Interval training alternates bouts of high-intensity work with rest in repeated timed intervals. The general idea is to
perform a high volume of high-intensity work in a limited time. Ultimately, it is nothing more than anaerobic training
with controlled rest periods.
The benefits of interval training are to both anaerobic and aerobic systems. The obvious question is how much benefit
and to which system?
We can orchestrate intervals so that they predominantly stress either aerobic or anaerobic systems.
should be added to the training of “anaerobic athletes”
(a process that can be termed combination training)
to enhance recovery because recovery primarily
relies on aerobic mechanisms. However, aerobic training may reduce anaerobic performance capabilities,
particularly high-strength, high-power performance
. Aerobic training has been shown to reduce anaerobic energy production capabilities in rats.
Additionally, combined anaerobic and aerobic training
can reduce the gain in muscle girth, maximum
strength, and especially speed and power related performance, although the exact mechanism is not known. It does not appear that the
opposite holds true; some studies and reviews suggest
that anaerobic training (strength training) can improve
low-intensity exercise endurance. Although oxidative metabolism is important in recovery
from heavy anaerobic exercise (e.g., weight training,
sprint training care must be used in prescribing aerobic training for anaerobic sports. In this context, it should be noted that specific anaerobic training
can stimulate increases in aerobic power and enhance
markers of recovery. Thus, extensive
aerobic training to enhance recovery from anaerobic
events is not necessary and may be counterproductive
in most strength and power sports.
Dr. Izumi Tabata experimented with intervals and
published in the journal Medicine in Sports and Exercise
the results of an experiment in which he produced
excellent improvements in anaerobic and aerobic
conditioning in a group of accomplished athletes with
a four minute (3:50) protocol of 20 seconds of all out
work followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times.
Significantly, Dr. Tabata’s 4-minute high intensity
group got better V02 max improvement than the control
group, which followed a 60-minute moderate intensity
Clarence Bass, and Peak Performance both give great
accounts of Dr. Tabata’s research and understand the
Dr. Tabata’s research subjects exercised on stationary
bikes; we decided to test other applications.
Our favorite and most effective application has been
the “Tabata” squat – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
repeated 8 times squatting effort scored by the lowest
number of reps performed in any of the eight intervals.
This single drill tests for and develops elite athletic
capacities. Rankings for this drill accurately predict
ranking performance on a wide variety of fundamental
athletic skills and performance.