Intensive vs. Extensive Intervals Explained

Intensive vs. Extensive Intervals Explained

Introduction to Interval Training

Intensive vs. Extensive Intervals Explained! Interval training has gained immense popularity in the world of fitness and has proven to be an effective way to improve cardiovascular health, burn calories, and enhance overall endurance. It involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. This type of training is known for its ability to push the boundaries of what our bodies can achieve. However, within the realm of interval training, there are two distinct methods – intensive intervals and extensive intervals. In this article, we will delve into the science behind these two training methods and explore the benefits and examples of each.

The Science Behind Interval Training

Interval training works by challenging the body to work at its maximum capacity during the high-intensity intervals, followed by a period of recovery during the low-intensity intervals. This creates a cycle of stress and recovery that stimulates the body to adapt and become more efficient. The main physiological adaptation that occurs during interval training is an increase in the body’s anaerobic capacity, which refers to the ability to perform high-intensity exercise without relying heavily on oxygen.

What are Intensive Intervals?

Intensive intervals, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), are characterized by short bursts of all-out effort followed by short rest periods. The idea behind intensive intervals is to push your body to its limits during the high-intensity intervals, making it work at or near its maximum capacity. These intervals typically last anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 minutes, with the rest periods being equal or slightly shorter in duration than the high-intensity intervals.

Benefits of Intensive Intervals

Intensive intervals offer a multitude of benefits. Firstly, they are extremely time-efficient. Due to the high intensity of the exercise, you can achieve the same or even greater benefits in a shorter amount of time compared to traditional steady-state cardio workouts. Secondly, intensive intervals have been shown to increase the body’s metabolic rate, resulting in a greater calorie burn even after the workout is over. Additionally, this type of training improves cardiovascular fitness, increases muscular strength and power, and enhances overall endurance.

Examples of Intensive Interval Workouts

There are numerous ways to incorporate intensive intervals into your workout routine. One popular example is the Tabata protocol, which consists of 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated for a total of 4 minutes. Another example is the sprint interval training, where you alternate between all-out sprints and recovery jogs. You can also perform bodyweight exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, or squat jumps in a high-intensity interval format.

Intensive vs. Extensive Intervals Explained

What are Extensive Intervals?

On the other hand, extensive intervals, also known as low-intensity interval training (LIIT), involve longer periods of moderate-intensity exercise followed by shorter rest periods. Unlike intensive intervals, extensive intervals focus on sustaining a steady effort throughout the workout rather than reaching maximum capacity. These intervals typically last from 2 to 5 minutes, with the rest periods being longer than the high-intensity intervals.

Benefits of Extensive Intervals

Extensive intervals have their own set of benefits. Firstly, they provide a lower impact alternative to high-intensity workouts, making them suitable for individuals with joint issues or those who are just starting their fitness journey. This type of training improves aerobic capacity, enhances fat burning, and helps build an endurance base. Moreover, extensive intervals aid in recovery by promoting blood flow and reducing muscle soreness.

Examples of Extensive Interval Workouts

There are various ways to incorporate extensive intervals into your training routine. One example is the steady-state cardio, where you maintain a moderate intensity for a prolonged period of time, such as a 30-minute jog. Another example is the pyramid interval training, which involves gradually increasing and decreasing the intensity over a set period of time. You can also try cycling, swimming, or rowing at a steady pace for a specific duration, followed by a rest period.

Intensive vs. Extensive Intervals Explained

Choosing the Right Interval Training Method for Your Fitness Goals

The choice between intensive intervals and extensive intervals ultimately depends on your fitness goals, preferences, and current fitness level. If you are looking to maximize calorie burn in a shorter amount of time, improve anaerobic capacity, and enhance overall athletic performance, intensive intervals may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are aiming to build endurance, prefer a lower impact workout, or are new to interval training, extensive intervals would be a better fit.

Both intensive and extensive intervals can be customized to suit your individual needs. You can adjust the duration, intensity, and rest periods to create a workout that aligns with your goals and abilities. Additionally, it is advisable to consult with a fitness professional before starting any new training program to ensure safety and effectiveness.


Interval training is a versatile and effective method for improving cardiovascular fitness, burning calories, and boosting endurance. Understanding the distinction between intensive intervals and extensive intervals allows you to tailor your workouts to better suit your goals and preferences. Whether you choose to push your limits with high-intensity intervals or build a solid endurance base with low-intensity intervals, incorporating interval training into your fitness routine can lead to significant improvements in overall fitness and performance. So, incorporate interval training into your routine and experience the benefits for yourself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *