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Interval training is the use of high intensity exercise interspersed with periods of active or passive recovery or rest.
The use of interval training has become a more prominent form of training because of the increased time to fatigue. But how do you set intervals? Intervals can be prescribed specifically to meet your needs and goals. This can be done by performing a simple fitness test; a set distance, time trial or a set time run (cycle, swim etc.) and using the results to calculate Max Aerobic Speed (MAS).
Max Aerobic Speed coincides with an individual's VO2MAX, which is their maximal amount of oxygen consumption used to create energy molecules. The MAS provides a speed or velocity which elicits the persons VO2MAX.
Current research into interval exercise and training methods says that in order to get the greatest gains from training using this type of training, you should be working at 120% of your MAS, as that is the determined intensity where you exercise at levels above your VO2MAX for the greatest period of time before fatigue.
So how can you calculate MAS?
Based on the results, for instance a person completed a 3km Time Trial in 12minutes.
Convert the distance to metres by multiplying by 1000
3km x 1000 = 3000m
Convert the time in minutes to seconds by multiplying by 60
12minutes x 60 = 720s
Now simply divide the distance (metres) by the time (seconds)
3000m/720s = 4.17metres/second (m/s)
Multiply this value by 1.2 in order to determine 120% of your MAS
4.17 x 1.2 = 5m/s
From this value in metres/second you can calculate the required distance to be covered in a set time distance by multiplying by the time in seconds
E.g. a 15 second work interval
5 m/s x 15s = 75m
Depending on your training goals the work to rest ratio can change, typically with this type of training being for aerobic endurance, the intervals are 1:1.
E.g. 15 seconds work, 15 seconds rest