We have all heard it before from our friends. Sally is talking to you on the phone and says, “I ran 6 miles this morning”. Bill told you at work that “bootcamp class was quick and intense”. It makes you wonder which one is the best. First, you need to understand the definition of endurance and interval training.
Endurance training tests how long your muscle (including your heart) can handle the specific exercise you are doing whether that is the elliptical, running on a treadmill or rowing. We want our heart to be strong enough to finish an endurance workout. An endurance workout is going to be different for everyone. For some 20 minutes of walking is their limit while others it could be a 6-8 mile run which may take 60 minutes to complete. No matter what your limit is there are always ways to improve or lengthen your endurance trainings. One way to do this is through interval training.
Interval training is being able to increase your heart rate (anaerobic*)for 1-3 minutes and then allow it to come back down. This will be repeated several times throughout the workout. A great example of this is a typical bootcamp class. During the running portions, your instructor could ask you to run as fast as you can for 2-3 laps and then jog for 2-3 laps. You may repeat this series a few times. This is a simple interval training example. If you step out of your target heart rate zone*and allow yourself to work a little harder for a few minutes this will allow your muscles (including your heart) to get stronger. Therefore, allowing you to increase your walk on the treadmill or your time on the elliptical a little longer.
Both of these training types feed off of each other and should be interchanged throughout the week. Check out your gyms schedule or write a plan and stick with it for a few weeks. You will feel a difference and your muscles will thank you.
* anaerobic zone: a zone that is above your target heart rate zone. It is typically 10-20% higher than you are used to. Should not be able to stay in this zone for more than a few minutes
* target heart rate zone: the zone you are comfortable with and able to handle for longer periods of time. See my blog on heart rates to calculate yours.