Interval training is a method where you perform an exercise at a very high level of intensity for a short period of time, followed by doing the same exercise at a slower pace while you catch your breath. Repeat.
Intervals can be used with just about any aerobic activity - running, biking, swimming, jumping jacks, dancing, etc. You can vary the time & distance of fast vs slow based on your abilities and intensity.
- Distance - run 100 yards as fast as you can, at a full-out sprint. Then jog slowly back to the starting line, and sprint again. No resting in between sets - the jogging portion is your rest.
- Longer distances might include 1/4 mile at a pace too fast to keep for long, but not an all out sprint.
- Shorter distances are ok, too - more exploding off the line with less maintaining top speed involved.
- Time - sprint for 10 seconds; slow jog for 50 seconds; repeat. This becomes 1 minute for each interval.
- You can increase your time increments as you get stronger and fitter. Keep in mind, though, that more time sprinting equals less time recovering - 10 seconds / 50 seconds, 15 / 45, 20 / 40, etc.
- For longer distances, exchange sprinting for running fast - run fast for 150 steps, jog for 150 steps. Repeat the process for the duration of your run.
Intervals vs Steady Pace
I find that I can run a given distance, say 5 miles for example, faster when I hold a steady pace. But when I do 100 yard intervals for that same distance (5 miles equals 44 sprints of 100 yards each), I'm completely wiped out - more tired, more sweaty, more heart-pounding, and much more sore the next day.
Intervals pack a punch, and are a great way to turn up your intensity!
Legal Disclaimer (don't blame me).
Warning - I am NOT a licensed physical trainer, therapist, nutritionist, or a doctor. I am a regular guy who just happens to love exercise and fitness.
Exercise can be dangerous if done incorrectly or in excess. I can't see you, and you can't see me, to know if you're doing an exercise incorrectly, which could lead to injury.
Please Please Please seek help / advice / counsel from a local professional before starting a new program, or before doing an exercise you're unfamiliar with. This information is intended as a guide to point you in the right direction. If you aren't familiar with the exercises described herein, I highly recommend seeking professional advice before trying them.