In 2013, the world went mad for the seven-minute workout. In 2016, it was the one-minute workout. But as workouts get shorter, we’re told that results get better. How does that work?
It all comes down to interval training.
Interval training is when your incorporate short bursts of intense activity into your workout – say, 30 seconds of cycling, star jumps, crunches, or sprints as if your life depended on it – followed by 90 or so seconds of more gentle activity.
Endurance athlete and AIA Vitality ambassador Sam Gash is an avid fan of interval training, and regularly works in sprint intervals into her running routine.
“It’s one of the most efficient ways of actually improving your aerobic capacity,” she says. “It’s also a really good use of time. I could go out for a three hour run, or I could do an interval session for an hour or so.”
Interval training, Tabata and HIIT workouts are types of anaerobic exercise, which involve quick bursts of energy at max capacity. Anaerobic exercise uses stored energy in your muscles (rather than oxygen) and also breaks down glucose. This is all happening in your body during those 30-second bursts.
But when you’re in your ‘gentle’ mode (which isn’t really that gentle!), your aerobic form kicks in. Your breathing and heart rate increase as more blood is pumped around your body, and you start using oxygen to convert stored carbs into energy.
The more your body acclimatises to operating in this anaerobic/aerobic manner, the better your muscles may become at working hard – and efficiently – before they get tired or sore.
Sam, who has run 200kms non-stop through the Himalayas and 379km – also non-stop – across Australia’s Simpson Desert (along with a host of other incredible feats!), says that interval training is also a powerful tool in building resilience. “It’s a really good tool to remind ourselves of our capacity to survive in discomfort,” she says.
Looking for more reasons why you should incorporate interval training into your next workout? Say no more.