For everyone who has ever said they don’t have enough time to get in a good workout, interval training may just be for you.
Pushing yourself for short periods of time with a working rest in between has been proven to burn more calories and increase your fitness level, including your V02 max.
Here’s why this type of running, which can also be used in other types of workouts, is beneficial to improving fitness and can even be a fun way to mix up your routine.
Just a 20-minute interval session — where you exercise at near the peak intensity you can sustain for only a short period of time — burns more calories than a workout of the same duration at a moderate level of intensity. This calorie burn also lasts after your workout is completed because your metabolism is elevated in the hours after you stop exercising.
Speed-work, often including intervals, has been proven to increase your speed and fitness. After all, to get faster, you need to practice running faster. In between your intervals, you catch a breather and go at a slower pace to save up enough energy for the next one.
Not seeing improvement in your pace? Want to shed those last few pounds? Upping the ante with intervals is a great way to break through plateaus because it forces your body into a new routine, one that’s not easily adaptable to because you’re always doing a slightly different interval session or going a little faster.
That feeling you get when you cross the finish line of a race with a brand new personal best can also be replicated when you complete a hard interval workout. And as you slowly increase the intensity of those workouts overtime, you’ll see the improvements not only in how fast your intervals are getting, but also how much quicker all your paces — from tempo runs to long runs — become.
Intervals work your muscles harder, including a particularly key one — your heart. As you push the pace, you’re increasing your cardiovascular health. Intervals also can strengthen your joints and muscles. Just remember to not go out too hard the first several times you complete intervals or you could risk injury from overdoing it. Aim for one interval session a week until your body gets used to running harder. After that, you should still limit the number of speed sessions you do per week — you simply can’t run all out during each workout.
For more from Katharine Lackey, visit Kat Runs D.C.