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Research Confirms Benefits Of Interval Training

Short bursts of high intensity exercise, otherwise known as interval training, has once again proven itself to be the ideal exercise for improving fitness and increasing fat loss.

A recent study by Canadian researchers found that six sessions of high-intensity interval training on a stationary bike increased muscle oxidative capacity by almost 50 percent and endurance capacity by an amazing 100 percent! The test subjects made these significant improvements exercising a mere 15 minutes in two weeks. They completed eight sets of 30 second bursts (maximum effort) followed by four minutes of low intensity aerobic recovery between sets.

This is very similar to the Sprint Eight Interval Training method that I’ve personally seen produce great results. The difference being the test subjects used longer recovery times (4 minutes) versus the 1:30 recovery periods used in Sprint Eight interval training.

Watch the short video below to learn more about interval training.

The key element in the success of interval training is working at maximum effort (95-100% max heart rate) during the interval period. This new study shows the recovery period can be longer, but it’s the all out effort during the short bursts that really counts.

A follow-up study in moderately active women using the same interval training method showed increased muscle capacity for fat use during exercise. This helps to debunk the myth that low-intensity aerobic exercise at long durations is best for fat loss.

Martin Gibala from McMaster University in Canada described the physiological adaptations to interval training in his findings published in (The Applied Physiology Nutrition Metabolism, 34: 428-432, 2009).

Interval training improves fat utilization as energy

The study showed that interval training activates an oxidative enzyme system, PGC-1aplha, that stimulates the growth of mitochondria in muscle cells. The mitochondria are the energy centers of the cells that convert nutrients to energy for the muscles during exercise. The bottom line on this is the better you can convert energy at the cells, the more efficient you’ll be at burning fat.

High intensity, short-duration interval training also causes increased production of powerful fat burning activators – growth hormone and adrenal hormones; adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Once again research has shown that it’s the all out effort (short bursts at 95-100% max heart rate) that drives these hormonal responses.

Interval Training Raises Levels Of Powerful Fat Buring Hormones

The hormones adrenaline and nor-adrenaline are essential in the fat burning process. They don’t get nearly enough discussion regarding their roles. I’m going to get a little technical for a minute but stick with me and you’ll better understand how your body burns fat.

While adrenaline is produced from the adrenal glands (two small glands located over each kidney), its sister nor-adrenaline, which is slightly different in chemical structure is generated at the nerve endings.

Why are there two sources for this hormone? Because nor-adrenaline can only be generated in the nerve endings of certain cells. Cells that don’t get much blood circulation (like fat cells) aren’t candidates for adrenaline which is circulated through the blood.

Interval training is the secret for losing stubborn belly fat

As you can see, nor-adrenaline is really the key for stimulating fat release from the cells. This is especially true in those stubborn areas like the stomach and hip area.

When you go on low-calorie restrictive diets you decrease the generation of nor-adrenaline at the nerve sites. This is the main reason why low-calorie diets are terribly ineffective at reducing fat around the midsection. There’s a lot behind this in regards to cell receptors and hormones but I won’t bore you with the details.

The reason I bring this all up is to further promote the benefits of high-intensity interval training. Low-intensity aerobic exercise done at slow-moderate paces over long durations simply can’t have the same impact hormonally and at the nerve endings as short bursts of all out effort.

If you want to lose that stubborn fat around your midsection and hips you’ve got to create the right hormonal responses. This means eating the correct quantity and quality of calories to support lean muscle (without reducing metabolism and thyroid production) while creating a fat burning response with high-intensity, short duration exercise.

To learn more about how to do interval training check out my previous blog post entitled, “How To Guide For Interval Training.”

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studio. Click on the free personal training tab above to learn more about the no-obligations trial of our programs.

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Category: Fitness Training.