Interval Training

A Beginner’s Guide to Interval Running for All Levels


Interval running, fortunately, provides a solution for busy people who want to increase their fitness but don’t have time for lengthier runs.

Interval jogging is also appealing to people who want a more intense workout than a lengthy, sluggish jog.

This article deconstructs interval running as an aerobic training approach, preparing you to design your own interval training program to fulfill your fitness and lifestyle goals.

Interval running is a great way to increase your fitness level, burn more calories and improve your endurance. This article will provide you with information on how to do interval training for beginners of all levels. If you are struggling with the basics or want some helpful tips, this guide can help!

What is interval running, and how does it work?

Interval running is a way of arranging your running sessions so that you may get more intensity and improve your aerobic fitness while spending less time on each exercise.

What is interval running

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggest that healthy persons aged 18–65 engage in moderate aerobic activity for 30 minutes five days a week, regardless of their age or special health goals.

Alternatively, you can achieve this need by engaging in intense aerobic activity for at least 20 minutes three times each week.

Interval running is a great strategy to enhance your aerobic fitness while reducing the amount of time you spend working out. It also meets the ACSM’s recommendation of 20 minutes of strong aerobic activity three times each week.

Interval running is a type of training where you alternate between periods of intense exercise with less-intense recovery. It can be used in different types of sports, but most people know it best for its use among runners and athletes looking to improve their endurance. When done properly, interval running has been shown to increase the number of calories burned during each workout session while also improving your cardiovascular health.  

How do you go about running intervals?

Warm-up with a few minutes of gentle jogging before beginning interval running. Following that, the majority of the workout consists of short bursts of high-intensity running, followed by lower-intensity jogging, strolling, or even rest.

The high-intensity speed for interval running exercise is higher than what you can physically maintain for 30 minutes, and the lower intensity pace allows you to recover quickly before moving on to the next high-intensity pace.

At the high-intensity speed, each interval phase lasts 10–60 seconds, while at the lower intensity rate, it lasts 10–60 seconds. These are referred to as “duty cycles” by coaches.

The length of each duty cycle, as well as the ratio of high to low-intensity time in each cycle, is determined by your own fitness objectives, conditioning level, and available workout time.

The work-rest ratio is a significant variable in constructing interval running programs since it represents the ratio of high intensity to low intensity.

In comparison to a regular running program, the structure of interval running programs allows for significantly more time spent at higher intensities.

When compared to lengthier, slower jogs, the higher intensity resulted in bigger gains in maximal aerobic capacity and engages more muscle fibers overall.

The next time you head out for a run, try intervals. They’re a great way to mix up your routine, improve your speed and endurance, and burn more calories. And if you’re not sure where to start, we have plenty of resources that can help. So lace up your shoes and get ready to run!

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How to plan your interval running for the best results

The most critical variables in constructing an ideal interval running program are determining the amount of time spent in each interval, the number of intervals, and the weekly frequency.

The best program for you will be determined by your personal training goals and current fitness level.

If you’re looking to take your running game up a notch, interval training might be the answer. By planning your intervals correctly, you can maximize results and improve your performance. We hope this guide has helped give you an idea of how to structure your own interval runs. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start pounding the pavement!

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise

Depending on your unique goals, interval running allows you to target different energy systems in your body.

The aerobic and anaerobic systems are the primary energy sources used in interval running. Both systems provide energy, however, the percentage contribution of each system varies depending on the interval utilized.

Increased endurance and cardiovascular system efficiency are among the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Greater maximum speed, higher muscular development, and enhanced maximal power are all examples of anaerobic improvements.

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For the length of the program, you should focus each 4-week training plan on either aerobic or anaerobic improvements.

To develop a firm foundation and prepare your muscles and joints for the intensity of anaerobic training, start with at least one time focusing on aerobic improvements.

So, what is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise? Aerobic exercise is any type of physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes the body to use more oxygen than it does at rest. Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, is a type of physical activity that does not require oxygen. It relies on glucose and glycogen stored in muscles for energy. This type of exercise produces lactic acid, which can cause muscle fatigue. What kind of exercises are you doing now to improve your health? Are they aerobic or anaerobic exercises? If you’re not sure, ask your doctor or personal trainer for help in making the switch to better health.

The format of a general workout and how to measure progress

Before beginning an interval training session, warm up by running for 5–10 minutes.

General workout format

To minimize overuse problems, beginners should begin with a few duty cycles each workout twice a week and gradually increase the number of cycles as their fitness increases.

Avoid maximum effort intervals unless you’ve established a baseline level of fitness with aerobic intervals.

The simplest approach to measure progress is to keep note of the distance you travel during each high-intensity interval without having to wear a heart rate monitor or complete calculations.

Even a preliminary estimate based on jogging around a track might reveal significant progress.

Wear a heart rate monitor or manually take your pulse and compare it to the distance walked and your perceived exertion for a more exact means of measuring progress.

It might be tough to accomplish this without a coach or a workout partner during rigorous training.

For non-athletes seeking aerobic advantages, tracking your resting heart rate as soon as you wake up in the morning is a simpler approach to monitor cardiovascular progress.

Your aerobic system is getting more efficient as your resting heart rate decreases.

Perform two 20-minute gentle jogging workouts the week after each phase of the program is completed to avoid overtraining.

The general workout format is a way of measuring progress. This type of training allows you to see incremental changes in your fitness level, which can help you stay motivated and on track. If this sounds like the kind of plan for you, we’ve provided some tips below that will get you started!

Running program for beginners with intervals

This program for beginners will get you started with aerobic interval training. Increase your intensity to around 75% of your maximum effort for 30 seconds after your 5-minute gentle jogging warmup.

Jog slowly for another 30 seconds after the strong interval and repeat three times. Perform this exercise twice a week for four weeks.

Each week, add a duty cycle. You should be doing 6 total intervals every session, twice a week, in week 4. By week 4, the overall workout time should be around 11 minutes, including your warmup.

Interval running routine for beginners:

  1. Warm-up for 5 minutes with easy jogging.
  2. Run for 30 seconds at 75% intensity, then for 30 seconds at 25% intensity.
  3. On week one, repeat for three cycles.
  4. Perform the workout twice a week for four weeks, adding a new cycle each week.

Running program with intermediate intervals

You should be ready to add a training session once you’ve completed the 4-week starter program. The intermediate program consists of three weekly sessions with additional cycles added each week.

To begin, complete three cycles, then take a full 1-minute pause before repeating the cluster two more times.

Each workout should be done three times each week for four weeks. Add a cycle to each cluster once a week.

By week four, you’ll have completed three clusters of six intervals. This results in a total of 18 intervals and a total exercise time of about 25 minutes.

Running program for intermediate intervals:

  1. Warm-up for 5 minutes with easy jogging.
  2. Run at 75 percent intensity for 30 seconds, then at 25% intensity for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat for three cycles, then take a one-minute break – this is one cluster.
  4. In week 1, add two more clusters to each session. There will be a total of 9 cycles during the course of the week, divided into three clusters.
  5. Perform the workout three times a week, with an interval cycle added to each cluster.

If you’re looking for a running program that will push you to your limits, this intermediate interval running program is perfect for you. Designed to help runners improve their speed and endurance, this program is sure to challenge you every step of the way. 

Running program with advanced intervals

You’ll have completed 8 weeks of interval running training by the time you finish the beginning and intermediate training programs.

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You have the option of continuing to challenge your aerobic capacity with the advanced aerobic training program, maintaining your fitness with the intermediate program, or starting the anaerobic training program at this stage.

For the advanced program, start with three clusters of four cycles separated by a 30-second pause.

You will do one additional cluster per workout each week. By week four, you’ll be doing six clusters of four cycles for a total exercise time of around 30 minutes, including the warmup.

By the conclusion of week 4, the overall workout load will be high.

Workout for advanced interval running:

  1. Warm-up for 5 minutes with easy jogging.
  2. Run at 75 percent intensity for 30 seconds, then at 25% intensity for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat for 4 cycles, then take a 1-minute break.
  4. In the first week, complete three entire clusters. The first week’s exercises will consist of 12 cycles divided into three clusters.
  5. Perform the program three times each week, with a cluster added to each workout.

If you want to take your running program to the next level, try incorporating interval training into your routine. This advanced interval running program will help you burn more fat and improve your speed and endurance. 

Creating a strategy for interval training that is unique to you

Interval running may be utilized for both aerobic and anaerobic training, as previously stated.

The 1-to-1 work-rest interval employed in the programs above will largely target the aerobic system. You may change the ratio to focus on anaerobic training or a stronger aerobic focus in your program.

Higher intensities are often only sustained for a shorter length of time and need greater recuperation.

A work-rest ratio of 1-to-5 is preferable than 1-to-1 for anaerobic improvements. An all-out sprint for 10 seconds followed by a 50-second recovery would be the best way to maximize anaerobic gains in this scenario.

Recognize that aerobic and anaerobic exercise is a continuum, not a hard-and-fast number. Both systems contribute to every action in some way, with each system having a larger part depending on the interval.

The longer the work cycle and the shorter the rest interval, the more your body will rely on anaerobic energy, assuming you’re raising the intensity accordingly.

To maximize the specific adaptation, it’s essential to remain with a single work-rest ratio over a 4-week period.

Your interval training plan should be customized to your needs and goals. It is important that you tailor it to how much time you have, what type of exercise equipment you use, the length and intensity of workouts, frequency (how many times a week), and whether or not weight-lifting is involved. If any one element changes in this equation, adjust accordingly so that you can continue progressing toward your fitness goal!

Interval running’s advantages

Interval running has several advantages. These include the usual aerobic exercise advantages, such as a decreased heart rate and lower blood pressure. Interval running, on the other hand, induces extra adaptations as a result of the high-intensity level reached during the hard intervals.

Interval running studies have revealed a slew of general health advantages, including the following:

  1. enhanced oxygen use capability, even in elderly persons
  2. a reduction in resting heart rate
  3. a lower blood pressure during rest
  4. reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors

These advantages are comparable to those gained from regular long-distance running at a slower pace.

Interval running, on the other hand, appears to have extra advantages over ordinary running, according to research:

  1. For the same outcomes, shorter workouts were used.
  2. sprinting performance increased with anaerobic intervals
  3. increasing reliance on fat as a source of energy
  4. insulin sensitivity has improved
  5. When anaerobic periods are used, muscle mass development is enhanced.

If you’re looking for an efficient way to improve your running performance, interval running may be the answer. Not only does it make you faster, but it can also help reduce your risk of injury. Give interval running a try and see how you like it – you may never go back to traditional long-distance runs again!

Interval running burns calories

Interval running burns calories

Many factors influence how many calories you burn during an interval running exercise, including your present weight and fitness level, the intensity of each work period, and the overall number of intervals performed.

A 20-minute bout of aerobic activity, such as interval running, may burn between 150 and 400 calories.

The increased intensity from the intervals, on the other hand, boosts your metabolism for the next 24–48 hours, allowing you to burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. Given the lower amount of time required for interval running exercises, this is favorable.

Interval running is a wonderful strategy to help weight loss programs when accompanied with a healthy eating plan.

Muscles that are engaged during interval training

Interval running engages the majority of the lower body’s bigger muscular groups. Interval running involves the following muscle groups, according to research based on electrical muscle activation measurements:

  1. quadriceps muscles (front thigh muscles)
  2. The gluteus maximus and medius are two muscles in the gluteus maximus (hip muscles)
  3. Soleus and gastrocnemius (calf muscles)
  4. the adductors (inner thigh muscles)
  5. tibialis anterior (shin muscles)
  6. Legs (hamstrings) (back thigh muscles)
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These muscles are nearly identical to those used in traditional running. Interval running, on the other hand, will provide a larger stimulation to these muscle fibers due to the increased time spent at higher intensities.

Muscles used in interval running are different from the muscles used when running at a steady pace. When you run intervals, your body recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers to produce energy quickly. This is why interval running is such an effective way to improve your speed and endurance. If you’re looking for an effective workout that will help you run faster and longer, try interval running!

Interval running’s potential dangers

In comparison to regular jogging, interval running is a safe technique to enhance cardiovascular fitness through shorter exercises.

Interval running, on the other hand, has a few possible drawbacks. These are mostly due to the increased intensity and effect of the faster-paced intervals.

During quicker running, the stress on the ankles, knees, and hips is higher.

After your first few of interval workouts, you’ll undoubtedly be very sore. While muscles adapt quickly, it takes longer for your joints and bones to adjust to the load.

Start carefully while beginning interval running to reduce the risk of injury. If you’re new to running, start with 10-minute jogs with a sprint at the finish twice a week for four weeks to become used to it.

Start with the beginning program and consider performing a single cluster for the first several weeks, with at least 2 full days between sessions, if you have experience running but not with intervals.

If you don’t overwhelm your body too rapidly and provide enough time for recuperation, your body will adapt to stress better.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, a brisk walk for the high-intensity phase and a gentle stroll for the low-intensity interval may be sufficient.

To decrease the impact, avoid hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt if at all feasible. Interval running is best done on a rubberized track, grass, or other softer surfaces.

Finally, between four-week intervals, always take an active rest week. Maintaining your fitness with a few short jogs or walks will help your body to recuperate for the next round of training.

So, interval running can be great for your overall fitness and health. But it’s important to know the risks before you start incorporating intervals into your regular routine. Be mindful of how often you run intervals, the intensity of those workouts, and listen to your body when it tells you to take a break. With a little caution, interval running can help make you faster, stronger, and healthier- without putting your long term health at risk.

The most frequently asked questions about

What do you do in between intervals of running?

The recovery should be between 100 percent and 50 percent as long as the repetition itself, according to a typical rule of thumb for such intervals. Between 800m repeats performed in 3 minutes, you should rest for 90 seconds to 3 minutes.

What is the definition of an interval running workout?

Interval running consists of high-intensity intervals followed by low-intensity intervals, walking, or rest. These cycles allow for higher workout intensities while reducing overall training time.

What constitutes an effective interval running workout?

  • Warm-up for 5 minutes with easy jogging.
  • Run at 75 percent intensity for 30 seconds, then at 25% intensity for 30 seconds.
  • On week 1, repeat for three cycles.
  • Perform the workout twice a week for four weeks, adding a new cycle each week.

What is the ideal length of an interval run?

The intervals should ideally last 15 to 20 minutes. Always remember to cool down afterwards, allowing your heart rate to gradually drop by walking it off—critical it’s to avoid injury.

 Is it possible for me to run intervals every day?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an acronym for high-intensity interval training. … So, should you undertake high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every day? You should not practice high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every day. To keep your body healthy, several health professionals recommend that you strive for roughly 30 minutes of cardiac activity every day.

Is it true that interval running can assist in weight loss?

Research analysis reveals that workouts that combine a range of hard activities with brief rest intervals in between may help people lose more weight than chugging along at a constant pace on a treadmill or exercise bike.

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