weight loss. Interval training helps exercisers to achieve that higher calorie burn through short periods of intense activity interspersed with warm-up and cool-down periods of activity in between to help maximize the efficiency of the workout.
Properly done, interval training can help to reduce the risk of cramps and muscular injury from suddenly starting or stopping intense activity by easing you into or out of bouts of heavy exercise.
Studies featured in the Journal of Applied Physiology have shown that high-intensity aerobic interval training, “over a longer period of time (4-6 wk) has been reported to increase high-intensity exercise performance, muscle buffering capacity, whole body exercise fat oxidation rates, and aerobic capacity” (Talanian et. al.). To put this in other words, aerobic interval training has been proven to improve your capacity for exercise, muscle health, and your body’s ability to burn fat.
Over time, interval training can help you build endurance to let you work out for longer, and get more positive results from your exercise.
Another noted benefit of interval training is that it can help combat the monotony of an exercise routine by adding variety to your workout. This helps prevent the sense of boredom and increase your engagement with your exercise.
Interval training can, for many people, prove to be the best weight loss exercise regimen possible.
Are There Risks to Interval Training?
With any exercise regimen, there is a risk of bodily injury, especially when said exercise involves strenuous activity. If you rush into a heavy exercise routine before you’re ready, you can end up damaging one or more major muscle groups.
If you are just starting an exercise routine after a prolonged period of no exercise whatsoever, or have a serious health condition such as cardiovascular disease, consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.
To reduce your risk for injury and other health complications when performing interval exercise, consult with a physical trainer and/or your doctor. A trained physical health expert can help you determine your threshold for physical activity and create an exercise regimen based on your health needs.
Also, make sure to wear the appropriate equipment for your chosen exercise routine. For example, wear running shoes that provide full support for your feet when jogging.
To further reduce risk of injury, ease your way into practicing bouts of heavier activity. On your first interval exercise routine, try doing just one or two bouts of heavy activity of roughly 30 seconds to a minute long at most. If that level of activity feels too hard, ease back on the intensity and length of the high-intensity intervals until you have had a chance to build up your endurance. The bottom line is "listen to your body" -- you want to challenge yourself but not to the point of injury or heat stroke, or over stressing your body.
Exercise is safer when done with a trainer. Unless you are a seasoned exerciser/athlete, it is probably best to avoid performing interval training alone. There are always benefits to training with a partner. The biggest benefits are that partners push each other so there is no quitting and they make each other more accountable (to actually show up for the exercise!). As with all diet/exercise lifestyles, consistency is key.
If you need help with your own interval training regimen, Step Ahead Wellness is here for you. We have a staff of dedicated professionals who are trained to help you meet your health and fitness goals.
Talanian, Jason L. et. al., “Two Weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training Increases the Capacity for Fat Oxidation during Exercise in Women.” Journal of Applied Physiology. Vol. 102 no. 1439-1447. April 1, 2007. Web. Accessed 8/13/14. http://jap.physiology.org/content/102/4/1439