Posted by: thehungryrunner | April 9, 2008

Fresh from my annual fitness conference: The value of ANY form of interval training

As a fitness professional, the onus is on me to keep current with the latest exercise science and methods, and part of the way I accomplish this is through attending my annual fitness conferences.  Always a gratifying experience; I get real excited about wheeling my bag from seminar to seminar, comingling with fellow professionals and finding out that I’m not the only one who gets excited at analyzing the role of the mitochondria in energy production!

Suffice it to say, it would take one heck of a long blog entry to sum up all that was learned at this year’s IDEA Fitness Fusion conference in Chicago, which just took place the weekend of April 4-6.  But one key takeaway that is most definitely running related is this:  Interval training is gold.  And while you can be real scientific and methodical in your approach to applying it to your own fitness training, you need not be so exact.  Any form of training in which you vary your intensities will help cause all sorts of positive adaptations, from improved cardiovascular fitness to stronger legs to elevated caloric output.  And one innovation that probably not many of us have explored all too greatly yet:  Interval training (specifically, bouncing back and forth between high-intensity exercise and “active rest” periods) through multiple modes of cardio.  For example, say you start out on the treadmill.  You do a warm-up, get yourself into a nice run/jog pace, then crank it up as intensively as you want to go — pretty darn close to the 16 or 17 on the Borg RPE scale.  Then, you back off and go back to either a light jog or fast-paced walk to recover.  When you’re ready for the next bout of high-intensity exercise, however, you SWITCH to another mode of cardio, such as the eliptical trainer or the stationary bike.  Go through the same cycle, though you could probably eliminate most of the warm-up.  A great way to add variety to the challenging workout, which keeps it interesting, gives the muscles the benefit of cross-training, and reduces the wear-and-tear effect of just the same repetitive movements!

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