Interval training is an important ingredient in increasing athletic performance. It is recommended for swimmers, runners, skaters, and cyclists, and I assume it is valuable to most other athletes. Interval training consists of short periods of intense training separated by short recovery periods.

These bursts of activity, at full exertion, force your body to utilize its anaerobic system to produce energy. As activity becomes so intense that the normal aerobic system does not have enough oxygen to produce the necessary energy, the anaerobic system kicks in. However, the anaerobic system burns carbohydrates and cannot produce energy for very long periods of time. Interval training increases the amount of time your anaerobic system can be productive, and also increases your VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake capacity).

c.f. fartlek training

In weightlifting, interval training refers to how many reps and how much weight is used in each set. As an example, a weightlifter doing a set of barbell curls might start with a set of 12 barbell curls at 20 pounds (a warm up set), followed by a set of 8 barbell curls at 40 pounds, followed by a set of 6 barbell curls at 50 pounds.

The idea behind this method is that varying the low intensity high repetition exercise with the high intensity low repetition exercise will stress different fibers in the muscle, leading to more growth.

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