Interval Training

Golf-fitness expert Ben Shear shares his innovative, well-informed knowledge on fitness and biomechanics. Here are his thoughts on a very popular fitness topic – interval training.

What is interval training?
It’s an ambiguous term for any exercise that’s performed vigorously for a period of time, followed by a rest or low-intensity cycle, and then another period of intense activity. These alternating cycles are typically 30-60 seconds in duration and the type of activity is usually running, cycling, rowing, etc.

What is the true benefit?
It’s a very accurate measure of how hard you can work out. You push yourself to the limit and rest for only the amount of time it takes to be able to do the activity again. It’s very efficient in that regard.

How about health benefits?
One theory behind interval training is that it helps keep your body on “alert status.” It prepares you for burst sports such as golf that require an intense amount of activity in a short amount of time. Another theory is that, as opposed to performing an athletic activity at a steady pace, intervals prevent your body from reducing the benefit of the exercise by quickly adapting to the challenge. Another theory is that it raises your resting metabolism and allows you to burn calories and lose weight more efficiently. ‘Theory’ is the key word here, because fitness experts are still examining the health benefits of interval training. One thing is for sure–you can get a good workout doing intervals in a shorter amount of time than if you were to, say, just run on a treadmill at a steady pace.

Any negatives to intervals?
Whenever I hear about people doing them in groups, I just scratch my head. It doesn’t make sense if everyone is doing something all out and then resting in the same prescribed amounts of time. One person could be doing these intervals with ease and the next person could be gasping for air with every rep. It’s tough to get everyone working as hard as they possibly can, and that’s the point of intervals. Another downside is that intervals require a heart-rate monitor. Not necessarily to know when to stop doing whatever you’re doing–your body will tell you that–but to know when to start doing it again; when you’ve rested just enough to do another rep. You need a heart-rate monitor to keep the rest periods from being arbitrary.

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