For most of my training life I’ve performed low impact steady state cardio.
However, with my new goal of participating in endurance events, I’ve had to adapt my approach to cardio to become more aerobically conditioned.
One of the methods I’ve implemented to accomplish this goal is interval training.
This is the perfect type of training to quickly improve aerobic capacity to become the ultimate athlete.
In today’s installment, I’m going to give you an overview of the strategies I’ve been using within my interval training to maximize my results.
Varied Interval Durations
To become a truly diverse athlete who is able to tackle a marathon yet still have the physical capabilities to dominate a DTP workout, it’s critical that my aerobic and anaerobic thresholds are high. Additionally, my ability to buffer lactic acid efficiently is essential.
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Otherwise, my muscles would simply falter from the workloads I’m instilling on them. This is why I employ varied interval durations when doing my training.
For example, while one interval workout might task me with a 60 second “all out” effort phase followed by 60 seconds rest, the next could be 15 seconds “all out” with 30 seconds rest. The ratio between work and rest dictates the amount of effort I’m able to put into each interval.
When my rest period is longer than my work interval, I should have more energy and be able to put more into those blocks compared to sessions where the work intervals are longer than the rest breaks.
Pushing my body to get back to work after a short break taxes my anaerobic fitness, while the longer rest times allow my body more time to recover aerobically. With each variation, a new threshold is trained which tests my capabilities and pushes me to new limits as an athlete.
The aim of all my training sessions is to remove any weakness in my physical conditioning. Being fit within one specific format won’t cut it at the events I’m participating in, hence the inclusion of varied durations in my training protocol.
One of the biggest factors in improving one's fitness levels is increasing the volume used within training sessions. When talking about interval training, this can be accomplished in two main ways: by increasing the length of time you perform at your highest output, or by performing more rounds of work. Both approaches tax your body in different ways and will improve your endurance exponentially.
With the first approach, you focus on increasing the volume of work you do per round. For example, rather than doing a 20 second sprint interval, I’ll work my way up to 45 seconds.
Remember, this interval is focused on performing at your “all out” effort level, so you will need to increase this time gradually to ensure you’re still maximizing the whole interval. If I find that my performance during my “all out” interval isn’t where I want it to be, I’ll pull it back by 5 seconds so I can keep the intensity where I need it.
On the other hand, the second approach involves increasing the volume by adding more rounds of work to your training session. For example, if I’m able to complete 20 rounds of 25 seconds “all out” effort with 35-second rest intervals, and increase this to 30 rounds over a four-week period, it’s clear that I’ve become fitter. Aerobically and anaerobically my body has become more conditioned.
Altering volume, in this case by adding rounds, is another tactic you can use to continue progressing.
I’ve learned that it’s important to be gradual with progression with this sort of training because intervals are intense. For example, increase your volume by two or three rounds, don’t immediately jump to an additional ten rounds. This is a principle I’ve applied since the beginning of my IRONMAN training to ensure I keep overcoming plateaus in my physical conditioning.
Usually my interval training is performed on a Woodway curved running machine or a bike. However, as swimming is one of the events in the IRONMAN, I have incorporated this into my training cycle. Not only do I need to perfect my skills in the water, but it gives me another modality to include in my exercise rotation throughout the week, and a new type of interval training.
Each modality comes with its own challenges, making each workout difficult in a new way – further elevating my fitness levels. Exercise rotation is important, not only to become a better-rounded athlete, but it also helps to avoid injuries from repetitive muscle and joint patterns.
Additionally, including other forms of cardio such as biking and swimming reduce the impact on my joints.
With this rotation, I’m able to improve my physical fitness in the events I’ll compete in, while simultaneously achieving more volume with less physical risk. Due to the sheer mileage I’m covering on top of my regular bodybuilding training, being conscious of the risk of over-taxing my joints and potentially incurring injuries is more important than ever.
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To this point, if my body feels particularly beat up after a few days of running, I’ll jump in the pool to give my joints a break from any impact stress without having to miss a day of training. In order to be my absolute best on race day, I need to train both effectively and intelligently.
Supplementing for Performance
Over the course of my competitive athletic career, I’ve learned how important supplementation is for your performance. Having a solid training and nutrition plan is my primary focus, but when you’re really pushing your body to a new level, like I am with the IRONMAN training, the addition of key supplements is critical.
Obviously, as the CEO and founder of KAGED MUSCLE, I rely on these products to fuel my workouts and recovery.
My typical routine includes an intra-workout supplement. As interval training is so draining, replacing the lost electrolytes is imperative. An added bonus, I like to add it to coconut water which helps with hydration – a factor I can’t ignore with the lengthy durations of my sessions.
When it comes to recovery, I make certain to have a solid dose of fast-digesting protein after training. I use a post workout protein that consists of a whey isolate with nine essential amino acids as well as glutamine and creatine.
While some whey protein products may cause bloating, I use one that is easily digestible, allowing easier and faster absorption. After some of my more intense cardio-based training sessions, this makes for a more enjoyable post-workout meal.
Interval training is very intense in nature, made even more intense as I’m doing it in such long sessions. Due to the relatively short time period I’ve given myself to get ready for a full IRONMAN, interval training is perfect because it’s helped condition my body very quickly.
These principles are helping me reach my athletic goals in the smartest and safest way possible. This approach, coupled with a balanced nutrition and supplement plan, ensure that I’m able to perform at my best on race day.