Everyone’s talking about a form of cardio that’s new on the scene. It’s not steady-state cardiovascular training, and it’s not LIT (low-intensity training). It’s also not MICT (moderate-intensity continuous training) or HIIT (high-intensity interval training)… it’s something called SIT (sprint interval training). Sound more fun (and maybe less intense) than HIIT? Think again!
What is an Interval Workout?
You may have heard of interval workouts, but maybe you’re just not entirely sure what type of interval is what, and why they’re a good option when it comes to fat loss and body-weight control.
Interval workouts allow you to have short bursts of work interspersed with longer periods of slower or more moderate-paced “rest” periods. Intervals are performed successively over a 20- to 30-minute period of time and allow you to recover between your high-intensity work sessions.
People probably like interval workouts most because of their sheer effectiveness. Well, that and their efficiency. A typical interval workout will garner you the same, or better, results than a longer steady-state cardiovascular workout. So, not only is it possible to burn more fat, you can do it in a much shorter period of time without completely wearing yourself out. It’s mentally easier to do short bursts of max effort than to face the daunting task of completing one long, very difficult session.
And, the good news about intervals doesn’t stop there. Interval training also causes what’s known as EPOC or post-exercise oxygen consumption. While this may not initially sound like a big deal, it turns out to be quite beneficial for those looking to strip away body fat as it allows you to burn additional calories for hours after your workout is complete. Using more oxygen requires burning more calories, and that means a faster metabolism.
So, What Are the Different Types of Interval Training?
Probably the easiest way to explain sprint interval training (SIT) is to compare it to the other popular forms of cardiovascular training. Let’s start with a brief overview of each type.
Low-intensity training (LIT)—the most often seen form of cardio is probably low-intensity training, like a slow walk. Many folks will enjoy a leisurely walk outside or on the treadmill. They can easily talk to each other without getting winded, and they are most likely not breaking a sweat.
Steady-state cardio—this type of exercise is just your normal steady-pace movement, like a walk. It simply means you keep moving for a definite amount of time without greatly changing your pace. An example of this would be a 30-minute brisk walk around the neighborhood.
Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT)—this is a little more labor intensive than your run-of-the-mill steady-state cardio: think a 60-minute hike or a gentle jog at a moderate pace for 40 minutes. You’ll definitely feel winded and may not be able to carry on much of a conversation.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)—you’re probably somewhat familiar with this term. HIIT involves short bursts of high-intensity activity (for about 60 seconds) interwoven with periods of less-intense activity (your “rest” period). Rest usually lasts between one and two minutes.
An example of HIIT would be to run hard for 60 seconds and follow that with a slow walk for one to two minutes. HIIT does not have you completely maxing out your ability during each high-intensity phase. Instead, you should be around 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Additionally, you most likely will not have the chance to fully recover from your higher intensity burst in-between cycles since the rest period is relatively short, comparatively speaking.
The idea is to repeat the entire sequence for a total of approximately 20 minutes for a full workout.
Sprint interval training (SIT)—basically, SIT is a ramped-up form of HIIT. Yes, your sprint times will be shorter than HIIT cardio, and your rest periods will be much longer, allowing for full recovery in-between sessions. You will get to your maximum perceived rate of exertion during your sprinting portions of the workout. An example of this would be a 30-second full-on sprint followed by a 4-minute slow walk. You would repeat the cycle for a specified amount of time, usually 20 to 30 minutes in total.
What are the Benefits of Sprint Interval Training?
The old adage, “you get out of it what you put into it,” still holds true in the case of sprint interval training. Because your efforts are so intense during SIT intervals, you can also expect to see ramped up health benefits as well.
- Better fat burning than regular cardio or even HIIT cardio
- Overall, there is less time sprinting than with traditional HIIT workouts
- Since your sprint times are shorter, there is less chance of injury
Try This Sprint Interval Training Workout
Always ensure you are thoroughly warmed up. Walk or do a light jog for about ten minutes.
- Sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds.
- Walk extremely slowly for 4 minutes.
- Repeat the sequence 6 times in total.
- Do a 10-minute cooldown of moderate walking for 5 to 10 minutes
Note: You may want to try the SIT workout with variable rest periods. This means you might rest less at the beginning of your training session (like a two-minute rest between intervals instead of a straight four-minute break between every sprint session). As your body gets more taxed over the course of your workout, you’ll want to lengthen your rest periods.
You’ll probably only want to do a sprint interval training two or maybe three times a week as they are very intense and stressful on your body. Always keep at least one full day in between SIT workouts for the best recovery.