How Should We do Interval Training?

Interval Training

Well, the short answer is; it depends. If you are using interval training (and there are arguments to think of almost all training as interval) then what is your intended stimulus? Are you trying to get stronger by doing heavy sets of back squats, how long is your rest interval? Want to create muscular endurance by hitting interval training on the Echo Bike or Concept2 Rower, what is your work: rest ratio?

All across the country in the functional fitness space or sport of fitness this is what that might look like:

-Build to a Heavy 5×5 Back Squat E2MOM (every 2 Minutes on the Minute)

-6 Rounds Echo Bike for Cals :20 Work :40 Rest


Simple enough training but what is the intended stimulus. Let’s think through the back squat first. If your intended stimulus is to build muscular strength then the rest period is crucial to ensuring that you are able to build to heaviest set of five back squats possible for that day. Doing 1 set every 2 minutes might work for some athletes but for others it might not, resulting in a less than optimal training session. Rather than building muscular strength or endurance we miss lifts and are left frustrated that we didn’t perform to the best of our ability.

What about the Echo Bike, we are resting twice as much as we are working. Test this out and see if you are able to do more, the same or less calories each round. If we are trying to build muscular endurance then we should be able to do the same or better each round. If in practice we are doing less calories each round then that means we aren’t getting the intended stimulus and as such didn’t utilize the training session in the best manner.

Why might this 20:40 work for some but not others. Simply put, you are not all the same. Every single athlete is unique, with varying degrees of fitness. My ability to recover may be much lower than yours due to varying factors such as age gender etc. Take it a step further, my own ability to recover isn’t the same even from day to day. My sleep possible was terrible or I didn’t fuel properly for the training session. Factors like hydration, stress, menstrual cycle and many others all impact your athletic performance from day to day.

Well, what now?

If this isn’t the best way to do interval, then what is? We’ll discuss some methods for getting the intended stimulus right every single time. Stay tuned.