Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interval Training Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about the love/hate relationship that I have with intervals and promised that I would share with you some of the more scientific information that I found on the subject. I know that you would be really disappointed if I didn’t follow through so here goes.

A majority of the useful information that found was taken from the Cycling Performance Tips website at the following URL This is a great website. There’s nothing flashy about it at all. Just a bunch of information about cycling and the science behind it. If you’ve got a minute you should check it out.

Anyway, back to intervals.

So, why the heck would anyone in their right mind subject themselves to intervals.

Here’s the reason.
When you train to your maximum by doing intervals changes occur which will allow you to push even farther into your anaerobic zone the next time out. This is because:
  • Your muscle metabolism changes to extract more oxygen from every milliliter of blood flowing through the muscle capillaries
  • More capillaries develop in the muscles
  • Your heart adapts to pump more blood for any specific time interval
  • You learn to mentally deal with the pain and exercise through it

How often should you do intervals?

Intervals are most effective when:
  • They are limited to twice a week during the peak training season
  • The interval sessions are separated by at least 48 hours to allow adequate recovery.

What’s more important the intensity of the interval or the duration?
The answer is the intensity not the frequency or duration of interval training.
A study of interval training for 10 weeks found the following in a group of cyclists (all groups started off with a base of 40 minutes of intervals 6 times a week):
One group maintained exercise intensity, but decreased the duration of each session by 66%. The second group maintained exercise intensity, but decreased the frequency to 2 times a week. And the third maintained the frequency and duration, but decreased the intensity of the sessions.

The conclusion was the VO2max of the first two groups held constant, while that of the third decreased. So, intensity is more important than either the duration of the intervals or the frequency per week in maximizing the benefit of intervals on performance.

So I think it’s pretty clear that intervals are important but not the only type of training you should do during these horrible winter months.

As I stare out the window while I’m typing I’m really glad that I’m not out in the rain that has been coming down for days. I think I’ll just ride my trainer tonight while watching 24.

1 comment:

Jenny-Jenny said...

That's interesting. So it's not something you want to do everytime you exercise. I am very happy to hear that. I only have to do it twice a week with no guilt on the others.