If you have been exercising on a regular basis and are looking to further improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, consider incorporating high intensity interval training into your regimen. Any activity is better than none in terms of improving fitness, but greater gains can be made by increasing the intensity of a workout. This can be done either by steadily increasing the intensity level of continuous exercise or by mixing in short bursts of high intensity exercise (high intensity interval training).
During aerobic exercises, an athlete maintains a steady pace for a prolonged period. Oxygen is used to metabolize substrates from energy stores and to deliver energy to muscles. Think of it like a slow burn.
Anaerobic exercises, on the other hand, are high intensity events, such as sprinting, where the body has to rely on non-oxygen sources of energy. Anaerobic metabolism in the cells produces waste molecules that can impair muscle contractions and cause fatigue. This makes sense when we think about how long we can maintain high intensity activities (not long!).
Aerobic workouts are designed to increase endurance and stamina. When planning an aerobic workout it is important to set a steady pace that can be maintained for a long period of time. In order for the workout to improve cardiovascular endurance the training should mimic the event or activity the athlete is training for. Athletes who focus solely on aerobic training may find that they experience a decrease in muscular power and strength, according to the American Sports Medicine Institute.
Combining anaerobic and aerobic training into one training program can significantly improve cardiorespiratory fitness. Several studies have shown that higher intensity training leads to greater increases in fitness, but one study specifically showed that interval training at near maximal intensity led to the greatest gains overall.
High intensity interval training is an anaerobic conditioning program that stresses the body in order to improve speed, strength, and endurance. By alternating between short bursts of high intensity activities like sprinting with short cool down periods of lower intensity activities like jogging, interval training pushes the body but does not give it the opportunity to recover entirely. This type of training program can improve an athletes’ ability to tolerate and utilize the increased concentrations of lactic acid that form during anaerobic activities. Although interval training focuses predominately on anaerobic training, it also improves cardiovascular endurance, notes the Mayo Clinic.
A successful training program is designed to meet the individual needs of an athlete. However, by combining aerobic and anaerobic workouts into one training plan, athletes can improve endurance, stamina, strength and power. Athletes who are training for distances will want the majority of their training plans to be aerobic, with anaerobic exercises thrown in. Athletes whose goals require short bursts of speed and power may focus more on interval training mixing in some aerobic training. When creating a training program, the most important thing to remember is not to push the body to the point of injury. Talk to one of our fitness experts about designing a high intensity interval training program for you!
Dr. GreenTags: aerobic, anaerobic, Dr. Green, exercise, MedFit, Poudre Valley Medical Fitness, workout tips