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Interval Training 101

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If you’ve ever seen the Insanity commercial, then you can get an idea of just how intense this workout is.  No weights, no machines, nothing but you and Shawn T ready to dig deep.  But the question always comes up, “How can you get in get in great shape, lose weight without any equipment?”  It’s simple, its called Interval training, you take short rests between sets of high intensity workout moves.

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The importance of Interval Training…

The comparisons between high intensity short duration exercise (HIT) and low to moderate intensity long duration exercise (LLD) continue to spark conversation and controversy. While there is no doubt that research suggests long, slow endurance type training does have some benefits, can high intensity training be more effective for the average person?

1. Muscle changes: As the intensity of a particular activity increases, more muscle fibers are needed to perform the activity. The highly intense nature of HIT elicits rapid changes in muscle chemistry to be able to tolerate such an increase in recruitment.
2. Increase fat utilization: HIT contractions stimulate nerve pathways that increase the amount of energy producing structures (mitochondria) in muscle fibers. These are the structures responsible for burning fat.
3. Time efficient: Some studies have used training protocols as short as 4 minutes of total workout time and produced similar, if not better, results than LLD training. The average HIT workout usually lasts about 20 minutes. That is 40 minutes less than the recommended time to complete an LLD workout. I do not about you but I would rather be finished in 1/3 of the time and get even better results.
4. After burners: HIT has been shown to increase metabolism for hours after the workout ended. LLD effects usually stop after you are done with your workout. Though it is difficult to get an exact number, some research suggests that even more calories are burned in the hours after a workout than were burned during the workout.
5. Range of populations: HIT can be performed by a range of populations from the elite athlete to someone recovering from coronary artery disease. Research is now showing effective results for cardiac rehabilitation by using HIT. Granted the intensity is not going to be the same for the cardiac patient and the elite athlete, but the principle remains. Even the out of shape, obese person is more likely to tolerate 30 seconds of high intensity than 60 minutes of running on a treadmill.
6. Long-term adherence: Because HIT workouts can be done quickly and show results within as little as 2 weeks, those that use HIT are more likely to continue a training program than those who start an LLD training program. Not to mention, there are more exercise possibilities to reduce boredom with HIT program.

HIT has been shown consistently to effectively reduce fat, get in shape, and make necessary changes within the muscles to allow for greater well being. HIT can be used by nearly everyone in one form or another and provides enough variety to prevent boredom and increase the likelihood of long term adherence.

Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports.

Plyometric training involves and uses practicing plyometric movements to toughen tissues and train nerve cells to stimulate a specific pattern of muscle contraction so the muscle generates as strong a contraction as possible in the shortest amount of time. A plyometric contraction involves first a rapid muscle lengthening movement (eccentric phase), followed by a short resting phase (amortization phase), then an explosive muscle shortening movement (concentric phase), which enables muscles to work together in doing the particular motion. Plyometric training engages the myotatic reflex, which is the automatic contraction of muscles when their stretch sensory receptors are stimulated.

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