Interval Weight Training

Recently IWT re-appreared again in the training cycle. It is a very effective way to increase your aerobic capacity and burn fat too. But what is it?

IWT is an intense type of interval work utilising a combination of athletic lifts and free aerobic exercise. The cross training of athletic type lifting for full range strength and free exercise for anaerobic power, has a major impact on developing explosive power endurance, and can also be great for torching some unwanted body fat. This type of work utilises a greater percentage of the body’s muscle mass, both slow and fast twitch fibres.

An old concept

It is a well known concept with real life results. In 1987, Pat O’Shea published a comprehensive version of the IWT protocol in the NCSA journal. He described Interval Weight Trading as:

…a highly sophisticated and effective means of multi-variable cross-training to optimize performance in a wide variety of sports. Through the proper selection and manipulation of IWT intensity (load, intensity, volume, and frequency of training) an extremely high level of total athletic fitness can be achieved.

The high intensity work places added energy demands on the respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems, meaning that more fat and glycogen is burned to support the increased energy demands before, during, and after exercise. The post exercise oxygen consumption of this type of exercise will leave your metabolism revved up and burning calories long after the session has finished.



How to attack IWT WOD:

Less means more

More is not more when it comes to IWTs. A single session each week done following the full format is enough to see great improvements in real-world conditioning, and see you ready to kick some serious ass when needed. Trying to do multiple IWTs in a week will see you burnt out very quickly.

Aim for Progression

If you’re really out of shape, you’ll notice a tremendous drop-off in the number of reps you can get with the strength exercise, as well as how far you can go on each tier-one effort. Over time, as you become fitter and better adapted, you’ll see that all your efforts stay close to one another. You should aim to see less than a 10 percent drop in performance from one interval to the next. Example if you have rowed in first interval 600m in 2min you are expected to row next not less than 590m but mind you this is for a well conditioned athlete.

When choosing your weights, don’t pick a weight that barely gets you 8 reps for the first set (or other prescribed reps number). That’s too heavy, and you'll likely get only 5–7 reps in the second and third sets. Instead, pick a weight that you are confident you can get 10 reps with, and try to get at least 8 reps each set. If you are able of hitting 12 reps each round, add some weight for next week.

Embrace the Sweat

Don’t be scared of conditioning. You won’t lose muscle. In fact, as you get better conditioned and your heart gets stronger, you’ll find all sorts of other benefits, such as faster recovery between sets of your regular workouts and increased recovery between workouts. A strong, healthy heart is the most important muscle in the body. But to develop it, you don’t need to run an hour daily.