ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Get Muscular and Ripped with Interval Training

Updated on September 19, 2012

Hardcore Interval Training Or Not?

You’ve seen the videos, the infomercials, testimonials from ripped, muscular people who ditched their pear shapes and spare tires for the body of a Greek statue.

Maybe you have watched the P90x promos featuring Tony Horton coaching a room full of sweat-drenched trainees or Shaun T and the Insanity workout. This is the guy performing non-stop right next to his class; usually working so hard he collapses at the end of a circuit.

So is this what it takes to get lean and muscular? Do you have to work so hard you pass out?

As it turns out, yes, and no.

The Science

Interval training is nothing new, but programs like the Insanity workout and P90x have encapsulated the concept and created comprehensive routines around it.

The reason it works is the extreme demands it places on the body in a short period of time, burning a slew of calories. This high intensity training was always considered a good way to increase anaerobic capacity (short term energy for high output activities such as sprints, etc.,) but many studies have shown it also increases your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max,) which is important because this number is directly related to a person’s ability to “do work aerobically.”

More significantly, these studies have demonstrated an increase in mitochondria in the cells of skeletal muscle tissue. Translation? If this science is right, you can increase your muscular endurance through these methods as well as your cardiovascular fitness. Important news if you are an endurance athlete.

Interval Research

But back to the question of effort. Is it necessary to go at 110 percent to get the same results? According to Science Daily, not at all.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrated how both untrained and trained test subjects increased their aerobic capacity using moderate intensity intervals. In this case, they worked for a whole hour at ~90 percent of their ability. Over the hour, 10 4-minute cycles were performed, with two minute rests in-between.

Regardless of how fit they were in the beginning, the subjects used more fat for energy while increasing cardiovascular fitness, even with moderate intensity training.

Speed of Loss

Keep in mind the speed with which you lose weight has to do with a combination of your exercise program and nutrition. Although the subjects in the study mentioned above used more fat stores during the experiment, a number of factors, especially nutrition, can prevent weight loss.


The body needs time to recover from interval training.This is especially if it is done at a very high intensity. The general recommendations are to include it once or twice a week in your program.

If you are untrained, consider developing a base of aerobic and muscular endurance for several weeks before starting intervals. This allows you to prepare your body, but also to develop the ability to work hard enough in good form to get results and prevent injury.

Remember the Minimum Effective Dose. Doing more than what is needed will not necessarily create more of a positive effect, and may be detrimental to your training. The body can actually start breaking itself down if it is worked too hard for too long. Schedule adequate rest and recovery periods.

Interval Training for Strength and Power!

Round 2!

Dr. Tabata

Did you know that Dr. Izumi Tabata achieved the same health and performance benefits mentioned in this article using a much shorter time period? Dr. Tabata and his team pushed a group of test subjects through 2 protocols. The first, and best known, was 6-7 bouts of exercise at ~170 percent of the subjects maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max.) They were required to work hard for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds and repeat. Approximately 4 minutes total.

The second involved 4-5 rounds of exercise at 200 percent of VO2 max for 30 seconds each, with 2 minutes rest between bouts.

The best results were realized with the shorter work to rest ratios, which is why today the Tabata protocol is known as '8 rounds of 20/10.'

Goal Specific

Be sure intervals fit into your fitness goals. If you are an athlete in the off-season, including high intensity interval training once or twice a week probably makes sense. In fact, you are likely doing strength and cardio training like this. Marathon runners can also use this method to their benefit, but in moderation.

For someone who just wants to stay fit and get a ‘beach body,’ relying on long interval sessions like the Insanity workout will eventually break you down, not build you up.

Find the balance between recovery and craziness. You will burn more total calories with high intensity workouts, but be sure to give yourself adequate time in between these sessions.

On the off days, do low intensity exercise and stretch your muscles. You will be better prepared to take on that next Shaun T or P90x video if you do.

Dr. Izumi Tabata
Dr. Izumi Tabata

Please take a moment to participate!

Have you experienced better results from interval training?

See results
Wake up Shaun!
Wake up Shaun! | Source

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)