Interval training is the process of doing a move and then taking a short break before moving on to the next. Perhaps the most popular example is HIIT, or high intensity interval training, where a move is repeated for a certain increment of time (usually in 45 second intervals) with a short rest in between (usually 15 second intervals). Following each rest, a new move is started in the same interval format.
Generally, the interval format will be followed through multiple moves until you have finished a workout ranging from 5 to 60 minutes or more, depending on your endurance levels and the degree of training you’re participating in. HIIT is extremely effective at raising your heart rate and making use of your body’s natural ability to go hard for short bursts. The short recovery period gives you the chance to catch your breath, but isn’t so long that it allows your heart rate to lower substantially. Keeping the rest short also keeps the workout very efficient and high calorie burning.
HIIT isn’t the only form of interval training, though. LIIT, or low intensity interval training, is also a very popular form of interval training that will allow your body to follow a similar interval format–this time with easier moves. Generally, a LIIT workout will have longer workout intervals since the moves are lower in intensity. This means you might squat for 1-2 minutes and then rest for 10-30 seconds before moving on to another low intensity move, like side steps.
Either form of interval training can prove to be very effective in building strength and/or burning calories, depending on the type of moves you incorporate. But, it all begs the question: Is interval training the most effective way to workout? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you may have hoped.
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to structure your workout. Interval training is a favorite for many, especially HIIT, because of its calorie burning potential. But, you might prefer steady state cardio where you sustain a single pace over a prolonged period of time, which also has its benefits (like building endurance). Running, swimming, and bicycling are all forms of steady state cardio.
However, if you want to burn as many calories as possible in a short amount of time, HIIT might be a good thing to try. On the other hand, if you want to work on your strength while still working up a sweat, LIIT might be for you. It all comes down to your goals and abilities.