Interval Training | What is that? All There Is To Know

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Joe Dispenza

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By the healthiergang writer , medical student.

Interval Training: What is it?

The term "interval training" indicates a period of medium or high intensity exercise immediately followed by a recovery period, in which the intensity of the exercise is low, or from a complete rest.

The term is literally translated as interval training and it follows that the interval training session is structured in work intervals in which the intensity of the exercise is variable.

Often the concept of interval training is associated with the concept of HIIT or "High Intensity Interval Training" (training at high intensity intervals).


The benefits of interval training are those of:

#1 being able to work very specifically on speed of a given movement;

# 2 being able to suddenly change and adapt to a different movement;

# 3 improve the functioning of the cardio-circulatory system.

This latter benefit is particularly appreciable if the recovery interval, placed between the two successive moments of high intensity, is replaced with a active recovery. Active recovery means keeping the body in motion while allowing the subject to recover from high intensity effort.

In concrete terms, a training of this type can be obtained by performing a normal training in which periods of high intensity exercise are interspersed with active recovery periods such as low intensity exercises that involve another muscle district that is unrelated to the previous exercise.

For example, you can do a series of squats in which the amount of effort is high and, rather than waiting for 60 seconds to pass without doing anything, you can hold on to the pull-up bar and hang.

In this active recovery, the muscles involved in the main movement, the squat, are not further taxed, but an active rest is also carried out which allows you to keep the body active and at the same time to recover.

At the end of the hypothetical 5 sets of squats at high intensity you will have also spent about 4 minutes hanging from the bar.

The result is that in addition to having stimulated the muscles of the lower limbs, it was also possible to train the forearms and both decompressed the spine from the heavy load to which it was subjected by the squat.

Examples of Training

The examples of interval training are endless and are suitable not only for weight training but also for other types of sports. For example, sprinting series can be performed interspersed with a series of abdominals.

This principle is also suitable for high intensity exercises involving the upper body, for example, intersperse a series of pull-ups with a series of calf workouts. In concrete terms, this training method offers the benefit of increasing the subject's working capacity, add some extra work on certain weak points and raise your metabolism.

The latter benefit is obtained because high-intensity exercise has proved superior to classic medium-intensity exercise in promote lipid oxidation. Furthermore, the active recovery period imposes greater expenditure on energy systems without having a real rest.


 THEHIIT can be understood as a variant of the previous training method.

In the case of interval training, the recovery period does not necessarily have to be active but in this case it does. Moreover, usually, in HIIT the intensity of the exercise is very high and this allows to make the most of the anaerobic metabolism.

When the training intensity is high enough there is a production of lactate by the muscle fibers. This is a waste compound that will then be recovered by the body and converted into other useful substances.

The energy pathway that produces lactate is able to release 2 molecules of ATP while to be recovered and converted this compound uses 6 to 7. It is evident that after this type of exercise the body is in a condition of energy debt and will have to use aerobic metabolism to convert lactate. It is for this reason that we speak of post-exercise “oxygen debt”.

If the intensity of a HIIT session is high, the duration will consequently be short because a high level of exercise cannot be maintained for long.

An example of HIIT would be doing Burpees for 1 minute and then doing a 45 second side plank immediately after. Repeat this procedure 10 times.

This is a HIIT that I personally incorporate into my routine once a week. The session lasts less than 20 minutes but requires a lot of effort.

The benefits of HIIT are many: it trains the cardio-circulatory system very well, induces a strong lipid oxidation, allows to induce a hypertrophic response and finally has been shown to increase post-exercise metabolism by 400%.

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