Interval training is something that has helped me a lot recently–especially with jamming. It is perfect for roller derby because it enables you to perform at your maximum capacity for short periods of time and then recover quickly. Interval training is a type of training that involves short periods of high intensity exercise followed by periods of low intensity exercise for recovery that are repeated during one exercise session. It can be done using most types of cardiovascular exercise but running, cycling and rowing are most common.
How interval training works
Interval training uses both the aerobic and anaerobic system as fuel for the body to exercise. During the periods of high intensity, the anaerobic system uses glycogen stored in the muscles as fuel. The anaerobic system fuels your muscles without oxygen and produces lactic acid. In the periods of low intensity, the body breaks down the lactic acid that has built up.
It is thought that by performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during training, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise. This means athletes can exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before fatigue or pain slows them down.
In roller derby, a bout is made up of two 30-minute periods. Each period is made up of a series of jams, which can last up to two minutes with a 30-second break in between. Ideally, we need to train so that the body is able to cope with the worst case scenario under these circumstances. The worst case scenario is that each jam will last the full two minutes and that skaters will be required to go on in consecutive jams. This means that skaters need to be able to exert themselves at maximum capacity for a full two minutes and recover in 30 seconds and keep this going for a period of 30 minutes before having a substantial break. In reality, this would rarely happen as jams often get called off before the full two minutes and skater line-ups are switched so that each skater gets enough time to rest. It is possible to train for this using interval training.
The benefits of interval training
Interval training helps to improve performance and increase speed and endurance by increasing the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles, which is also known as cardiovascular efficiency. It also produces an increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. It also helps athletes to increase the intensity of their training without over-training and therefore helps avoid injuries caused by repetitive overuse. Many sources also claim that more calories are burned during periods of high intensity exercise as opposed to slow, endurance exercise. It is a great way of cross training for many different sports, roller derby being only one of them.
Interval training routines
Every person should work out their own individual interval training routine based on their level of fitness and what they want to achieve from their training. It is best for beginners to start with shorter periods of intensity and longer periods of rest and gradually build up the level and duration of intensity, duration and frequency of training, and reduce the periods of rest to speed up recover time.
Safety tips for interval training
- Always warm up for at least 5 minutes before any interval training
- You should be in good health and have a good level of basic aerobic fitness before performing any type of high intensity training. Interval training is very demanding on the heart, lugs and muscles
- Set yourself realistic goals based on your level of fitness
- Start slowly with longer periods of rest between intervals of high intensity
- Build up the intensity and duration slowly over an extended period of time
- Always cool down and stretch after training
Watch this video–it’s hilarious!