Wellness Partners

Interval Training: Benefits and Tips for Fitness Pros

Mar 15, 2023
Last Updated Jun 1, 2023

As they say, “variety is the spice of life!” Nobody wants to do the exact same thing every day — just thinking about it feels boring. And boredom can derail even the most committed fitness fan.

That’s why interval training can be a popular choice for both experienced athletes and beginners alike. By understanding the different types of interval training available and their benefits, you can help your clients maximize their results from this popular exercise method.

What is Interval Training?

Interval training alternates between short bursts of activity and rest. It usually involves doing a movement for a certain period of time, then resting for a few seconds or minutes before repeating the cycle. It aims to mix up different forms of exercise so people alternate between higher-intensity, moderate-intensity, and low-intensity activity.

If you’re building an interval training program for your clients, there are several ways to customize it to their goals and fitness levels. These include:

  • Work interval duration (could be defined based on time or distance covered)
  • Duration of rest interval
  • Work interval intensity
  • The number of repetitions to complete in each interval.

Types of Interval Training

There are several common types of interval training. Depending on their goals and preferred workout style, you can choose different techniques for your client.

Fartlek Training

Fartlek trainingwas developed in Sweden in the 1930s. The name roughly translates into English as “speed play.” It involves combining sprinting and jogging at varying speeds and intensity levels.

As its name suggests, it’s a playful, more relaxed approach to interval training. Instead of sticking to predetermined distances or lengths of intervals, it’s up to the runner to choose how often and how far they’ll run at each pace.

Sprint Interval Training

Sprint interval training is another type of interval training for runners. They sprint a short distance and then walk back to the starting point. The walk back is their recovery period. This can help them build up their cardiovascular fitness and running speed.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT intersperses short periods of intense exercise with less intense recovery periods. It typically involves exercises such as sprints, push-ups, burpees, and other bodyweight exercises.

The American College of Sports Medicinerecommends high-intensity periods be performed at 80% to 95% of a person’s estimated maximum heart rate. In comparison, the recovery periods should be 40% to 50%.

Four Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training helps people build their fitness and stay engaged with their workout plans. Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest benefits.

  1. Burns More Calories

Interval training seems to burn more calories compared with steady-state workouts. There’s only a little research on this topic, but one study in theJournal of Strength and Conditioning Researchfound its participants burned more calories doing a HIIT workout than spending the same amount of time doing continuous exercise.

  1. Adds Variety to Your Workouts

Instead of doing the same exercise over and over, interval training mixes things up. It can be used to break up a long workout session and make it more enjoyable.

For example, if your client is training for their first ever 10km run, they probably don’t want to hit the treadmill for an hour at a steady pace. Sure, it’s good practice for race day, but they’ll get bored pretty quickly. You can mix up their training sessions by adding intervals at different paces, inclines, and durations to keep them mentally engaged with their workout.

  1. Is a Time-Efficient Way to Workout

Interval training can help peopleburn more calories more quickly. The study we mentioned above showed that people burned more calories during HIIT workouts than steady-state exercise. It also showed people burned those calories despite spending less time working out.

HIIT sessions are normally quite short — twenty to thirty minutes, not including warm-up and cool-down time. This is because (as their name suggests) they’re very intense. They get the body working hard, so clients can see the benefits of shorter workouts without spending hours in the gym.

  1. Can Help Reduce Risks of Injury

Injuries from overuse or overtrainingare all too common — both for endurance athletes and beginners who go too hard, too soon.

Interval training can help your clients avoid injuries associated with repetitive overuse. Instead of running non-stop, they’ll change between walking and running, for example, so they are switching up their movements and intensity. 

Interval Training Tips and Best Practices

Interval training is an effective way to boost your fitness and get the most out of a workout. To help you make the most of your interval training program, here are some tips and best practices that will maximize the benefits for you or your clients.

Structure Intervals to Maximize Effectiveness

When structuring interval training, it’s important to consider your client’s goals and fitness level. They may need to focus on shorter, more intense intervals (such as sprints) or longer, slower intervals.

You can also adjust the duration of the work and rest intervals to make it more challenging or easier. For example, your client could do 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise then 20 seconds of rest. Alternatively, they may need a shorter workout interval and longer recovery.

It’s a good idea to have your client keep track of their heart rate while doing interval training. This will help them gauge their intensity level and ensure they’re not overworking themselves.

Ensure Proper Form

Just like any workout, it’s important your clients understand the importance of proper form, technique, and body alignment. This will help reduce their risk of injury and ensure that they are getting the most out of each exercise.

One advantage of interval training is that it incorporates regular rest periods. So if you spot something a client’s doing wrong, you can bring it up with them in the next recovery interval. This helps them maintain proper form and address issues quickly.

Track Progress

Tracking progress during interval training allows you to identify areas where your client could focus to improve their fitness level.

You can go old-school and have your client record their intervals and times in a notebook. Alternatively you could use an online tracking system or app. Either approach makes it easier to identify trends and keep track of their performance over time, so you can adjust the training accordingly.

Find Your New Interval Training Clients

Whether your clients are working out for weight loss, training for a competition, or just looking for the health benefits that come with regular exercise, interval training can help them work towards their goals.

Partnering with a company like Wellhub can help you reach a new, corporate audience. With Wellhub, companies give employees access to a huge network of gyms, classes, and training programs as part of their employee benefitspackage. Our research found that 70% of Wellhub membersare signing up for a fitness membership for the very first time, so interval training can help them build up their fitness levels and reach their goals.

We’re building a community of partners to offer these programs. Learn more about becoming a Wellhub partner!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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