The Beauty of the Fitness Interval

What’s the most valuable piece of equipment in the gym? The barbell? The dumbbells? The kettlebells? Would you be surprised if we said none of the above?

What if we told you “the clock?” Would you eye roll or would you say…go on?

The reason we love to perform training based around various styles of intervals as often as we can is because the interval is the ultimate variable to manipulate load, pace, and volume – and you can use it so many different ways. Too often we think of an interval as just for HIIT conditioning or peak output and in reality, we can use it to improve conditioning, build strength, or build muscle.

Let us explain.

Strength Intervals
Longer duration with less volume. You see intervals being used in strength formats where we want to highlight the need for recovery. This might look like:

For 20 Minues:
8 Back Squats
12 DB Floor Press
5 Box Jumps

Typical completion of each set would be around 3 minutes if performed correctly with a 30 second or minute rest in between sets. Those who might short themselves on the weight and complete it in say, two minutes, might find themselves needing less recovery and it always yields instruction from the coach to challenge more on the weight. Without challenging yourself enough to need to take rest, there is no governor on your pace and one could easily turn a strength building format into a conditioning format.

Muscle Intervals
Moderate duration with high volume to stress certain muscle groups, followed by moderate rest periods to allow the muscle to recover. The main tool we are using in these formats is time under tension and this might look like:

90″ on / 50″ off
A: Max BB Hip Thrust
B: Max SA KB Clean
C: Max Hollow Kicks
D: Max 3 Way Shoulder Raise

You will notice that every movement here is loaded, meaning it has added resistance in the form of either a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell. This means you aren’t going to get dozens and dozens of reps by nature, but just enough to be effective at overloading the muscle to drive hypertrophy in around the 20 rep range.

Conditioning Intervals
We can train conditioning via intervals in a variety of ways, either shorter duration in something like an EMOM where you are performing something every minute on the minute, or these can be extended densities where we are performing as much volume as possible in seven or eight minutes.

Examples might include:

EMOM – 21′ EMOM
A: Max Ring Push-Ups
B: 20 Explosive Step Ups
C: 16 SA KB Swing

Density – For 6 Minutes:
A: 5 Hang Power Cleans
10 OTB Plyo Skaters
12 V-Ups
Complete 3 Rounds

50″ on / 30″ recovery
A: Racked Push-Ups
B: Sprinter Crunch
C: Split Lunge Side Raises
D: SA Unilateral Bridge Press
E: Box Jumps
4 Rounds

The beauty of intervals lies in our ability to ensure the right work to rest output in order to get the intended benefit from the day. Without structure and guidance from the clock, the temptation to move either too fast or too slow is well…too tempting.