Interval Training and Endurance Training: What’s the Difference?

endurance training

Hop on that bike for a little endurance training or interval training. They both rock! Credit: lululemon athletica

This guest post on interval training and endurance training from the fitness experts at Life Fitness is a part of our second-annual New Year, New Rear Week to help you to be fitter, healthier and a touch (okay, a lot!) more awesome in 2012. Read all New Year, New Rear posts here!

Many exercisers—both newbies and seasoned workout-ers—wonder what the differences are between interval training and steady pace or endurance training. Both workout styles offer valuable health benefits, but it helps to understand the effect each style has on the body so you get the most out of your workout time. Because time is precious, after all!

What Is Endurance Training?

Endurance training helps develop a stronger cardiovascular system, including the heart, lungs and blood vessels, and can add years to your life. Cardiovascular endurance also enhances your heart’s ability to control the oxygen flow to all of your muscles, improving your overall workout efficiency. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Do this and you will see improved endurance, stronger muscles, better sleep and reduced stress levels. Endurance exercises to try include running, walking, swimming, bicycling, dancing—any sport or exercise that can be performed for longer periods of time to get the heart a-pumpin’.

What Is Interval Training?

For the average exerciser who is trying to lose fat, interval training is more effective than steady pace or endurance training. Swap out an endurance run for an interval workout to help burn calories faster. By breaking up your workout and adding some high-intensity bursts, you’ll churn through calories.

What is an interval? Interval training simply means alternating the intensity by changing your pace, resistance or movement several times during your workout. You can create interval workouts with almost any mode of cardio activity. Create a pattern of working at a moderate pace of 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, then push your level up to a high intensity of 75 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, followed by an active-recovery period to bring your heart rate back down. Keep in mind that active recovery means keeping your feet moving and breathing deeply; don’t stop dead in your tracks. For more assistance, seek out the help of a certified personal trainer.

Thanks again to Life Fitness for the tips! Which do you prefer: endurance training or interval training? Or, like us, do you prefer a little of both each week? —Jenn

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