Friday, March 19, 2010

Novice or Experienced: How interval and repetition training can work for you!

Interval and repetition training have many benefits and can be a part of an exercise regimen that takes you to the next level. Recent studies show that people who do this type of training lose weight, decrease their risk for disease, and help to decrease abdominal fat more so than when people only take part in endurance activities. So, even if you like how much you weigh, but can’t seem to get that belly in shape, keep reading. However, don’t expect perfection because genetics plays a role in body shape! The other exciting benefits you can achieve by adding these types of workouts into your routine are increased VO2max, running speed, and anaerobic tolerance. In a nutshell, you become a better athlete! (If anyone is interested in learning about VO2 max and anaerobic tolerance, leave a comment because I would be glad to do a posting on this.)

You’re probably wondering what interval and repetition training are! Interval training is a type of workout that includes short bouts of high intensity activity followed by recovery periods. The amount of time you spend in your working and recovery phases should be equal and that exact time is really up to you. You may want your working intervals to last for 2 minutes, or maybe five. During the working phase, you should be working as hard as you can, but it may take several workouts to get use to this type of training. Keep in mind while you’re huffing and puffing through your working phase that your recovery is coming soon!

Repetition training is very similar to interval training; however, it typically involves even shorter working phases (30 to 90 seconds) that are followed by longer recovery periods. The work phase to recovery phase ratio should be 1 to 5. For instance, if your working phase lasts for 30 seconds, your recovery phase should last about 2.5 minutes. During those short working phases, you should be working so hard that you couldn’t keep it up any longer once your time is up. If you can run 7 mph for one minute, then you should aim to run faster when you’re only aiming for 30 seconds.

Now that you know the basics of repetition and interval training, keep in mind that your workouts don’t have to be “super structured”. This post was meant to give you the general idea of how these workouts work, but don’t be afraid to mix it up! Maybe you want to do some long and short working intervals within the same workout. Maybe you start out aiming for 30 seconds of work, but find you can keep up your speed for 45 seconds….great! The idea is to push hard for a short time and recover so that you can do it all over again!

Interval and repetition training should really only be done about once per week as they are considered a difficult workout. You should start this workout with a 5 to 10 minute, easy warm up, aim to complete at least 5 to 6 working phase intervals, and then cool down for at least 5 minutes. You can do this with virtually any type of cardio-respiratory exercise, such as running, stair climbing, biking, or swimming.

Disclaimer: Before you begin any kind of exercise program, you should consult with your doctor. However, if you are elderly or have any physical limitations, you should also discuss intense exercise with your physician to make sure that it is okay for you to do.


  1. I will be "working" on this in anticipation of the mandatory :) women's heart and sole 5 miler...
    Once again...great information. You should do that posting on VO2 max and anaerobic tolerance.

  2. Wonderful article. I love interval training for it's great after workout calorie burning effect.

  3. Thanks for the info. I have always had a harder time pushing myself to do the interval workouts. Typically, when I have started to do them I only get in 3-4 intervals. But knowing to limit them to once per week, I will try to push myself in that workout a little more.

  4. -Erin'sMom: Excellent, I hope you enjoy this type of workout to change up your regular routine!
    -Francesca: Thank you! I agree, I love this invigorating workout and it certainly does burn a lot of calories!
    -Matt: I'm glad that knowing you don't have to do this workout all the time will help you to push harder when you do it. It is strenuous and really puts a lot of demands on your body, so once per week is really enough!