Interval Training For Fitness/Fat Loss

Ashley Jones

Fitness Trainer 
Crusaders – Super Rugby

“Interval Training For Fitness/Fat Loss”

Whether it be inside the gym on the various pieces of computerised exercise equipment or outside in God’s gym the principles are the same. A greater intensity of effort can be applied during intermittent exercise protocols than can be maintained during a continuous bout of exercise. Sort of like the intensity variation between your hypertrophy training and maximal strength training. A caveat before we go any further, if you are over 35 and haven’t done much cardio training for a while check with your doctor and probably undergo an exercise stress test just to be on the safe side. Remember, you are adding this new training regime as a preventative health measure, start slowly and build into the intensity like any new program.

So to the nuts and bolts of the interval program. There are many ways by which you can vary the program, so you should be able to go for many weeks without repeating the same session. Boredom is one of the biggest killers of compliance and we want to be in this for the long haul, it’s not a temporary fix. The other killer of compliance is over enthusiasm, trying to do too much in the initial stages of the new program. Hasten slowly, my friends. Psychologists also advise us that it takes about 6 weeks to break a habit or to re-inforce a new behaviour pattern.

You can vary the sessions by:
1. Changing the length of the intervals, either by time or distance;
2. Altering the number of efforts you do in a session;
3. Changing the intensity of the interval;
4. Altering the recovery times between intervals, and
5. Changing the type of equipment you are working on.

Initially you may want to start longer say 5 or 7 minutes with a half the effort recovery time to break into the program and gradually adjust the time and intensity as you become familiar with the program.

If you choose to stay in the gym for your training you could incorporate a cardio circuit with say 5 pieces of equipment, lets say treadmill, versa-climber, rower, bike, elliptical cross trainer. Three minutes on each with a 1 minute recovery between each machine, then 2 minutes with 1 minute recovery and finally 1 minute on each with a minute recovery would give you twenty-four minutes of work and good variety. Be sure to increase the intensity of effort as you decrease the time on each piece of equipment.

Some other options are included in the accompanying table, adjust the intensity for what you are currently capable of and be sure to test yourself on a regular basis to see how you are improving. The Concept II Rower 2500 metre challenge is a great way to assess how you are progressing or if you find rowing difficult try the Cooper’s 12 minute run test and measure the improvement via the greater distance covered.

If you are a runner two options, 1 inside and 1 outside, that I have used to good effect are as follows. Start the treadmill with a 5 minute warm up at 8 km/hr then increase the speed 1 km/hr each minute and run for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds. When you are no longer capable of running for the 45 seconds drop back to 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, when this becomes too tough run for 15 seconds and recover for 45 seconds. If you run out of speed increments then increase the incline 1 per cent per minute until you are fried. Twice per week with an easier option in between would be good for this training program. If you want to run outside, find a golf course which is runner friendly, and jog the par 5’s, stride the par 4’s and sprint the par 3’s. Walk recover between the green and the next tee. This one will kick you into next week so watch your recovery and try and have a full day off the day after you run.

Work TimeRecovery TimeIntensityIntensityIntensity
45 secs15 secs12 km/hr1:50 per 500m100 ft/min
30 secs30 secs15 km/hr1:40 per 500m150 ft/min
15 secs45 secs20 km/hr1:30 per 500m200 ft/min

# each workout would be about 20 – 30 minutes in duration, adjust the number of repetitions of each work time and recovery to fit into that time scheme, ensure that you allow time to warm up and cool down.

Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones specialist in the physical preparation of rugby athletes. He has worked with professional sports teams that include Sydney Kings, Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, Northern Eagles, Crusaders, New Zealand All Blacks, and Australian Wallabies. Irish by Ancestry, Australian by Birth, Japanese by Accident and a Kiwi by Choice.

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