Interval training has become incredibly popular over the past couple years. It's short, intense and effective - what more could you really want from a workout? It is important to note, however, that interval training isn't just random - it should be done in a systematic manner whether you are using it to prepare for an upcoming season, or to increase fat burning capabilities.
In other words, there should be method to your madness! Interval training is when an athlete switches between two different intensities (high and low). There are many different ways you can structure these intervals, but the easiest way to depict is like this ...
It is important to see that there is a high intensity portion and a lower intensity (recovery) portion. The time frame of each interval is where things get exciting, and it determines how hard you are able to push for your high intensity interval.
Here are a couple of examples of interval training segments ...
Long Intervals (2:1)
2 minutes on, 1 minute recovery x 8
Working @ 70-75%
Moderate Intervals (1:1)
1 minute on, 1 minute off x 10
Working @ 80%
Short Intervals (1:2)
30 seconds on, 1 minute off x 8
Working @ 90%
20 seconds on, 10 seconds off x 6-8
40 seconds on, 20 seconds off x 6-8
Working @ 80-90%
High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT has recently gotten a lot of love, and for good reason! It creates short and effective training sessions that do NOT have to be done on a treadmill. You can use a series of exercises to perform inside of sprinting or cycling.
Here is an example of a HIIT training session ...
A1. Prisoners Squats
A3. Lateral Bounds
Perform as many repetitions as possible in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Complete 3-4 sets of each exercise!
Note: QUALITY OVER QUANTITY - make sure each rep is a good one!
If you are training for health and to bring out your inner athlete, you can play around with what type of intervals you choose. I suggest doing HIIT 2-3x/ week to fully reap the cardiovascular and fat burning benefits!
If you are an athlete training for a sport, you must be strategic when interval training. Look at your sport and determine how long and how hard you're working for a given time. For example, if you are a hockey player, you're probably working close to 90% for 60-90s (the length of a shift) and then you may have 3-4 minutes recovery - right there is a great place to start for interval training.
Remember to work hard and get out of your comfort zone for the high intervals and to slow it down and recovery for the low ones - enjoy!