Interval Training - The Best Weight Loss Exercise

by : David Mccormick

Weight Loss Exercise Principles

If you have read the article called Exercise: Essential, thenyou can skip down to the next section, called How to do IntervalTraining. Read on if you need a reminder of the basic principlesof exercise for weight loss.

Aerobic exercise is fat burning exercise. As you do someactivity using large muscles (legs, especially) that raises yourheart rate but still allows you to breathe normally, your bodywill burn fat with the oxygen you're breathing. However, yourbody will only burn blood-sugar at first, because it's easilyavailable. So, to get to the fat-burning stage, you have toexercise for at least 20 minutes, preferably 30 minutes or more.Walking and bicycling at a gentle pace are aerobic activities.

Anaerobic exercises are high-intensity exercises that get yourmuscles working hard, and you will have trouble breathing. Theword "anaerobic" means "without air", meaning that you will bebreathing fast, but still not getting enough oxygen to properlyfuel your muscles. This leads to muscle strengthening, but italso means that you're burning blood-sugar only, not fat, andyou end up with lactic acid that will make your muscles feellike they're burning. Weight training and sprinting areanaerobic activities.

You can keep doing aerobic exercise longer than anaerobicexercise, and you'll burn about equal amounts of caloriesoverall doing either. Aerobic exercise burns those calories fromfat during the exercise. Anaerobic exercise only burnsblood-sugar, but burns a lot of fat later (the rest of the day)to replace the energy. Is it possible to combine the two, sothat you can burn fat while exercising, and keep burning therest of the day? Yes, with Interval Training.

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How to do Interval Training

The "intervals" in Interval Training are alternating periods ofhigh-intensity exercise with low-intensity rest periods. Thisallows a person to keep exercising for at least 30 minutes tokick in the effects of aerobic activity, but it is also intenseenough to strengthen the heart and provide the long-term fatburning of high-intensity exercise. The idea is simple, butingenious, and amazingly effective.

You can do interval training using a time-measure or adistance-measure. If you prefer to run indoors in a gym's track,then there is probably a clock to watch while running, so timewould be more convenient to keep track. If you prefer to trainoutdoors, it may be inconvenient to look at your watch every fewseconds, so going by distance will probably be easier. If youuse time, you should run as fast as you can for one full minute,then walk for two minutes. After that, run again for one moreminute and rest by walking for two minutes. Keep repeating thisthree-minute cycle until 30 minutes have elapsed overall. If youprefer to chart distance, you will want to run about ahalf-mile, then walk for one-quarter mile, and keep alternatingthat.

Benefits of Interval Training

World-class athletes already know that Interval Training is thebest way to improve almost every aspect of running performance.The fist effect is that high-intensity leg exercise, likerunning, will make your legs stronger. That means more musclemass, and each gram of new muscle will burn that much more fatevery minute of every day. The second effect of high-intensitytraining is what people call "cardio". That's short forcardio-vascular training, meaning that your heart as a musclewill grow stronger. This will prevent many forms of heartdisease, as well as improving circulation, which has benefitsfor many aspects of life.

The most important benefit of Interval Training is that it isthe single best way to improve your VO2-Max. That is the volume(V) of oxygen (O2) that you take with your deepest breath (max).VO2-max is the best measure of fitness and endurance. Increasingyour VO2-max with interval training will give you greaterendurance for everything you do, and the higher your VO2-max,the less you will feel that heat or pressure on your lungs whenyou exercise. Believe me, after interval training for a week,you will know without a fancy test that your VO2-max isimproving, and soon you'll feel the improvement with everytraining session. It's a great feeling.

Improving Intervals

Using the time method is better than distance to keep yourselfhonest, because as you get faster, your half-mile will turn outto take less and less time. So, to keep improving yourperformance, and keep losing weight, you should either get astopwatch, or else keep making your running intervals fartherand farther (to make sure they still last a whole minute).

As your VO2-max increases, you may be tempted to make yourworkouts last longer overall, or to make the high-intensityperiods last longer. You should do neither of these things. Yourgoal should be to keep intervals of 1-minute of runningseparated by 2-minutes of walking, and keep increasing theintensity of each running interval. If you make every interval asprint for one full minute, and keep that up for 40 minutes, youare already a superhero. Longer workouts risk breakdown oftissues and a high burden on your kidneys and other organs. Andif you make each interval longer, you may not be pushing yourspeed the most you can, which is where the benefits are.

At the other end of the scale, if you're just starting intervaltraining, go easy. Too many men start off too fast and burnthemselves out within 10 minutes. That will not benefit you.Warm up with a fast walk or a gentle jog for 10 minutes or so.Then, try your first interval. It should be for one full minute,but just try for a pace a little faster than a jog. Then walkfor two minutes. For your next interval, just try to maintainthat fast jog pace for another full minute. Then walk again fortwo minutes. Don't sit down or stop if you can avoid it, keepwalking to recover. On your third interval, try just a littlefaster. If you can't make it for the full minute, you have justfound out where your zone is. The key isn't to try to sprintright away and only be able to go for 20 seconds. You have to dothe full minute at a constant pace, as fast as you can sustainfor one whole minute. I guarantee that it will be pretty slowyour first time. But try it again the next day, and you will bebetter. By the end of two weeks, you'll be amazed how much morefit you've become. I promise.

If you don't think you're up for Interval Training yet, read myarticle on Exercise: Essential.

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