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Shula's Athletic Club is located in beautiful Miami Lakes, Florida and has been one of South Florida's premier fitness and wellness centers since 1982. Our staff is dedicated to improving the “quality of life” of our members and the community of Miami Lakes. This is achieved every day by providing our members with a warm and welcoming environment, extensive programming, a team of caring professionals, and the best fitness equipment and sports facilities available.

What is Interval Training?

What is interval training?

Interval training is a method of training where you increase and decrease the intensity of your workout between aerobic and anaerobic training. Interval training in Sweden, where some say it originated, is known as fartlek training (Swedish for "speed play"). The protocol for interval training is to push your body past the aerobic threshold for a few moments and then return to your aerobic conditioning level with the objective of improving your performance (speed, strength, and endurance). The aerobic threshold is the intensity where your body switches from burning a greater percentage of fat to a greater percentage of carbohydrate and is generally 85% of your maximum heart rate (train below 85% and it's aerobic; train above 85% and it's anaerobic).

How are interval-training sessions designed?

The idea is to set up work to active-recovery ratios (work:active-recovery) in intervals of minutes. For instance, let's say you usually train comfortably at 6 mph on the treadmill. So, after your warm up and a few minutes at 6 mph, you sprint for one minute at 7.5 mph and then jog again at 6 mph for three minutes (1:3 ratio: a total of four minutes). You continue these intervals for your entire workout and then cool down for about five minutes.

How do I determine how hard to work?

Heart rate is a good indicator of how hard you're working, and it's easy to measure, so it's an ideal method for setting up and monitoring intervals. Here's an example. Say your heart rate is 70% of your predicted maximum when you jog at 6 mph. After you warm up and spend a few minutes at that pace, you increase the speed for your work interval to 7 mph, which might be 85% or even 90% of heart rate max, and then you cut back on the speed to 6 mph at a heart rate of 70% of max for your active-recovery. Below is a sample 28-minute interval workout (excluding warm-up and cooldown). Keep in mind that you can spend the entire workout doing them or vary it and do just some of the work intervals, and note that the time of each interval in this example always adds up to four minutes.
Warm-up: five minutes at 5-6 mph
Interval 1: three minutes at 6 mph (70% of max heart rate)
Interval 2: one minute at 7 mph (80% of max heart rate)
Interval 3: three minutes at 6 mph
Interval 4: one minute at 7 mph
Interval 5: three minutes at 6 mph
Interval 6 - harder: one minute at 7.5 mph (85% of max heart rate)
Interval 7: three minutes at 6 mph
Interval 8: one minute at 7.5 mph
Interval 9: three minutes at 6 mph
Interval 10: one minute 7.5 mph
Interval 11: three minutes at 6 mph
Interval 12: one minute 7.5 mph
Interval 13: three minutes at 6 mph
Interval 14: last push -- one minute at 8 mph (90% of heart rate max)
Cooldown: five minutes at 5-6 mph, then walk
Some athletes train as high as 100% of heart rate maximum. I don't recommend that beginners go above 85%-90%. 1:3 work:active-recovery ratios are the standard starting point.

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