T Nation

Interval Training Recovery Periods


I am starting do to some interval training because, well, I have no work capacity at all. Got fat…
When doing intervals that require an all out effort, say like sprint 8…I am easing into it. I am using a recumbent bike. I am torn between using a static time to recover, or wait when doing the recovery speed part, waiting until my heart rate gets back to a certain level. 125 or so…
Might it be that I am over thinking it and should just do the 30 seconds (when I can…now doing 20) and just do the program as designed?
I am doing my normal weight training, whole body, as well.


Radical idea but that may just work.


Unless you are doing a special program like Tabata, you can’t go wrong using your heart rate. Work until you reach your target beats per minute, then recover until you reach the lower limit. Twenty minutes and you’ve done a great cardio workout. Of course, you’ll need a heart rate monitor that beeps as you reach the desired limits. It’s well worth it.


This is kind of a cool question. Like sciences or something. I don’t really have anything useful to add.

What is the “goal” of the intervals?

-To get back to low heart rate, as fast as possible between work sets? Like a fighter, trying to get maximum recuperation in a 1 minute break between rounds.
-To do more “work” like longer rounds, with the same recovery time?
-To do the same work rounds, and rest times, but to get more revolutions or reps in the work rounds?

100% Opinion Based:
Whatever you do, it seems like a cool idea to use the heart rate monitor to establish the rest times for your “beginning” point. If you’re really out of practice, it may take awhile(longer than whatever the paper routine says) to get back to the rest-period heart rate. This would make the intervals into a long duration, high intensity workout.

I tried to follow a beginner, get into shape routine a few months ago and had to cut it in half to get started.


If you are performing max short duration sprints (<12sec) heart rate monitoring is not an ideal measure of work performance. As you are mainly stressing your high-energy phosphate system initial lactate production (and thus increases in HR) should be minimal (in theory, obviously there will be a varying level of production in untrained individuals). The optimal work:rest interval for this type of activity is 1:1 or 1:2 (certainly not more than 1:3 in trained individuals). If you aren’t supplementing with creatine monohydrate, eat lots of lean red meat or white fish, and push yourself to perform your work intervals with minimal rest.

If you’re trying to burn some fat, I wouldn’t recommend solely performing true sprint intervals like these. Work at a slightly lower intensity that you can maintain for up to 2 mins, increase your rest intervals (active rest to clear that lactate), and diversify your training schedule to target all three energy systems. This will both increase all aspects of performance and health measures.

Good luck mate.