Monday, September 21, 2009

Interval Training and why you should be doing it.

Its been a while since I've written here, so here's a brief update on my progress over the last 6 weeks or so. I currently stand at a solid 196 lbs body weight, still maintaining under 10 % body fat, so this means over the last 3 months of training, I've gained about 10 pounds of muscle, while still keeping my body fat low and my endurance good. Another thing to note is, I no longer am cycling my carbohydrate intake. So how did I gain muscle, while keeping fat off?

Apart from the common sense guidelines to get about 1 gm per pound of body weight and training hard, I believe the one key component which has allowed me to progress at a extremely fast rate has been the use of Interval training.

What is "interval training?" Its simple. To quote Craig Ballantyne from Turbulence Training:
"An interval is a short period of exercise performed at a given intensity for a specific length of time. Each interval is separated from the next interval by a short rest or lighter activity. There are no strict rules on how long or how intense the interval must be, however, changing the interval length or intensity changes the way your body works and responds to exercise."

Studies[1] have shown that interval training is significantly better at dropping body fat in comparison to regular forms of steady intensity cardio, so if you think jogging or walking is your way to fat loss, think again, and consider interval training.

This is what I've been doing, and I recommend to others who are trying to gain quality muscle yet avoid getting fat. You will need a treadmill for this:

1. Warm up at a slow pace for 2-5 minutes.
2. Run at a speed which is fast for you, I usually run at 8-9 mph. Do this for 30-60 seconds.
3. Slow down and walk/jog at a lower pace, for me its 3-3.5 mph. Do this for 60-90 seconds.
Steps 2 and 3 constitute one interval. Perform 5-10 such intervals.
4. Finish with a 2-5 minute "cool down" period walking at a slow pace.

Do not perform interval training more than 4 times a week if you are also weight training as this would lead to a chance of over training the Central nervous system.

[1] King, J., Panton, L., Broeder, C., Browder, K., Quindry, J., & Rhea, L. (2001). A comparison of high intensity vs. low intensity exercise on body composition in overweight women. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 33, A2421