What is interval training?

February 21, 2019

Common types of interval Training

Okay, so let's quickly break this down. What is Interval Training? Interval training is a type of training performed in short bursts of work, followed by short bursts of recovery and repeated in a cycle. These are usually timed intervals (ex: 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off) or this can be REPS based (ex: 30 repetitions of one exercise, recover, and repeat).

Interval training is hugely popular as it tends to not be as long and repetitive as continuous training (ex: cycling or running long distances). Interval Training has been around since the early 1930s when Swedish coach, Gosta Holmer, started using a form of Interval Training known as Fartlek Training which focused on working at very high intensities during shorter intervals during a workout. Many different researchers have suggested that performing interval training at high intensities can in fact have the same benefits of working at lower intensities for longer periods. In other words, a short 30-minute Interval Class can be just as good for you as going for a 2/3 hour run. Now of course, please understand that you can not practice running a marathon without learning how to run a marathon.

As previously stated, to get the most out of interval training it should be performed at high intensities. This is where we get into the HIIT principle. HIIT is High-Intensity Interval Training, although I personally think we should call this Highest Intensity Interval Training because it sometimes gives the wrong impression. Now, remember, HIIT is not for everyone and in fact, should only be performed once or twice a week. According to Les Mills, HIIT is interval training that is performed at or above 90% of your Max Heart Rate and should only be performed for 30-40 minutes a week. Any more than this could reduce your performance and has the potential to increase the risk of injury.

There are many different types of Interval Training, but the most popular are Fartlek, HIIT, and Tabata.


A mix of continuous training and harder working intervals with very little recovery mixed in. For example, if you could jog around a football pitch then have an explosive sprint along one side of the pitch, instead of recovering from that sprint you would go straight back into the jog around the rest of the pitch before sprinting again at the same spot.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training):

Performed at the highest intensity possible for participants. This is rarer and usually limited to professional athletes and done with trainers who can track and ensure that it is done safely.


Probably the most frustrating of the three as it is rarely taught correctly, in fact, it is usually just a timed interval class, 20 seconds on 10 seconds off, and repeat that 8 times. Check out future blogs we will have coming soon on Tabata training and the correct ways to make it a part of your fitness routine. As always, give us a shout on our socials and let us know what questions you have!

Glen McCready, Strategic Network Advisor

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