Cardiorespiratory Fitness - Interval training
Interval training also works the cardiorespiratory system. It is an advanced form of exercise training which helps a person significantly improve his fitness level in a relatively short time and increase his running speed.
In interval training, a soldier exercises by running at a pace that is slightly faster than his race pace for short periods of time. This may be faster than the pace he wants to maintain during the next APFT 2-mile run. He does this repeatedly with periods of recovery placed between periods of fast running. In this way, the energy systems used are allowed to recover, and the exerciser can do more fast-paced running in a given workout than if he ran continuously without resting. This type of intermittent training can also be used with activities such as cycling, swimming, bicycling, rowing, and road marching.
The following example illustrates how the proper work-interval times and recovery times can be calculated for interval training so that it can be used to improve a soldier’s 2-mile-run performance.
The work-interval time (the speed at which a soldier should run each 440-yard lap) depends on his actual race pace for one mile. If a soldier’s actual 1-mile-race time is not known, it can be estimated from his last APFT by taking one half of his 2-mile-run time. Using a 2-mile-run time of 1600 minutes as an example, the pace for an interval training workout is calculated as follows:
Step 1. Determine (or estimate) the actual 1-mile-race pace. The soldier's 2-mile-run time is 16:00 minutes, and his estimated pace for 1 mile is one half of this or 8:00 minutes.
Step 2. Using the time from Step 1, determine the time it took to run 440 yards by dividing the 1-mile-race pace by four. (8:00 minutes/4 = 2:00 minutes per 440 yards.)
Step 3. Subtract one to four seconds from the 440-yard time in Step 2 to find the time each 440-yard lap should be run during an interval training session. (2:00 minutes - 1 to 4 seconds = 1:59 to 1:56.)
Thus, each 440-yard lap should be run in 1 minute, 56 seconds to 1 minute, 59 seconds during interval training based on the soldier's 16:00, 2-mile run time. Recovery periods, twice the length of the work-interval periods. These recovery periods, therefore, will be 3 minutes, 52 seconds long (1:56 + 1:56 = 3:52).
Using the work-interval time for each 440-yard lap from Step 3, the soldier can run six to eight repetitions of 440 yards at a pace of 1 minute, 56 seconds (1:56) for each 440-yard run. This can be done on a 440-yard track (about 400 meters) as follows:
1. Run six to eight 440-yard repetitions with each interval run at a 1:56 pace.
2. Follow each 440-yard run done in 1 minute, 56 seconds by an easy jog of 440 yards for recovery. Each 440-yard jog should take twice as much time as the work interval (that is, 3:52). For each second of work, there are two seconds of recovery. Thus, the work-to-rest ratio is 1:2.
To help determine the correct time intervals for a wide range of fitness levels, refer to Table 2-1. It shows common 1 -mile times and the corresponding 440-yard times.
Monitoring the heart-rate response during interval training is not as important as making sure that the work intervals are run at the proper speed. Because of the intense nature of interval training, during the work interval the heart rate will generally climb to 85 or 90 percent of HRR. During the recovery interval, the heart rate usually falls to around 120 to 140 beats per minute. Because the heart rate is not the major concern during interval training, monitoring THR and using it as a training guide is not necessary.
As the soldier becomes more conditioned, his recovery is quicker. As a result, he should either shorten the recovery interval (jogging time) or run the work interval a few seconds faster.
After a soldier has reached a good CR fitness level using the THR method, he should be ready for interval training. As with any other new training method, interval training should be introduced into his training program gradually and progressively. At first, he should do it once a week. If he responds well, he may do it twice a week at the most, with at least one recovery day in between. He may also do recovery workouts of easy jogging on off days. It is recommended that interval training be done two times a week only during the last several weeks before an APFT. Also, he should rest the few days before the test by doing no, or very easy, running.
As with any workout, soldiers should start interval workouts with a warm-up and end them with a cool-down.