Emil Zatopek…Father Of Interval Training?

emil zatopek Emil Zatopek...Father Of Interval Training?

Emil Zatopek Used Early Interval Training To Achieve Olympic Glory

They’re everywhere. Sometimes it takes a little searching to find them, but if you keep your eyes open you’ll run into them.

I’m talking about those people who just can’t seem to get enough of that ‘physical fitness’ scene. You may see them slogging down the road endlessly with a dazed look on their faces, but what you aren’t seeing is their ‘inner runner’ that’s basking in a sea of endorphins. For them, the longer they’re shuffling along, the happier they become.

But that’s not how it is for the rest of us. What we need is an exercise program that optimizes the amount of time we have available to spend getting physically fit. We want to get the most bang for our buck.

That’s where a form of exercising called Interval Training comes in.

Interval Training’s Been Around For Decades

I’ve been in the world of long distance racing since the 1970′s and interval training pre-dated me by a few decades. Runners were using ‘intervals’ to maximize the time they spent on their feet as early as the 1940′s. In fact, a Czechoslovakian by the name of Emil Zatopek used intervals to become a legend at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

Recently there’s been a real buzz about this type of training…because the principles can be applied to a multitude of different exercise types and the benefits of interval training are available to everyone from Olympic-level athletes to those just looking to shed a few pounds using diet and exercise.

No matter what your level of fitness, you can benefit from interval training.

What Interval Training Isn’t

Interval training isn’t the form of exercising called ‘aerobic’ training that was popularized by Dr. Kenneth Cooper when he wrote his book, The New Aerobics. The basic tenet of the book was that steady exercise at a sustainable level of intensity achieved a valuable level of fitness.

So while aerobic (aerobic means ‘with oxygen’) exercise can be done for relatively long periods of time, the intense parts of interval training can’t be sustained for the entirety of the workout.

Interval training is a ‘hard-easy-hard-easy’ type of workout, while aerobic exercise is done at a more constant ‘moderate’ level.

Interval Training And Weight Loss

If you want to jump start the exercise part of your weight loss program, consider incorporating a few interval workouts per week into your schedule.

After my competitive running days were over, I continued to run for fitness. All of my runs were done at an aerobic intensity, but over the period of years my weight was creeping upward. This was in spite of running up to ten miles at a time.

When my son and daughter began competing, their training program included some strenuous hill repeats (very hard up the hill, easy jog down the hill…repeat eight times). I joined them in their torment and noticed something very positive regarding my body weight.

The fat started to melt away.

By cranking up my metabolic furnace to near maximum intensity for short periods of time, I noticed that the after-effects of the workout persisted for hours after I got home. Specifically what I noticed was that my heart-rate remained elevated (maybe 10 to 15 beats per minute) well into the evening. And during those hours, I was burning up fat in a way that hours of steady running hadn’t achieved.

Give Me An Aerobic Workout Example (Or Two)

You can do an interval style of training outside or inside. Because I don’t particularly like exercising indoors (but have to do it when the snow’s flying) I’m inclined to do intervals so that I can minimize the time I’m spending on my cycling trainer.

So here’s an example of a short, intense indoor workout that could be done on anything from a treadmill to an indoor recumbent bike.

  • 10 minutes easy warm-up.
  • 10 minutes of alternating ten seconds very hard effort with ten seconds very easy effort.
  • 10 minutes easy warm-down.

If you want to do a slimmed down version of the kind of workout that competitive athletes are doing, here is a ‘pyramid’ style interval workout, followed by a ‘descending ladder style interval workout.

Pyramid interval workout-

  • 10 minutes easy warm-up.
  • 1 minute very hard, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 2 minutes not quite as hard, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 3 minutes at a little less intensity than the 2 minute effort, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 4 minutes at a little less intensity than the 3 minute effort, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 5 minutes at a little less intensity than the 4 minute effort, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 4 minutes at your ‘four minute’ intensity, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 3 minutes at your ‘three minute’ intensity, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 2 minutes at your ‘two minute’ intensity, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 1 minute very hard.
  • 10 minutes easy warm-down.

Descending Ladder Workout-

  • 10 minutes easy warm-up.
  • 6 minutes moderately hard, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 5 minutes a bit harder than the 6 minute interval, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 4 minutes a bit harder than the 5 minute interval, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 3 minutes a bit harder than the 4 minute interval, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 2 minutes a bit harder than the 3 minute interval, followed by two minutes very easy.
  • 1 minute very hard.
  • 10 minutes easy warm-up.

Disclaimer: It’s important to check with your doctor before you initiate any form of strenuous exercise…but that warning applies even more so to interval training, due to the intensity levels.

So What Are You Waiting For?

So what are you waiting for? Besides your doctor’s clearance, of course. icon smile Emil Zatopek...Father Of Interval Training?

Incorporating a few interval style workouts into your fitness program may kick-start your weight-loss efforts unlike any other form of exercise. Not only does it add some interesting variety, but it also works the magic of an increased metabolism for hours after the workout.

And what does your body burn to keep that furnace going? Fat, of course.

About the author: After running his last race at the 1984 Olympic Trials Marathon, Dr. Ron Fritzke has spent his time in his private chiropractic office, on the sports medicine team at the College of the Siskiyous, or on the saddle of one of his four bikes.

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