Two Types of Interval Training: How to Choose The Right One

If you are on the lookout to improve your current physical workout regimen, look no further than interval training exercises! But whether you are a newcomer or a veteran to this type of fitness training, what are the two types of interval training that you should know about and how do you choose the right one? Here are the ways to know the difference between the two forms of interval training and how to know which one is the perfect fit for you!

Interval Training is divided into two categories: either fitness or performance. Fitness interval training is for beginner athletes, involving a low heart rate intensity for short periods. Performance interval training is for advanced athletes utilizing a higher heart rates for long periods.

What makes fitness interval training different from performance interval training? What are the different results from both types of training? Let’s go over what to know and keep in mind when it comes to finding the right type of interval training!

What is Interval Training?

If you’re new to the exercising and physical training scene, you may have never heard of the types of interval training before! Interval training is sometimes called high-intensity interval training. It is a form of speedwork that is made to get a person used to running at increased speeds. If it is performed well and consistently, interval training can vastly improve your fitness!

Fitness training is a great way to make yourself faster and your stamina greater.

Similar to using a walk-and-run plan that is made up of bursts of running with short walking breaks to recover, interval training takes this pattern and elevates it. In interval training, you run faster for a while, then take an ‘interval’ of slower running, or even do some brisk walking, to recover your breath, and do it again for a set number of repeats.

You have no limits when it comes to the type of interval training program you put together. Most experts will divide interval training into two key categories. Interval training programs are either of the fitness or performance variety! Depending on what results you want from your interval exercises, you may go with one type of training program, or use a combination of the two!

The Fitness Interval Training Type, or LIIT

Fitness interval training is the type of interval training that is recommended and given to beginner or intermediate exercisers and athletes. This type of training method is made up of periods of increased intensity at 60% to 85% heart rate reserve that often lasts between 2 to 5 minutes long. It is then followed by a lower intensity period of the same duration.

Some people also call fitness interval training LIIT. This stands for Low-Intensity Interval Training. It indicates a type of exercise that has higher and lower intensity intervals. It is similar to HIIT but the difference between the higher and lower types of exercise are that LIIT is not as intense as HIIT, as the names imply.

LIIT is more similar to a jog, while HIIT is more like a sprint.

Common Fitness Interval Training Exercises

Fitness interval exercises are praised by many since they are easier to do and safer for you. Since they are lower intensity, they run a lower risk of injury and fatigue.

Some fitness types of interval training exercises that focus on cardio include walking, hiking, running, jogging, swimming, rowing, aqua aerobics, deep water running, elliptical, stair climbing, shadow boxing, dancing, marching in place, recumbent bike, cross-country skiing, slide board ice skating, Zumba, step aerobics, outdoor cycling, punching a speed bag, kayaking, rollerblading, and skateboarding.

The above exercises are not the only fitness interval training exercises that exist, and some of them overlap with performance-type interval training plans. If you already partake in some of the above hobbies or sports, you can easily increase your heart rate during the activities or the length of the activities to meet your interval training program goals.

The Performance Interval Training Type, or HIIT

Performance Interval training is a more advanced and intensive form of interval training. It is recommended only for well-advanced athletes and active individuals. The Performance type utilizes periods of maximum intensity that is at an 85% to 100% heart rate reserve that often lasts from 2 to 15 minutes. Then this maximum intensity period needs to be followed by lower periods of the same or shorter duration.

Occasionally, performance interval training is also called HIIT. This stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. This name is used to indicate workouts that are challenging to you. These types of interval training workouts will elevate your cardio workout to a higher level.

These types of exercises will push you out of your comfort zone. They’ll make you sweat hard, work hard, and play hard. They are intensive exercises that back off for a lower recovery period, followed up by a round of high-intensity exercise. This process is repeated as many times as you can safely do.

This approach can save you time since you won’t have to work out for as long as you would if you were keeping a steady, slower pace of exercise. All of this will result in larger muscles, less weight, and a boosted metabolism. Your body will even burn calories for about 2 hours after you exercise!

Common Performance Interval Training Exercises

Some basic and popular forms of interval training exercises include but are not limited to bicep curls, reverse crunches, lat pull-downs, Russian twists, tricep extensions, chest presses, overhead presses, forward raises, hamstring curls, dips, leg raises, pull-ups, squats, lunges, step-ups, planks, and bird dog moves. These exercises are focused on enhancing and building up strength.

There are even more performance interval training exercises that exist than the ones listed above. These are just a great place for you to start, especially if you want to commit to the performance, more intensive type of interval training.

The Interval Running Training Type of Exercises

Some people say there is even a third type of interval training in addition to the fitness and performance type. Running interval training focuses especially on running-centered and endurance-centered interval exercises. This could include exercises like running, walking, fartlek workouts, hill repeats, sprints, and treadmill hill workouts.

Interval training helps runners so much since it will help them burn calories even faster, will enhance their endurance and strength, and it will help them prepare for any race or marathon! You can benefit from interval training programs designed for runners too.

Why Does Interval Training Work So Well?

Both types of interval training will work so well in improving your physical, mental, and emotional state because interval training always works repetitively on your aerobic and anaerobic systems.

In the anaerobic system, energy is metabolized and then stored in the muscles, or glycogen. This stored energy is then used for brief bursts of physical activity, all without needing to use oxygen.

Lactic acid will build up as a by-product of exercise and as you experience ‘oxygen debt’ while working out.

Your body will then recover as the lungs and heart labor and work together to give back some oxygen to the body. This flood of oxygen will help break down your lactic acid.

Finally, your aerobic system will then take over by using oxygen to change stored carbohydrates into energy! These scientific steps in interval training exercises will lead to your improved endurance, strength, and a better ability to break down lactic acid.

Popular Interval Training Exercises

There are a lot of different types of interval training exercises that can be found in the three main categories of this form of physical activity. After you review the above fitness, running, and performative-focused interval training types, choose whatever style will accomplish your goals most directly.

Most interval training exercises can be fit into or adapted into your existing physical activities and sports. It often comes down to altering the existing duration and intensity of your work intervals and resting breaks.

Jumping rope is a cheap, easy, and quick way to get into interval training and it will improve your cardiovascular fitness. Jump rope more often if you want improved muscle strength, better balance, more agility, higher endurance, and to burn up more calories.

30-second sprint drills are another popular choice in interval training. These drills will improve your capability for aerobic activity. Your fitness levels will increase and you will get similar benefits as you would from slow cardio while saving time.

Sprint and speed training drills are good for any type of sport. Perform these to get a mix of both endurance and speed in your workouts. If you consistently perform sprint and speed training drills for at least 3 months, you’ll soon be able to run for up to 20 to 30 minutes at a time!

Explosive exercise training routines are yet another type of helpful interval training exercise. Do these to increase your body’s strength and power. Lots of elite athletes and trainers use this exercise since it demands a quick burst of concentrated effort in a very brief amount of time. Explosive exercise training routines usually involve jumping or sprinting.

Another terrific interval training exercise is an agility drill! Agility drills will help you improve your speed, power, coordination, and your overall sports skills. They’re also perfect for improving foot speed and sports techniques in general.

Shuttle runs are often included in interval training since it is a common type of speed and agility drill for athletes who play stop-and-start sports. These sports include but are not limited to things like soccer, hockey, basketball, and tennis.

Stair running is a more intense form of these interval training exercises since it builds up your power, speed, and cardiovascular fitness. It will improve your foot speed and is a great selection to add for sprint and running-focused workouts.

Plyometric jumping exercises are used to develop athletic power, increase speed, increase strength, build coordination, and improve agility for heightened and better sports performance.

Finally, tuck jumps are simple drill exercises that build up your dynamic power and agility. They are a good choice for if you are working to achieve a vertical jump. Tuck jumps will help you grow proficiency in high jumps, long jumps, box jumps, and vertical jumps.

Why Interval Training is Good for You

You may be wondering if integrating the above three types of interval training into your life will be worthwhile. Well, interval training is so useful and effective because it can be applied to all levels of fitness training!

This means that people who are beginners, intermediate fitness exercisers, and expert athletes will be able to find interval training regimens that work for them. 

Interval training also has the positive ability to enable you to engage in more intensive training while avoiding excessive fatigue. 

Intense repetition makes the athlete’s body react by adapting to the new process. This is called the Adaption Response. This positive response leads to newly formed capillaries, muscles that can better tolerate lactic acid build-up, reduced injuries, better aerobic power, better fitness levels, and increased stamina!

With new capillaries built, your oxygen will be able to reach your muscles at a faster rate. This will lead to strengthened muscle groups. The muscle of the heart will especially be built up and strengthened thanks to interval training.

Interval training will also help your cardiovascular system and muscles improve in resistance. This means that your muscles will be able to tolerate lactic acid build-up better as you work out and after your exercises. This will improve your well-being and your athletic performance.

Injuries will occur less often with interval training. All injuries caused by long-term, repetitive exercises will happen less and less to you or not at all. This is because interval training types of exercises aim to avoid overtraining and harmful burn-out.

Finally, interval training is also so fantastic since it increases your fitness ability, and aerobic power, and directs your energy efficiently. Interval training is a great way to go about tackling a brand-new exercise activity since it also helps you avoid tiring out too quickly.

Great Gear for Interval Training

If you are considering implementing fitness or performance interval training into your daily life and workouts, gear can help keep you on track! There are nifty interval training stopwatches, how-to books, and even interval workout games to make things more fun. The products can be fairly affordable and helpful in helping you stay on track for all of your exercise goals.


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