Athletic Training · Hockey · Power Training · Weight loss

Get creative with interval training

Think of interval training and what comes to mind? For most people who even know the
term will probably think “brief but hard”. Many will say those magic words “Tabata”, the interval system named after Dr Izumi Tabata — the Japanese researchercanstockphoto14550750 who developed the Tabata protocol.

That protocol? — 20s of intense work followed by 10s of rest, repeated 8 times. So that’s 4 minutes of total work time. The Tabata group put in a total of 120 minutes of work while the control group performed 1800 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. The Tabata group showed greater improvement in aerobic capacity while also increasing anaerobic measures by 28%.

While the Tabata protocol has taken off, there is so much more to interval training. With a bit of thought you can devise your own protocols to suit your needs.

Power conditioning

You can perform the typical, mainstream interval regimes and get great results. If you’re an athlete or looking to develop athleticism, interval training can become an art — the art of creating desired muscle adaptations in a very specific and targeted way.

A good starting place is understanding the continuum of power and fatigue. At one end, we have powerful intervals: short in duration followed by relatively long rest periods.

The other end is represented by long intervals with small rest periods.

Assuming the same intensity of effort, you’ll elicit different adaptations in the muscle’s ability to produce energy.

Why is this important? Well, within this simple idea is the genesis of a multitude of routines.

As a hockey player, I’m interested in developing on-ice power and endurance. An analysis of hockey players and how they exert themselves during a game, there are a few observations we can use to develop a productive interval protocol:

  • Hockey players skate in brief bursts or “sprints”
  • A typical hockey shift is 45-60s
  • While resting on the bench they regenerate muscle phosphocreatine, meaning they’re able to produce repeated sprints
  • Over the course of a period and a game, fatigue reduces their ability to produce power and to recover.

Thinking of these points, the following regime would be valuable to a hockey player:

8-10s all out efforts with variable rest between efforts. We could just keep rest periods equal in length so why vary them? Purely because it allows us to perform on a spectrum of fatigue levels.

These “ladder” style protocols are awesome for training the muscles to produce powerful contractions in varying degrees of fatigue, which mirrors the sport in question, in this case hockey.

Here’s a ladder and reverse ladder interval training regime based on the information we found above.

Hill sprint training

Effort: 10s hill sprints

2 reps at back to back
2 reps at 15s
2 reps at 30s
2 reps at 45s
2 reps at 60s

Reverse ladder
2 reps at 60s
2 reps at 45s
2 reps at 30s
2 reps at 15s
2 reps back to back

I encourage you to try these types of interval regimes out and see the results. The benefit of the ladder is that it paces your fatigue allowing you to produce more power throughout.

The reverse ladder becomes increasingly more difficult, as you’re asking your muscles to work under increasing fatigue.

Both ladder schemes will work in tandem with each other to help the athlete develop both power and endurance. They could be alternated but tend to work better when applied in a 2-3 block fashion. Try the ladder 3 times per week for 3 weeks to increase power in repeat sprints. Follow this up with 3 weeks of the reverse ladder 3 times per week for increasing anaerobic capacity.

These will work for athletes of all stripes but particularly those with repeat sprint efforts: Hockey, Football, Soccer, Basketball…

The point is, look at your sport and what it demands of you and devise an interval routine to increase your athleticism.

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