How can interval training improve product training

The supreme discipline of interval training: ideal for speed and basic endurance

Basic endurance vs interval training! In contrast to interval training, basic endurance plays an important role in endurance sports. This is why trainers and sports associations often only recommend low-intensity basic endurance training in phases in their framework guidelines. But does that make sense?

Interval training and basic endurance

Interval training is viewed more critically, especially in the preparation period, as negative effects are feared. Dennis Sandig explains some connections in interval training and explains why interval training can be used all year round.

The basic framework of performance


The training in the various sports is always based on the stress that is required in a competition. In this way, the individual components can be specifically trained and improved. This is so important because the training of individual components can be influenced by others.

In order to strive for targeted improvements in reactive strength skills, the training must take place in a rested state and therefore separated from the endurance training. If you look at the load structure of classic endurance sports, it becomes clear that even in triathlon and long-distance running, even loads dominate the competition.

In cycling, the loads are much more widely spread. On the basis of the assumption that on average the load remains constant and that intensive loads hardly play a role, training recommendations that mainly aim at developing basic endurance became established.

Intense training negative for basic endurance?

In this context, intervals are rarely recommended. Sometimes there are even assumptions in the training literature that intensive training could have a negative effect on basic endurance. In the field of training theory, however, the interaction of such effects is viewed in a much more differentiated manner. In particular, a negative influence on basic endurance cannot be confirmed in research.

Rather, depending on the recovery phases, there are different effects that are more likely to be positive developments. In addition, the effects can vary depending on the interval configuration.

Note that intensive forms of training always have to be compensated for by adequate regeneration.

Also read:Increase in efficiency through interval training

Intense metabolism

The aerobic energy supply works more economically than the anaerobic. In this way, relaxed stress can be sustained longer than the intensive work above the anaerobic threshold. Due to the lower energy throughput, this can only be guaranteed for low intensities. If the strain increases, anaerobic metabolic pathways are increasingly mobilized so that more energy is made available.

This is the only way to continue muscular movement. Increasingly anaerobic loads are therefore characterized by a higher energy throughput per time in a muscle segment. However, this also increases the level of fatigue, as more and more lactate and other metabolic intermediates - such as B. Ammonia - are accumulated.

The pH of the blood rises. Since short-term movements with a suddenly increasing energy requirement also occur at rest, lactate values ​​of 0.8 - 1.5 mmol / l blood are normal.

Benefits of intensive interval training

The basic endurance is mainly trained in the endurance method. Endurance stimuli are set below the individual anaerobic threshold at a steady pace. If you only train your basic endurance, the anaerobic capacities can significantly lose their performance.

This is due to the fact that the enzyme systems involved in anaerobic energy supply are only massively addressed when anaerobic energy generation is required. Contrary to previous assumptions, one also seems to be able to fundamentally train important effects for endurance performance through intensive training. (1)

The effect of anaerobic intervals on aerobic performance

In this way, you can also improve your aerobic performance with targeted anaerobic intervals. This has been shown by various studies in which different types of intervals have been examined with regard to training adjustments. (2) Interestingly, intervals are supposed to improve exercise economy in addition to the effect on metabolic processes.

This could be due to the fact that the motor programs also have significantly higher innervation rates when they are more intense, so that learning effects can also be expected in coordination.

Also exciting: fat burning & fat metabolism - the basics for your endurance training

What types of interval training are there?

In addition to intensive intervals in various load configurations, there are also extensive intervals. While the latter tend to take place in the area of ​​the anaerobic threshold, intensive intervals are located above it. The right organization of breaks is also an important aspect when planning training.

In principle, many other forms of stress are conceivable. Ultimately, planning intervals should always be closely aligned with your skills. If your personal condition is taken into account, there are no limits to creativity!

Who will benefit from interval training?

Even if interval training is superior to continuous training in various comparative studies, such studies must be interpreted with caution. A study on interval training was recently presented in an “Internet Triathlon Magazine”. It mentioned tabata intervals.

The name of the study author was simply transferred to all trainees. However, you should refrain from the propagated motto “Exercise less and benefit from the effects of the intervals”.

Because although intensive interval training can influence aerobic and anaerobic capacities, it does not automatically mean that you can replace basic training with intervals alone!

The intelligent use of training intervals

Depending on the sport, you will not be spared basic kilometers. On the other hand, the intelligent use of such intervals cannot be demanded often enough. You can benefit from interval training, especially if you are already a high training age. This also applies if you already have very good basic endurance. Especially then, intensive anaerobic intervals are a promising opportunity to achieve new training adjustments. (3)

Intensive training requires longer recovery times due to greater fatigue. You should therefore always keep an eye on your pulse during breaks when training intervals. If your heart rate does not decrease significantly during the break, you should end the interval series!

What types of interval forms are there?

Table 1: The different interval forms

40 seconds20 secondsmaximumintensive
30 seconds30 secondsmaximumintensive
60 seconds20-30 secondsmaximumintensive
2 minutes2 minutes95-104% IAS *extensive
4 minutes2 minutes95-104% IAS *extensive

* IAS - individual anaerobic threshold

More on the topic: Interval training in triathlon preparation

When should I start interval training?

One reads again and again that intervals, especially in endurance sports, should only be trained after the preparation period. However, you lose such important customization options. In order not to risk your form, however, you must make sure that the intervals are repeatedly interrupted by phases of pure aerobic endurance training.


Your exercise should always be balanced, and long periods of focus on individual metabolic areas are not recommended. This applies to all sports.

Dennis Sandig M.A., Research assistant at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg and doctoral candidate at the Saarland University; Co-founder of iQ athletik GmbH

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1. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1996, Vol. 28 (10), pp. 1327-1330.

2. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1997, Vol. 29 (3), pp. 390-395.

3. Sports Medicine, 2002, Vol. 32 (1), pp. 53-73.

Technical language:

Intervals - Sections in training that are filled with special content

Basic endurance training - Training at low intensity, with which in particular the fat metabolism is to be optimized

Anaerobic threshold - Point in the lactate curve at which lactate production and lactate breakdown are still in balance