ATLETA Fitness

Benefits of Interval Training

Article by Tory Nicholas

Are you getting involved in the running season this year? With so many fun runs on offer everyone’s giving it a go. Make sure you don’t become one of the many people running the same 5km loop everyday, wondering isn’t getting any easier. It’s time to try interval training! These sessions will improve your technique and pace over the course of any distance, in turn enabling you to run faster in your training sessions and smash your goal on race day! Ok, so it will improve your running, but there are many other benefits that come from adding interval training into your routine. Let’s have a look at how you can perform interval training and some of the benefits that it delivers to fitness, health and performance.

Interval training session for runners can include the intermittent use of stairs, hills and sprints. Putting in a near maximal effort over a short period of time and performing a number of repetitions with fixed periods of work at a much lower intensity or even complete rest in between. Training sessions of this style will help develop your anaerobic capacity so that you can run a faster time on race day. By pushing into your anaerobic work zone you will also help improve your heart health, putting you at a much lower risk of a number of lifestyle related diseases.

Your body will begin to go through many physiological changes as a result of interval training such as an increase in cardiovascular efficiency resulting in an increased ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Interval sessions will also result in the build up of lactic acid front he high intensity efforts so the more you train alike this, your body will develop an increased tolerance to the build up of lactic acid and become more efficient at clearing it from your system. These physiological changes will help improve your performance increasing both your speed and endurance.


Many of us are busy and working long hours which is another great benefit of interval training as you only need to train for much shorter bouts to get the same benefits, it’s a win win situation. It is a very time efficient way of training as a good session can be squeezed into just 20 minutes. Try running around a football or hockey field; put in an 80-90% effort down the long side and then do a very slow recovery jog down the short side and repeat this lap for 20 minutes – then your session is done! You can also perform interval training on cardio equipment at the gym using a similar format. These interval sessions can even fit into your lunch break, they will also help enhance your performance in the office making you more alert and switched on for the rest of the afternoon.

An interval session requires no equipment, which means it can be done anywhere even when you are on holiday. Source out hills in your local area and sprint up at 80% for approx. 30-60 seconds and then walk/slow jog back down to the bottom before repeating. You can use signposts on your street as markers for your increased efforts and recovery periods, or a sports field the options are endless. The added bonus of interval training is that it’s better for weight loss than steady state exercise. So what are you waiting for? Give interval training a try today!

If you are needing help with your interval training, its not too late to join in on ATLETA’s City to Surf run group, with interval sessions every Wednesday at 6.30am and Saturday at 8.00am.

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