Training Tips: Interval Training for Endurance

Two diverse forms of exercise can have similar changes to selected muscle adaptations. However, it has been shown that intense interval training is a time-efficient strategy to induce quick muscle adaptation in comparison to the “traditional” endurance training.

Interval Training can be defined as a workout composed of quick bursts of intense exercise with low intensity exercise. It can also be said that interval training is painful, but it has been shown to be an efficient way to improve speed, musculature adaptation: growth and power, increase oxygen capacity and much more. But what does all this mean to your endurance training or more simply to your overall health?

Consider the health benefits:

Improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you’ll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity.

Burn more calories. The harder you work out, the more calories you will utilize. After a workout your body still is burning more calories than if you just did an aerobic exercise.

Variety to your workout. Increasing your intensity with intervals training will add a variety to your work out.

Keep you motivated. It helps to see results with your training to keep you exercising.

Consider the endurance training improvement:

There have been studies and samples of cycling routines that you can include in your cycling to improve your endurance if you have limited time but want to ride long distances. Long distances can be defined by 50 miles or more in one single bout. When your endurance improves, you will see a more efficient way of your body to improve skeletal muscle blood flow and vascular circulation, it increases the capacity of lactate transport and the release of H+ from the active muscles. Over a period of time, 4 or more weeks of consistent training will a good indicator to see results in any exercise routine you start and do consistently.

An interval training routine should be designed according to your current fitness status and experience as a cyclist. Always consult a physician to ensure that you are in good health when starting a new exercise regimen.

Below is a sample of an Interval training that could help you improve your endurance if you do it for 4 to 6 weeks as recommended in the chart below.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Recovery Interval Training Endurance

and Recovery

Interval Training Endurance and Recovery Long ride between 4 hours to 8 hours or 40- 100 miles 30 minutes or aerobic exercise or 20 miles of cycling
Take the day off. Your body will recover faster when it rests. W1-1 10-20 miles or 1 hour ride at conversational pace W1-2 10-20 miles or 1 hour ride at conversational pace    


W1-1: 30 seconds of “all out” pedaling. 60 seconds at conversational pace. Try it 3 times then rest for 3 minutes and do the set again 4 times. 30secs. fast, 60 secs. slow, 30secs. fast, 60 secs. slow, 30secs. fast, 60 secs. slow then rest at slow pace for 3 minutes. Repeat this routine 4 times. Always warm up and cool down with conversational pace for 10 minutes. When you warm up and cool down you can prevent injuries by slowing ramping up the muscles to do extraneous work, when cooling down, it helps your body properly bring down heart rate, lactate mobilization and respiration rate.

W1-2: 20 seconds of “all out” pedaling. 40 seconds at conversational pace. Try it 4 times then rest for 2 minutes and do the set again 4 times. 20secs. fast, 40 secs. slow, 20secs. fast, 40 secs. slow, 20secs. fast, 40 secs. slow then rest at slow pace for 2 minutes. Repeat this routine 5 times

For some recreational athletes, they have doubled their endurance time to fatigue during cycling in a shorter amount of time than athletes training with at the same capacity without interval training or quick bursts of exercise.

Each training session consists of specific workouts so that you can see adaptations and create a routine. Once a routine is created, workouts will become easier because you create a habit. As soon as the workouts get boring, it’s time to change up the routine. The body tends to adapt to training routines, creating a homeostasis in the growth or improvement of the systems, hence the opportunity to shake things up with a different workout outside of the routine.

It is important not to exceed intense workouts, too many consecutive hard workouts doesn’t allow for body systems to recover. It can cause injuries, over reaching, over training and unnecessary set back to the enjoyment of cycling.

The overall adaptation to interval training is clearly dependent on the duration of interval, recovery between repetitions, total volume and frequency of the training bouts. These variables have great effects on the metabolic, structural and performance adaptations. The changes take a sometime but it is very rewarding when you find out that your heart rate is slower, that you have lost weight without even changing your eating habits, that you can sustain your power output when in a pace-line with friends.

If you have questions about your training contact Susan Scarlet-Macaw at , Exercise Physiologist


Leave a comment