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Intervals and HIIT Workouts for Weight Loss


aInterval training is growing in popularity and is considered to be one of the most effective training methods. Particularly in competitive sports, interval training is used to enhance physical performance. But it also offers many benefits for recreational runners and beginners. The main thing is to choose the right intervals. We will explain the different types of interval training and also show you what the best intervals for you are. We want to help you understand why you should definitely include interval training in your routine and how it can help you reach your weight loss goals.

What are interval runs?

Interval training is a type of training in which short periods of high-intensity work alternate with less-intense recovery periods.

By adjusting the individual intervals, you can easily control the difficulty of the session. There are two ways to do this: by the duration or intensity of the work and recovery periods, and by the total number of intervals. When you change one of these parameters, you also change the stress on your body.

man doing running drills outdoors in winter

Weight loss through interval training

The high intensity of the work periods increases the training stimulus experienced by your muscles. In this way, you achieve a much greater training effect in the same amount of time as a moderate distance run.

One of the biggest advantages is that you burn tons of calories in a relatively short time.  Your muscles require a lot of energy after the intense workout for the recovery and regeneration process. 

Due to the “afterburn effect,” your metabolism remains elevated after your workout and you continue to burn additional calories.

HIIT vs. Sprint Interval Training

HIIT (high intensity interval training) and SIT (sprint interval training) are two different types of interval training that have a lot in common – and workouts may even include the exact same exercises or durations. So what’s the difference? The intensity. While HIIT workouts are done at a high intensity (90-95% of peak HR), SIT workouts push that intensity even higher. Each bout of exercise is done at an all-out effort (maximal or supramaximal) and active recovery can be shorter. 

What effect does this have on improving your endurance and boosting weight loss? One 2018 study published in Frontiers of Physiology showed that both HIIT and SIT have a significant effect on improving cardiorespiratory fitness, while SIT workouts result in greater weight loss in a shorter period of time without any changes to dietary intake. This makes SIT workouts a more effective and efficient interval training program if weight loss is your goal.

woman doing interval running training

Interval Running for Beginners

Interval training is usually considered to be a high-intensity and extremely strenuous training method. That is why it is often mistakenly assumed that interval runs are only for advanced runners. After you’ve become comfortable running intervals as a beginning or intermediate runner, sprint interval training or HIIT might be the right option for you.

But if you’re just testing the interval training waters, start with aerobic intervals before getting into SIT or HIIT. Aerobic intervals offer beginning runners an excellent opportunity to benefit from the many positive effects of an interval training session. The example below will get you started.

The right way to do intervals:

1) Warm-up:

Because the work period of the intervals puts a lot of strain on your muscles you have to warm up properly. A moderate 10-15 minute run is enough to warm up your body and prevent injuries. You should choose a pace where you can carry on a conversation without difficulty.

woman stretching outdoors

2) Intervals:

  • The work period lasts 15 seconds.
  • You should run at a submaximal sprint (90% of your maximal sprint) or, in other words, not quite full speed.
  • This is followed by a recovery period consisting of 45 seconds of slow walking.
  • The whole session lasts 15 minutes, meaning you run 15 intervals in total. 

3) Cool-down:

After the last interval, you should walk slowly for ten minutes.

It is important that you don’t overdo it when running intervals. Make sure to rest for one or two days after the session before doing your next workout.

At the start, running intervals once a week is enough. Once you get used to it you can start doing 20-second work periods and 40-second recovery periods.

Our tip:

If you don’t want to be constantly checking your watch while running intervals, then try out the Interval Training feature on the adidas Running app. Besides expert-designed Training Plans, you can also put together your own customized interval training program. The Voice Coach guides you through your workout and tells you when to start each work and recovery period.

The Next Step

So, where do you go from here? Define your goal. Are you just starting to think about adding intervals to your training? Try the interval feature in the adidas Running app or the guide outlined above.  If you’ve already tried and enjoyed the kick of interval training but would like to up your calorie burn, try sprint interval training or HIIT for weight loss. Whichever option you choose, you’re sure to see an improvement in your running endurance and overall performance. 

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